By Tessa Raebeck
Sag Harbor voters easily passed the school district’s $36.8 million budget for the 2014-15 school year and reelected two incumbents, Sandi Kruel and Theresa Samot, and first-time candidate Diana Kolhoff to the Board of Education.
The budget passed by a 72-percent margin, 578 to 222. Turnout was lower than usual with 800 ballots cast, compared to last year’s approximately 1,100.
The budget represents an increase of $1.36 million, or 3.83 percent, in spending from last year.
With a tax levy increase of 1.48 percent, the spending plan came in below the states 1.51 percent tax levy cap for the district, which is determined by district-specific calculations. The total amount of the spending increase to be raised by taxes is $484,543.
For Sag Harbor homeowners of a house valued at $1 million, the monthly tax bill is projected to increase by $5.83 in Southampton and $5.80 in East Hampton.
Under new legislation announced by Governor Cuomo, STAR-eligible homeowners in Sag Harbor will qualify for a rebate. Homeowners are eligible if their house is their primary residence and the owners’ combined annual income is $500,000 or less. Since the district will stay under the New York State mandated tax cap on property taxes, it is allowed to grant a rebate to eligible homeowners in October.
School Board Elections
In the race for three seats on the Board of Education, incumbents Theresa Samot, Sandi Kruel and newcomer Diana Kolhoff secured positions.
Sag Harbor residents were allowed to vote for three candidates.
Ms. Samot, the current president of the board, came in first with 587 votes, and Ms. Kruel, who will begin her fourth term on the board, came in second with 526 votes.
A newcomer, Ms. Kolhoff earned 503 votes, earning the final position on the school board. With 346 votes, challenger Thomas Ré fell short of securing a seat.
There were also a handful of write-in votes: John Battle had three votes, Stephen Clark had two and Mary Anne Miller, a longtime school board member who decided not to pursue another term, had one write-in vote.
The three seats were left up for grabs by the expiration of Ms. Kruel’s, Ms. Samot’s and Ms. Miller’s three-year terms.
“I’m just so excited,” Ms. Samot said after the results were announced Tuesday night in the Pierson Middle-High School gymnasium. “It’s really, I think, a new chapter in the Sag Harbor School District, with the new superintendent and the building project and all the good things that are happening, the expansion of the IB program.”
“So, I’m just so excited to be part of it and I want to thank the community for their support,” she added.
“I’m excited,” Ms. Kruel said in between hugs with administrators and fellow board members. “I’m excited going forward. I’m excited with what we’ve done and about moving forward with the new superintendent—and making our schools greater than they already are.”
Having moved to Sag Harbor about five years ago, Ms. Kolhoff is new to the school board, but has two daughters attending the Sag Harbor Elementary School. She and her husband, Randy, own Black Swan Antiques.
Ms. Kolhoff worked as a high school math teacher for 12 years and is currently a mathematics education consultant. She trains grade school teachers in best instructional practices and aids them in the implementation of the Common Core Learning Standards.
“I got into mathematics because I like solving problems and I’m good at it,” Ms. Kolhoff said at a Meet the Candidates forum earlier this month. “So, if elected, that’s what I would like to do. Whatever problem comes up, let’s figure it out and find a good solution.”
The new board members will begin their three-year terms July 1 and stay on until June 30, 2017.