The newly-formed group, Concerned Citizens of Hampton Bays have released data that shows 2.8 percent of the Hampton Bays School District's student body is made up of kids that make their home at a hotel, motel or homeless shelter.
According to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the group, of the district's 2,031 students, 43 reside at a motel or hotel and 13 at the controversial Suffolk County homeless shelter at the Hidden Cove Motel.
The numbers speak for themselves, said Michael Dunn, president of the citizens' group. "Basically, these families are stealing $22,000 per child from the taxpayers of Hampton Bays."
"It is just not fair," said Dunn, whose group has made it a mission to rid the area of homeless shelters and overcrowded homes.
Dunn said the numbers don't even include all of the areas motels and hotels or the area homes that are have two, three and four families living in them.
But, Dunn said, those numbers are ones he intends get by having his members canvass Hampton Bays to count students at bus stops that come from houses that they believe are overcrowded. The numbers, he said, will help in his effort to keep the community informed.
On Monday, Dunn says he has a meeting scheduled at town hall to talk about actions the town can take to reduce the density in the hamlet, as well as to stop the use of motels and hotels for transient residents and as homeless shelters.
Superintendent of Hampton Bays Schools Lars Clemensen said he knows all too well the toll on the district. Class size is just one issue, he said, pointing out that the average class size across the Town of Southampton, based on last year's NYS School Report Card, was 18 students, compared to Hampton Bays where that number stands at 23.
"We, as a community, continue to face issues of density, and the use of motels and cottages as apartments and a homeless shelter are two very quick ways to ensure our community remains dense, which is a challenge for us," said Clemensen, noting that the district is in constant communication with the state, the town and the county regarding the issue.
When it comes to homeless students, Clemensen said, the district is able to, in some cases, obtain reimbursement from the state through a system called,“STAC."
Clemensen explained that the Federal McKinney-Vento Act allows students that are considered homeless to either attend the school district they attended prior to going homeless or the school district in which they receive temporary housing.
"If a student chooses to come to Hampton Bays, for example, because the Suffolk County Department of Social Services placed them at the Hidden Cove Homeless Shelter, my staff will initiate a STAC process for that student," said Clemensen. "When we receive our state aid from the Albany, it will include an amount roughly equal to our non-resident tuition rate, approximately $14,000, which is pro-rated for the duration of time that the student attends Hampton Bays schools."
That said, if a homeless student comes from another state, no reimbursement can be obtained.
"NYS has no authority to recoup funds from another state’s agencies," said Clemensen, who said he could not disclose any specifics as to how many students the district obtains money for due to Federal privacy laws.
Patch wants to know: What do you think the town can do to reduce density in Hampton Bays? Comment below.
- Residents Decry Hampton Bays Homeless Shelter
- Patch Poll: Do you Agree With Placing a Homeless Shelter at the Hidden Cove Motel?
- Town Won't Commence Legal Action Against Hidden Cove Motel
- Motels Versus Apartments in Hampton Bays
- New Community Group Aims to Clean Up Hampton Bays
- Hampton Bays School Budget Approved
- Student Enrollment up in Hampton Bays