Southampton School District and Tuckahoe School District are nearing initial votes on whether they should merge into one district, and Southampton is planning two public meetings next week to assuage taxpayers’ concerns.
The gatherings are being billed as a “listening tour,” so that district officials can hear out residents and answer their questions.
The first meeting is Monday, October 21, at Southampton Cultural Center on Pond Lane. A second meeting is scheduled Wednesday, October 23, at Rogers Memorial Library on Coopers Farm Road. Both meetings have a 7 p.m. start time.
Voting will be held on Tuesday, October 29.
The residents of both districts must vote in favor of the merger for the process to move forward. The first round of voting is essentially a straw vote. A binding merger vote would come in 2014.
Tuckahoe, which does not have a high school of its own, currently sends most of its ninth- through 12th-grade students to Southampton High School, and pays tuition for each student. In recent years, the Tuckahoe budget has grown to pay for more and more students to attend high school, which officials say is unsustainable. If the districts merge, the three Southampton school buildings and the Tuckahoe Schools will be reorganized and grades will be redistributed. Taxes in the current Southampton School District would go up slightly, while taxed in Tuckahoe would drop significantly.