Tag Archive | "Bridgehampton School"

Celebration Planned to Honor Mary Anne Jules’s Long Career at Bridgehampton School

Tags: , , , , ,


By Tessa Raebeck

Mary Anne Jules enjoying her retirement. Courtesy Mary Anne Jules.

Mary Anne Jules enjoying her retirement. Courtesy Mary Anne Jules.

To honor her 32 years of service to the Bridgehampton School, its students and athletics programs, the Bridgehampton Teacher Association will host a celebration of Mary Anne Jules’s retirement at Almond Restaurant in Bridgehampton on Monday, November 10.

Just a year out of college, Ms. Jules started at the Bridgehampton School as a physical education teacher in 1983. She earned her master’s degree and administration degree while teaching and became athletic director for the district in 1991, while still teaching physical education. From 2010 to 2012, Ms. Jules served as president of Section XI, the governing body of high school sports in Suffolk County.

The evening will include cocktails, presentations and stories about Ms. Jules’s long career, with dinner to follow.

“It is to celebrate her over 30 years of service to us as a staff, Section XI and the Bridgehampton community as a whole,” said Jeff Hand, a Bridgehampton teacher who has helped organize the evening.

“A true testament to Mary Anne the person is the number of friends, former students, Section XI colleagues and family members who be attending,” Mr. Hand said, adding that as many as 40 people who are not part of the BTA are coming to show Ms. Jules their support and gratitude.

Although she is enjoying the rest since hanging up her whistle last summer, Ms. Jules has stayed connected to the district—and busy—by mentoring its new athletic director Eric Bramoff.

“He was a good choice for the job,” she said on Tuesday, adding she had yet to return to Bridgehampton’s sidelines as a fan in order to “Let Eric do his thing; he’s doing a great job.”

Ms. Jules said she won’t be able to stay away much longer, however. “I’ll definitely be at some basketball games, ’cause they should do very well this year,” she said, adding she had been following the papers intently for reports from the fall season.

Lillian Tyree-Johnson, a member of the school board and lifelong Bridgehampton resident, has known Ms. Jules as the face of Bridgehampton athletics for over 20 years. Her husband, Carl, was Bridgehampton’s junior high coach when they first started dating and later became head coach.

“Mary Anne has been a mentor to my husband and a wonderful friend to both of us for many years,” Ms. Tyree-Johnson said in an email Monday. “Her love for Bridgehampton is unquestioned and I will miss her very much, but wish her all the best in retirement.”

“She was a great example to her students as well,” she added. “Her work in bringing shared sports to Bridgehampton is, I think, her most important contribution. She opened doors for so many student athletes and created and sustained an amazing program.”

In her newfound free time, Ms. Jules has done exactly what she intended to do: watch her nieces and nephews play sports. She has been up to Sienna College to watch her nephew play lacrosse almost every weekend this fall and often travels to Westchester to watch another nephew play high school football. “And that’s only a few out of the 16,” she said of her total count of nieces, nephews and requisite games.

Ms. Jules is also taking yoga classes once a week and doing “the things that I never had time to do before,” she said. “I’m not rushing around, but I do miss the kids.”

Her fellow teachers organized the evening at Almond Restaurant to celebrate Ms. Jules’s long career in Bridgehampton.

“I’m looking forward to seeing all of them,” she said of her former co-workers. “It’s great people I work with and I miss them, so I am looking forward to a few laughs and seeing all them—some of my families—coming out.”

The cost to attend the evening is $50 per person with checks payable to “Bridgehampton BTA.” The party is from 5 to 8 p.m. For more information, contact Steve Meyers at smeyers@bridgehampton.k12.ny.us.

Bridgehampton Teachers Urge School Board to Move Forward with Contract

Tags: , , , , ,


By Tessa Raebeck 

Twenty Bridgehampton School teachers showed up at the district’s Board of Education meeting on Wednesday, October 22, to prompt administrators to move forward with their contract negotiations.

