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New Suffolk School to remain open; Tuesday’s vote to close it canceled

The public vote on whether to close the New Suffolk School, which was scheduled for Tuesday, has been canceled.

In a special meeting Friday night, the New Suffolk Board of Education voted unanimously to cancel the vote that would have asked residents to decide whether students in grades pre-K through 6 should be sent to Southold School District for the 2018-19 school year. Students in grades 7 through 12 are already sent to Southold.

The cancellation came one day after an agreement between teacher Martha Kennelly and the New Suffolk school board was finalized, board president Tony Dill said.

“Under the law, apparently what happens is after you sign the agreement the individual involved, which is Martha in this case, has seven calendar days to revoke her agreement and cancel the whole thing,” Mr. Dill said. “Those seven days ran out Thursday. Once they run out it becomes a binding document for both parties. We didn’t want to call the election off until everything was final and couldn’t be rescinded.”

Mr. Dill said at last week’s regular board meeting that the terms of the agreement are to remain confidential and neither he nor Ms. Kennelly can comment on it.

The agreement, however, is expected to keep the historic red schoolhouse open this fall. Mr. Dill said enrollment numbers are expected to remain similar to this year. Currently 15 students are enrolled at the elementary level.

“We’re hopeful for a successful year again next year,” he said.

The agreement came less than two months after the school board set the public vote on sending the district’s elementary students elsewhere. That decision was made after the State Education Department ordered the district to reinstate Ms. Kennelly to classroom duties with $300,000 in back pay. Her job had been cut in 2015. She currently earns $119,485 annually working offsite developing curriculum.

The agreement was reached with the assistance of BOCES mediator Terri McSweeney, Mr. Dill said last month. The mediation resulted from a petition from the public asking the board to explore that as a possible solution.

Additionally, the board scheduled a special meeting for Tuesday, April 24, at 7 p.m. to discuss the proposed 2018-19 budget.

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