The New Suffolk Common School, which is holding a March 5 community referendum on sending all of its students out of district to be educated, announced this week that it has reached an agreement to send the students to the Southold School District, where students in the district’s upper grades already attend classes.

The district is hosting a community forum on the vote to create what’s known as a non-instructional school district at the school (on the corner of Fourth Street and New Suffolk Road) on Tuesday, Feb. 27 at 7 p.m.

The public vote, open to voters registered within New Suffolk School District boundaries, will also be held at the school on Tuesday, March 5, from 3 to 9 p.m.

In a Feb. 22 letter to the community, School Board members Lisa Zissel, Brooke Dailey and Deborah Carroll said that “given the prior relationship with Southold, and in consideration of Southold’s academic and athletic offerings, we believe it to be in the best interests of district students to continue our agreement with Southold to educate New Suffolk students.”

The board members said that, if the referendum passes, a resolution formalizing the agreement with Southold will be on the agenda at its March 12 meeting.

Parents of the seven students currently attending grades pre-K through sixth grade in the three-room schoolhouse began bringing concerns about the lack of opportunities to socialize or learn from peers at the same grade level, as well as the lack of extracurricular activities to the school board last year, asking for an alternative for their children to attend larger schools. The district has also held discussions with the Mattituck-Cutchogue School District over the past several months about potentially sending students there.

Becoming a “non-instructional school district” would enable the district to function administratively on behalf of the seven elementary and 15 high school students who live in the district, preserving the low taxes New Suffolk has long been able to maintain due to the small school. The district would still have a superintendent and board of education and would maintain the school building and ball field, but would not have teaching staff, board members have told the community over the past several months.

The board also seemed receptive at its February regular meeting to applying for Southold Town landmark status for its 1907 schoolhouse — the building is already on the National Register of Historic Places. School officials have had preliminary discussions with Just Kids, a private provider of Pre-K services that runs the Pre-K program in the Mattituck-Cutchogue School District, about leasing the school building out as a Pre-K.

Board members said they are working with Southold to provide parents with dates and times when they can tour the school, and are asking parents to confirm their students’ expected enrollment for next year by April 1 to provide Southold with definitive enrollment numbers. That information can be emailed to Superintendent Joe Vasile-Cozzo at jvas@newsuffolkschool.com.

“We encourage the community to attend the special meeting on Feb. 27, 7 p.m., at the New Suffolk School. This meeting will solely focus on the upcoming vote on March 5 regarding the Non-Instructional School District,” said the board members in their letter to the community.

The Feb. 27 meeting will also be streamed via Google Meet at  meet.google.com/fri-eyog-ghb or by phone at +1 443-671-4772 PIN: 738685272 for those who can’t attend in person.


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Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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