By Marianna Levine
The Bridgehampton School Board’s April workshop meeting turned out to be much longer than the actual school board meeting a week earlier, due in part to the teachers’ ratification of their contract and interim business administrator George Chesterton’s presentation of the school’s 2009-2010 budget. School board candidates Joe Conti, Nathan Ludlow, and Lillian Tyree-Johnson were in the audience.
In a letter read by school board vice president Elizabeth Kotz (filling in for president Jim Walker who was absent), teachers association representative Ken Giosi formally announced the teachers’ ratification of their contract. The deal gives the teachers a five-year contract with an annual three-percent salary increase. Two years of the contract will be retroactive, as the teachers have been working without a contract for that amount of time.
“The level of civility both sides maintained during negotiations ultimately benefits our students,” wrote Giosi in his letter. He also extended his appreciation and gratitude on behalf of all the teachers to the board for closing the contract negotiations.
Later in the meeting, Chesterton, handed out documentation detailing information about next year’s school budget. Bridgehampton’s School Projected Budget for 2009-2010 will be $10,012,857, an increase of 1.41 percent from this year’s $9,873,698 budget — or $139,159 more. State aid has decreased by 1.06 percent as has revenue from admissions, interest, and services to other districts in the end decreasing overall non-tax levy revenues by 33.11 percent.
Chesterton also included a detailed documentation of projected school tax levies over a range of assessed property values. For example, in Bridgehampton, in the coming year owners of property valued at $750,000 will pay $1,135 in school taxes as opposed to the current 1,044. Owners of property valued at $3 million will pay $4,540 rather than $4,177. There is an across the board 8.68 percent increase in the tax levy with owners of properties under $1 million dollars paying between $24 and $91 more a year in school taxes. Properties valued between $1 million and $5 million dollars will see an increase of between $121 and $605 a year.
Chesterton handed out a document from the NYS Office of Real Property Services showing there will also be a significant enhanced Star Exemption, for those who are retired and whose income does not exceed the statewide standard. The Town of Southampton, which includes the hamlet of Bridgehampton, was shown to have the second highest enhanced exemption (after Shelter Island) in Suffolk County. The Enhanced Star Exemption allows a certain amount of one’s property assessment to be reduced prior to it being levied for school taxes.
“This shows that the board and administration has taken into account the current economic situation while still providing a good education for the children of this community,” said Chesterton.
School board candidate Conti complimented Chesterton from the audience saying, “Very nicely done!” after his presentation.
In other school board news, principal Jack Pryor reported that a tree would be planted in honor of deceased student Pablo Saldivar on May 1, which is Arbor Day. He also noted that the eighth grade will be making their class trip to Washington D.C. from May 26 to 28.
School superintendent Dr. Dianne Youngblood updated the board on the Middle States accreditation progress. She hoped the application would be completed soon, and mentioned the stated policy of the board of education was key in gaining accreditation, and that it might need updating.
“I would like us to look at the policy because we might find places to revise it,” noted Kotz. “Some of the language needs to be updated.”
Board members agreed they would try to have the policy ready for the following week, in time for the application deadline.
There was also some debate about the use of the school’s parking area in the summer season after Planned Parenthood asked to use the school’s parking for a gala they are holding at a venue nearby this summer. According to school board member Joe Berhalter, the request had been turned down as the result of an executive session the prior week in which the school’s lawyers determined the lot could only be used for educational programs.
This week, East End Hospice’s Camp Goodgrief, a summer camp for children who have lost loved ones, had made a similar request. Board members were inclined to allow the campers to be picked up and dropped off at the school’s parking lot.
Â However, Berhalter reminded them that “I don’t think Camp Goodgrief fits into educational use and I think it’s important we stay consistent with this usage policy.”
The board also denied two other groups use of the property over the summer. One request came from a tennis pro who wanted to use the courts for summer lessons, and the other was from an organization called Health Barn that wanted to run a health focused summer camp at the school.