By Marianna Levine
Euphoric and lengthy applause greeted the announcement that Bridgehampton Superintendent Dr. Youngblood had approved Bridgehampton principal Jack Pryor for tenure. In an otherwise tensely restrained meeting, the vocal approval came two years after Dr. Youngblood requested that Mr. Pryor be denied tenure at the school. At that time her announcement caused something of an uproar among students as well as parents who wanted to see Mr. Pryor remain at the school’s helm. As a result the school board refused to vote on her recommendation, and resolved the situation by giving Mr. Pryor a year’s probation on the job.
Board Vice-President Elizabeth Kotz said, “I think he’s a very good principal. It may seem like a simple job but considering he oversees K-12 it’s really a complex position to be in.” She continued, “It’s a good thing he got tenure. It gives the district a sense of stability.” After the applause died down, Board President James Walker was happy to officially announce tenure was granted.
The Cost of Students
The other point that caused a lively conversation among audience and board members alike was a presentation by Janice Delano on the maximum incremental out-of-pocket cost for additional students at Bridgehampton. This report, which Ms. Delano reminded all was a work in progress, considered what it would cost the school to take on additional students without adding staff. As Rick Delano pointed out, “we have quite a few empty desks, and we’re some numbers short of being full.” Therefore the cost of taking on additional students would come out to just under $1,400 although, as of last year, the district has a tuition policy in place that charges between $11,000 and $14,000 to out-of-district students. Mr. Delano noted, “That means any tuition above this cost is income to the district.”
Ms. Delano noted that this draft did not include special need students, which confounded former board member Joe Conti, who specifically wanted to know what the cost for special need students were to the district. Conti reminded the current board members once again that a resolution was passed to discuss the out of district students, but that a report on them excluding any special needs students just didn’t make sense to him. An exasperated Kotz explained that the district had already studied this and that no special teachers or staff were required for any out of district students. “We are not taking on any new non-district students with special needs. It is not costing the district extra money. If they are in district we’re legally obligated to provide services to them.” However, board member Joe Berhalter continued the discussion stating, “we only have a finite number of people the district can service because the district grandfathered in non-tuition paying out of district students therefore perhaps new students with special needs will need added staff.” Ms. Delano said it would be very hard to conceive of the school needing more people since they had ample staff now. Principal Pryor noted that there are only about 13% of students with special needs currently attending the school. One thing both Elizabeth Kotz and Joe Berhalter agreed on was the need to take some time to review the report. Board President Walker therefore asked that further discussion about this matter occur at the next meeting, which is set to take place on Monday, January 12 at 7pm.