Featured Letter: A North Fork School District simply won’t work

To the editor:

Last week’s Angela DeVito Guest Spot deserves nothing less than a resounding fuhgettaboutit! 

I am a retired CPA who served two terms as an Oysterponds school board member, one as president. I was also very much involved when Ted Webb was board president in initiating control over a skyrocketing budget long before the state enacted a 2 percent tax cap. In fact, because of like-minded succeeding board members and an excellent current superintendent, the budget is even less now than it was then. Furthermore, I personally augmented the policy that all board members should have a personal copy of the current School Law Book, in which all of the consequences of consolidation, unintended or not, are fully explained in Section 26, School District Reorganization.

Since it’s the largest and has the most infrastructure, let’s assume the Riverhead district would become the newly centralized district and the others would be defunct. That would result in all sorts of benefits for those in Riverhead, but all sorts of catastrophic damage, financial and otherwise, to those living in the defunct districts from Mattituck-Cutchogue to Oysterponds. School taxes would dramatically increase, and in some cases double. On the contrary, Riverhead taxpayers would receive a considerable reduction in school taxes. All land, all school buildings, all athletic fields and all other physical assets of the defunct school districts would become the property of the North Fork School District. All debts of the former school district (Riverhead) would now be debts of the North Fork District and all its taxpayers. All board members would be elected “at large,” so it’s conceivable all could be Riverhead Town residents. Consequently, they could close schools and sell properties in the defunct school districts. Lastly, all current debt and other obligations (bonds) would still have to be paid solely by the taxpayers living in the defunct districts. For example, the taxpayers of Mattituck/Cutchogue would be liable for their about $30 million in outstanding bonds. The same would apply to the taxpayers of Southold and Greenport for their outstanding Bonds. So, again, fuhgettaboutit!

Walter Strohmeyer, Orient

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Students in Ms. Salmaggi's class work with iPads Tuesday morning at Southold High School.
Students work with iPads in 2012 at Southold High School. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder, file)