Mattituck too costly for New Suffolk secondary students

New Suffolk junior and senior high school students won’t be trekking to Mattituck anytime soon. That was what the New Suffolk Board of Education decided Tuesday night after its members learned it would cost substantially more to educate their secondary school students in Mattituck than the $18,000 per student they currently pay Southold.

“They are unwilling to offer anything similar to Southold,” Superintendent Robert Feger told board members Tuesday night. His initial conversation with Mattituck-Cutchogue Superintendent James McKenna held some promise, he said, but once Mr. McKenna consulted with his own board, the possibility evaporated, at least for the time being, Mr. Feger said.

During his talks, Mr. Feger said, the Mattituck-Cutchogue Board indicated that — if it accepted New Suffolk secondary students — it would have been willing to waive extra costs for those who wanted to enter any of the educational programs offered by Eastern Suffolk BOCES.

The problem, Mr. Feger said, was that Mattituck would have charged extra for special education students who enter existing programs, which Southold does not do.

“From my perspective … it kind of takes them out of the mix,” Mr. Feger said of Mattituck’s extra fees. A related cost factor, he added, was a state effort to increase student testing and provide broader special education services to more students. If their students were sent to Mattituck-Cutchogue, that would have meant even more expenses for New Suffolk taxpayers.

Still, the board agreed to keep the line of communication open with Mattituck should circumstances change.

Mr. Feger pointed out that Mattituck might find a deal more attractive when New Suffolk begins sending out more secondary students; its elementary enrollment has increased from less than 10 students to more than 20.

Board members will also consider a recommendation from Mr. Feger to expand preschool classes from three days a week to five for the 2011-12 school term. But classes would be cut by a half-hour and run from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. instead of 11 a.m.
Most arrangements to accommodate the program’s expansion are in place, Mr. Feger said. But he said he needs to work out a few details before asking for a board vote in March.

Mr. Feger asked board members to consider adding another SmartBoard when they budget for equipment for next year. Currently, the schoo;’s single computerized board is being moved room-to-room. “You’re losing instruction time while you’re moving furniture,” Mr. Feger said.

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