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Once More With Feeling

Posted on 24 April 2008

Emotions in the Bridgehampton community are sure to be at a fever pitch come Monday night’s school board meeting, specifically because the debate to close the district’s high school has been resurrected by board member Joe Berhalter.

This week Berhalter submitted his second petition to force a referendum on the concept. As we said in our last editorial on this undeniably controversial subject, the timing of this petition is frankly poor at best.

We respect that Berhalter has wanted to engage the district in debate about the school’s future, and that he may have a different idea than the majority of the board as to where the students of Bridgehampton will find the best high school education.

In fact, it is our hope when the community reacts to this news – and we know they will – that they do so with less fury than at the last school board meeting dedicated to this topic. While we understand this is an emotional issue, it serves everyone far better if dialogue is created, and dialogue is seldom found between screams.

That being said, we disagree with the method Berhalter has chosen to employ in a quest to fulfill his goals in the district. What we specifically disagree with is that there has been very little discussion at public meetings about this concept, and it appears, very little planning involved.

What we have enjoyed in Berhalter’s short tenure with the board, and that of his counterpart Joe Conti, is that they have strived to create communication about issues, even when they are largely unpopular. Conti is a believer in planning for the future, which is why we were disappointed to see his name attached to a petition that has had at the very least, little public planning behind it.

Planning behind closed doors does not count on an issue that will directly affect a number of parents and students in Bridgehampton, especially when the economic impact to the school district as a whole as yet to be explained on more than a few pages.

We respect there may be some in the Bridgehampton community who honestly want to close the high school. But again, they have been largely voiceless at board meetings, which can only lead us to believe much is being talked about behind closed doors, and behind closed doors is no place for a school’s future to be planned. 

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