Mattituck ready to talk secondary contract with Oysterponds

TIM KELLY PHOTO | Oysterponds graduates may soon have the choice to attend classes at Mattituck High School.

School officials and parents from both the Oysterponds and Greenport districts have expressed their concerns over the past few months about how changes to their current secondary school arrangement could affect their communities.

But what about Mattituck-Cutchogue school officials?

The Oysterponds district, which operates a K-6 school for Orient and East Marion students, currently sends its secondary students to neighboring Greenport.

In March, Oysterponds designated both Greenport and Mattituck as secondary school districts. The board also agreed to put both contracts up for public referendum once they’d been finalized. That likely won’t happen in time for the May 15 ballot, when next year’s operating budget and two school board seats will be decided. Board members said the contract vote will probably take place during the summer.

If both contracts fail, or if no agreement is reached by September, Oysterponds students will continue to attend Greenport and tuition will be determined by the Seneca Falls rate, a state formula that establishes the tuition rate for non-resident students.

Mattituck school superintendent James McKenna said this isn’t the first time Oysterponds has reached out to his district looking to strike a secondary school deal.

Oysterponds approached Mattituck about three years ago, Mr. McKenna said, but an offer was never finalized.

This time around, Mr. McKenna said he and two school board members have had an informal conversation with Oysterponds school officials. Mattituck school board president Jerry Diffley said his board is willing to talk with their Oysterponds counterparts.

“There’s no question we could use the additional revenue,” Mr. Diffley said. “We could accommodate the Oysterponds students without any problem.”

Based on the Seneca Falls rate, tuition for each nonresident student during the 2011-12 school year at Mattituck is about $16,800, Mr. McKenna said.

Greenport receives about $14,000 per student in yearly tuition fees from Oysterponds, based on the Seneca Falls rate, but the rate can be adjusted. This year, 84 students attend Oysterponds School and 73 go to Greenport. About 14 Oysterponds students are expected to transition into 7th grade next year.

The special education rate that Mattituck charges for out-of-district high school students is $46,141, which Mr. Diffley said is almost $20,000 lower than Greenport’s rate.

This school year there are about six non-resident special education students attending Mattituck schools, Mr. McKenna said.

There are also three non-resident students attending Mattituck High School.

“I’m proud of what we have and I’m willing to share it,” Mr. McKenna said. “The ball is very much in [Oysterponds’] court.”
Greenport officials say they’re proud of what they’ve offered for years.

“We’re looking forward to negotiating a multi-year contract with Oysterponds, hopefully for all of their students,” said Tina Volinski, Greenport school board president. “The Oysterponds students have long been a very important part of our Greenport community.”

East Marion and Orient residents may also be asked to vote on transportation costs if Oysterponds attempts to secure a deal with Mattituck because state law requires a referendum when a secondary school is located over 15 miles away.

Oysterponds Superintendent Joan Frisicano has said she believes a Mattituck contract will cost the district over $100,000 in additional tuition and transportation costs. If approved, those funds would come out of the school’s fund balance, she said.

Oysterponds school board president Deborah Dumont said Wednesday the secondary school contract negotiations are still ongoing.

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