“We are all here tonight because we as a union are not happy with the negotiation process; it seems to have stalled,” Bridgehampton Teacher’s Association (BTA) President Helen Wolfe told the board. “We have come to tell you that we’re not happy with the process.”

The district is in its second year of negotiations with the teachers’ union. Superintendent Dr. Lois Favre said Tuesday she could not comment on the negotiations because they are ongoing.

Ronnie White, president of the school board, said the board is following the standard procedures under the Taylor Law, the 1967 New York State law that established a government agency to mediate contract disputes, and allows public employees to organize and elect union representatives, while prohibiting them from going on strike.

“We are negotiating, we believe that we will eventually come up with something that makes sense,” Mr. White said Tuesday. “At this point in time, it’s a process, and we believe that that process will see the light at the end of the tunnel at some point, but both sides have been working diligently to come up with something that makes sense.”

“There are definitely some things that are up for negotiation and we’re seeing if we can come to a compromise,” he added.

Although Mr. White said he cannot guarantee that compromise will have been reached by the time next year’s budget is adopted, he said he is “confident and hopeful that we will be if not there, then extremely close.”

For the 2012-13 school year, the first year Governor Andrew Cuomo’s 2-percent tax levy limit on school districts and municipalities affected Bridgehampton’s budget, the school’s teachers agreed to a hard freeze on their salaries. The teachers forfeited all raises, including step increases, saving the district about $93,000 and making it possible for the school to meet the state-mandated tax cap.

The board adopted a budget that pierced the tax cap for the 2014-15 school year. It did not get the required 60-percent supermajority on the district’s first try in May, but residents approved the budget in a second vote in June. Several positions were cut, and from 2013-14 to 2014-15, the total increase in salaries for teachers in grades pre-kindergarten through 12 increased by $26,997.

Over the past two years, the district has not replaced a principal, a part-time technology teacher, a business teacher, a guidance director, a head custodian and a main office secretary in order to cut costs and preserve other programs.

Bridgehampton Test Scores Fall in Wake of Common Core

Tags: , , , , , ,


By Tessa Raebeck

Following the implementation of the Common Core Learning Standards last year and the immediate alignment of student assessments to the new curriculum, Bridgehampton School saw its scores on standardized tests drop across the board.

The Common Core, which according to its philosophy, aims to enhance learning essentially by teaching students to be thinkers rather than memorizers, was largely criticized last year for its implementation, which many educators, parents and students said was haphazard and too fast.

“There’s a difference between pre-Common Core and post-Common Core,” Bridgehampton Superintendent/Principal Dr. Lois Favre told the school board at its monthly meeting on Wednesday, September 24.

“By all measures that we have here our kids are growing,” she said, adding that 96 percent of Bridgehampton students met local growth targets, which are measured by where students are in September “to where we expect they will be at the end of the year.”

For English Language Arts (ELA) tests in grades 3 to 5, less than half of students scored the higher scores of a 3 or a 4 on the new state assessments. Dr. Favre said what needs to happen now is for the district “to understand better what the state tests are asking,” adding “that’s the training that the teachers are going through now.”

“This year is the first year that the state is actually releasing some questions, so we finally have an idea of what the test looks like,” Dr. Favre said.

Dr. Favre said Bridgehampton’s numbers tend to appear worse than they actually are, because the school’s small class sizes make for more extreme percentages. If two students fail in a class of eight, for example, the pass rate goes from 100 percent to 75 percent, whereas those same two students failing in a larger class would have a much less significant effect.

The superintendent said in moving forward, a primary goal of the district is to look at vocabulary development and to “change strategies we use to teach so that kids start to think in a different way.”

“I couldn’t understand why they would change standards and the test at the same time,” Dr. Favre said of the New York State Department of Education, saying she would have preferred to “watch our kids grow on the tests we’re familiar with.”

Students performed better on the math assessments, which the district had made an “area of focus,” the superintendent said.

