Oysterponds board to vote on Greenport contract extension

Oysterponds Board of Education members will be asked on Tuesday night to approve a two-year extension of their contract with Greenport. The move would extend the board’s current three-year contract to five years.
That’s not sitting well with some Oysterponds taxpayers who are trying to rally support for residents to attend Tuesday night’s school board meeting at 7 p.m. to protest the extension.
The contract has been in place since last spring and applies the Seneca Falls formula for calculating tuition Oysterponds pays to Greenport to educate its seventh through 12th grade students. Board president Walter Strohmeyer recently said the district will save money with the formula this year because declining enrollment will bring the cost down below the flat $1.7 million flat-rate offer the board had received from Greenport to educate Oysterponds students.
When the district cancelled a referendum last fall that would have allowed the Seneca Falls contract to stand for only one year instead of three, many taxpayers objected.
The board cancelled the referendum after receiving an opinion from Suzanne Spear of the New York State Education Department that because this isn’t an initial contract with Greenport, there’s no need to submit it to a vote.
The district had received conflicting opinions from attorneys on the need for a referendum before the NYSED weighed in and thus had scheduled the referendum, Mr. Strohmeyer said. With Ms. Spear’s phone call, board members agreed to cancel the election.
An e-mail from three newly elected board members — Deborah Dumont, Thom Gray and Dorothy-Dean Thomas — sent to Oysterponds residents Monday night called the move to extend the contract to 2014 “a last gasp effort to control the future of our children.”
They complained that the move was being made with “No public hearings. No consultation with the community. No discussion with parents. No discussions of the educational needs of our children. And we are currently paying the highest rate per student permitted under state law.
Why must this be done now?”
They asked that residents come out and make their voices heard in an effort to stop the board from extending the contract.
[email protected]