School districts across New York State were sent reeling after the New York State Legislature adopted Governor Andrew Cuomo’s two percent cap on the property tax levy. The new law restricts school districts and municipalities alike in how much they can raise spending each year.
However, there were some concessions made within that bill to attempt to ease the burden, including one that allows school districts to share transportation services. This week, the Bridgehampton School began considering just that.
During a school board meeting last Wednesday, business administrator Robert Hauser informed the school board that they have the ability to go out to bid for the 2012-2013 school year for transportation services.
Hauser said BOCES has suggested the district hire a consultant to look at what kind of contract would best benefit the school district. He noted that the East Hampton, Sag Harbor and Southampton school districts own their own buses and Bridgehampton is now allowed to contract directly with those schools for transportation.
“Nothing is preventing us from at least opening a dialogue with the Southampton School District,” said Hauser, noting Bridgehampton could contract with them to transport district children who attend The Ross School, for example, instead of paying the $50,000 the district does now to provide that bus route. The same could be done with East Hampton.
Bridgehampton School spends about $53,000 annually for a bus to take about nine students to Our Lady of the Hamptons, said Hauser, noting East Hampton and Southampton already provide buses to the Southampton-based, private Catholic school.
“When you think about it, for those school districts, they are already covering the fixed costs so anything we can offer them would be extra,” said Hauser.
Board president Nicki Hemby wondered if the district could assign a bus stop for those pickups.
Superintendent Dr. Lois Favre suggested the board consider hosting a workshop on transportation to strategize for the future.
Shakespeare at Bridgehampton
If Josh Perl gets his way, next summer East End residents will be treated to two weeks of William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” on the expansive lawn behind the Bridgehampton School. In Perl’s vision, the lawn would be transformed into festival grounds in celebration of the pageantry that historically coincided with the mounting of the great poet and playwright’s productions.
Last Wednesday, Perl made his pitch to the Bridgehampton School Board.
The founder and director of the Hamptons Independent Theater Festival asked the board if his not-for-profit theatre company could set up shop on the school’s grounds for three weeks in August. During that time, the company would host a theatre camp for children and stage about a dozen performances of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” said Perl.
The company would have a suggested donation of $20 for the performances, although Perl stressed it is his mission to make theatre accessible for all, and those who could not pay the donation would be welcomed with open arms.
The camp, however, would have to charge for students to attend.
In addition to using the rear of the school grounds, Perl also asked for the use of the school’s restrooms and two classrooms to be used as the actor’s dressing rooms.
Perl noted there could be an opportunity for Bridgehampton students to participate in the production, or at the very least in the festivities planned prior to the show.
Dr. Favre suggested Perl fill out a building use form, and that the board would then discuss the concept in earnest, including whether or not the district could waive grounds fees for the theatre company.
In other news, Dr. Favre reported that the district’s new ASPIRE (After School Program of Inquiry, Research and Enrichment) program is an enormous success in its first 10-week session.
The daily after-school program for elementary school students offers an interdisciplinary approach to one subject during each 10-week session.
While Dr. Favre originally expected between 15 to 20 students, it quickly grew to host 40 students, she said.
Teachers like David Elliot and Judiann Carmack-Fayyaz have actually donated their time to the program at no cost to the district, said Dr. Favre.
Elliot said the program was “evolving” and credited Bridgehampton principal Jack Pryor for administrating the program, and Dr. Favre for conceiving the idea of bringing ASPIRE to Bridgehampton.
After school, students are studying their subject – bugs in this first session – in the library and in the greenhouse, with physical activity mixed into the curriculum, said Elliot.
“We are feeding bodies and minds,” he said.