Dr. Favre announced her intention to team up with other small schools, such as the Amagansett School District in East Hampton, so that teachers have colleagues to strategize with. Many Bridgehampton teachers are the only instructors in their subjects at their grade level and she believes they would benefit from a relationship with others experiencing the same challenges. Dr. Favre is in talks with Amagansett Superintendent Eleanor Tritt to make such an alliance happen.

Despite the poor showing on many primary tests, Bridgehampton did “beautifully” on high school exams, she said.

“That’s why I have every faith we have a great curriculum. We have great teachers, it’s just a matter of getting to know this test,” Dr. Favre said of the Common Core assessments.

In an effort to address weaknesses, the district has established data teams, groups of teachers that will meet for two hours every month to “really talk about these things” and plan curriculum alignment across the board.

Bridgehampton School District to Appoint New Athletic Director Wednesday

Tags: , , , , , ,


Bridgehampton's Tylik Furman going up for two of his game-high 30 points against Knox in January. Photo by Michael Heller.

Bridgehampton’s Tylik Furman going up for two of his game-high 30 points against Knox in January. Photo by Michael Heller.

By Tessa Raebeck

Eric Bramoff will fill the position as Bridgehampton School's athletic director. Photo courtesy Lil' Kickers of Syracuse.

Eric Bramoff will fill the position as Bridgehampton School’s athletic director. Photo courtesy Lil’ Kickers of Syracuse.

The Bridgehampton School District was expected to appoint Eric Bramoff as its new athletic director when it met Wednesday, August 27.

A Sag Harbor native and graduate of Pierson High School, Mr. Bramoff will fill the position left open by longtime physical education teacher and athletics director Mary Anne Jules, who retired in June. Bridgehampton Superintendent/Principal Dr. Lois Favre confirmed the appointment on August 20.

The full-time position will be split up between two roles; Mr. Bramoff will be a physical education teacher for 80 percent of the school day and athletic director for the remaining 20 percent of his day, effective July 1.

While at Pierson, Mr. Bramoff was an all-county soccer and baseball player. He was a three-year starter on the football team at SUNY Cortland, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education. He also has a master’s degree in education and is currently working towards his degree in educational administration at Le Moyne College in Syracuse.

Mr. Bramoff, who has coached football, baseball, basketball and soccer at many levels, is leaving his post as a physical education teacher at the Syracuse City School District. He also coaches at Sport Center 481 in East Syracuse and is the chief ocean lifeguard for the Village of East Hampton, as well as a champion in national lifeguard competitions.

He and his wife Brooke have two young children, Ethan and Dylan.

As both physical education teacher and athletic director, Ms. Jules was a staple on the sidelines of Bridgehampton School’s athletic contests for 32 years. Like Mr. Bramoff, she too attended SUNY Cortland and taught briefly in Syracuse.

Bridgehampton School Board Yet to Hire New Athletic Director

Tags: , , , , ,


By Tessa Raebeck

The Bridgehampton School is yet to settle on a plan for a new athletics administrator and physical education teacher following Mary Anne Jules’ retirement from her long-held post as athletic director last month.

At the Bridgehampton Board of Education’s regular meeting on Wednesday, July 30, new board member Jeffrey Mansfield questioned the cost of hiring a full-term athletic director.

“We’re going to talk about that and delineate it in executive session tonight,” replied Superintendent/Principal Dr. Lois Favre, adding they would “talk about the different options, so that I’m clear on what you want me to do.”

School Business Administrator Robert Hauser and several board members, including President Ronald White, were on vacation and did not attend the meeting.

The board weighed the cost effectiveness of hiring both a part-time athletic director and part-time physical education teacher after the small district pierced the 2-percent budget cap this spring. Ms. Jules was with the district for 32 years and served as the full-time athletic director for 23 of those years.

Dr. Favre said Monday, August 4, that the board had interviewed candidates on Friday, August 1, but no decision has been made. The administrators are waiting for information from the East Hampton and Sag Harbor school districts, she said.

“We need a part-time physical education teacher and a part-time athletic director,” Dr. Favre said in an email. “We are trying to determine the most cost-efficient way to move forward, and considering if it is feasible to share the administrative piece, and assure that the needs of our students are effectively met.”

Also at last week’s meeting, board member Douglas DeGroot said it would be cheaper and more practical for the school district to put do temporary repairs to a blacktop basketball court rather than redoing the asphalt altogether. Completely repaving the surface is “kind of like a zero investment,” Mr. DeGroot said.

“If it’s not a full-size basketball court now and it won’t be, who knows if we can get a master plan of various things—maybe we can turn it into a bigger basketball court…you wouldn’t want to put money in and then two years later want to turn [it into a] bigger court,” he continued.

The school board’s vice president, Lillian Tyree-Johnson, expressed her agreement and the other board members nodded in approval.

The board’s next meeting is Wednesday, August 27, at 7 p.m. in the school cafeteria.

“Delicious Nutritious FoodBook” Hits East End Farmers Markets This Weekend

Tags: , , , , ,


Food Book Cover

 

The cover of “The Delicious Nutritious FoodBook.” Photography by Ellen Watson.

By Mara Certic

The days of mystery meat at school lunch seem mercifully to be coming to an end.  Since First Lady Michelle Obama began updating the White House vegetable garden in 2008 and started the “get moving” campaign, school lunches have steadily been improving and there seems to be a new focus on nutrition and health all around the country.

This is not necessarily a new trend; schools such as Ross have had the means to provide healthy, balanced meals for their students for years. Judiann Carmack-Fayyaz taught Landscape Design at the Ross School before moving to the Bridgehampton School District. Upon changing jobs, she noticed a disparity in the quality of food at the two schools.

“I thought that was fundamentally unfair,” she said, “Food should be a right, not a privilege.” Through her position as a nutrition and culinary arts teacher, she worked with various edible school garden groups on the East End in an effort to teach children about healthy food.

When she was teaching nutrition and culinary arts at Bridgehampton, she said she noticed that even after her hard work, students were going home and eating unhealthy dinners. She decided that she wanted to “remove all obstacles of good eating,” and create an accessible way to educate parents and children alike about what, how and why they should be eating.

Now, after two years of planning, compiling and raising money through a Kickstarter campaign, the “Delicious Nutritious FoodBook” is available for everyone.

“It demystifies nutrition and cooking,” Ms. Carmack-Fayyaz said of the 96-page color book that resembles the Edible East End magazine. “We kept saying we really want something that looks great,” she said.fruits & veggies

Ms. Carmack-Fayyaz and her team sought out healthy recipes from parents, students and teachers in the Edible School Garden network as well as from chefs at some of the best restaurants on the East End. Elementary, middle and high school students have their recipes printed right alongside those from Sen, Nick & Toni’s and many others.

The “Delicious Nutritious FoodBook” is much more than a cookbook though, she said. “What we wanted to do was talk about what is food rather than tell you how to make stir-fried chicken,” Ms. Carmack-Fayyaz said. With production manager Annie Bliss and art director Kathleen Bifulco (and other contributors) she put together a sort of how-to guide to buying food, growing food and cooking and enjoying it.

The book begins with an introduction to “what food is” as well as a handy list of the things that should always be stocked in a pantry. Another section on “how to source food” provides information on the differences between growing food (as well as helpful gardening tips), eating local foods and buying produce in supermarkets. In the section of breakfast, the book talks about the importance of the first meal of the day, including research from the American Dietetic Association that mentions many benefits of eating a hearty meal in the morning. Sections on greens, beans, meat, fish and grains follow, with recipes and helpful tips guiding the reader along the way.

The recipes are not always strict, but are more there to provide certain guidelines, “Part of what we’re trying to tell people is that you don’t always have to know what a quarter cup is,” said Ms. Carmack-Fayyaz.

A whole slew of recipes from “101 Salads” by food journalist, author and New York Times columnist  Mark Bittman are included in the book under the “Eat the Rainbow” section, which discusses the phytonutrients and the reasons why one should eat different colored foods. Mr. Bittman’s recipes are short, unintimidating and do not require any measuring: “Cut cherry or grape tomatoes in half; toss with soy sauce, a bit of dark sesame oil and basil or cilantro.”

There is a two-pronged approach to selling and distributing the “Delicious Nutritious FoodBook,” Ms. Carmack-Fayyaz said. When school starts in the fall, the book will be available for purchase at back-to-school nights and similar events for the nominal fee of $1, which the school will be able to keep for its own purposes.

Funding the book through a Kickstarter campaign means that there are no residual costs to cover. But Ms. Carmack-Fayyaz has decided to expand the project and so, starting this weekend, the book will be available to all at farmers markets on the North and South Forks with a donation of $10 to Edible School Gardens, Ltd. “We want to use these funds to print more copies and maybe we could do a Spanish language version of it,” she said.

“What I would also love to do is get this to Southampton Hospital,” she said. All of the proceeds from those sales will go toward expansion of the project.

The book will be available for purchase at the following farmers markets: Montauk, East Hampton, Shelter Island, Hampton Bays, Hayground School, Flanders, Mattituck and Greenport. It will also be available at the Balsam Farms farm stand in Amagansett, Serene Green in Sag Harbor and at the North Fork Table & Inn farmers market in Southold.

 

 

 

 

 

Bridgehampton Board of Education Looks Forward

Tags: , , , , ,


BHSchoolStockImage

By Tessa Raebeck

The Bridgehampton Board of Education reappointed Ron White as president and Lillian Tyree-Johnson as vice president at its annual reorganizational meeting Wednesday, July 2.

“I appreciate the district and the board reelected me,” Mr. White said Wednesday, July 9. “It certainly has been a pleasure to learn and understand the operations of the district; it makes me understand why things are the way that they are.”

Mr. White said the challenge of the upcoming year will be to continue the drive to educate the community about the significance and benefits of Bridgehampton having its own small school. The Bridgehampton School District almost failed to pass a budget this spring, as its first draft—which would have pierced the state-mandated tax cap with a tax levy increase of 8.8-percent—was voted down. After a grassroots get out the vote effort by board members, administrators and school supporters, an identical proposal passed by a slim margin June 17.

“We need to continue the momentum of educating our overall community of this special establishment we have here in our own district,” said Mr. White. “We need to educate, we have to go to all corners of our community and just really educate them on the finances and also how beneficial it is to have a school in your district.

“We need to find a way to invite them in, we’ll have open houses, we’ll have meet the school days where they come on in and see us and even folks that don’t have kids here or [have] kids who are elsewhere, they need to know what their school really entails. I think that’s our challenge as a school district and as a board to try to get these folks in and to see how special and unique our place really is,” he added.

Ms. Tyree-Johnson is optimistic about the coming year now that the budget has passed.

“I’m actually looking forward to this year,” she said Wednesday, July 9. “We’re hoping to continue the good things that are going on there.”

“Because the budget passed, we’re able to continue with the programming that I there and that’s why I’m pretty excited about this year coming up and continuing doing what we do at Bridgehampton,” she added.

Ms. Tyree-Johnson said she is also looking forward to Dr. Lois Favre’s second year as both superintendent and principal.

“I think that she’s done a great job in that dual role,” Ms. Tyree-Johnson said of Dr. Favre. “So, I think that now that she has one year under her belt, things are going to look even better this year.”

Longtime Bridgehampton Athletic Director Mary Anne Jules Hangs Up Her Whistle

Tags: , , , , , , ,


 

Mary Anne Jules hugs a graduating student at the Bridgehampton School graduation Sunday, June 29. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz.

Mary Anne Jules hugs a graduating student at the Bridgehampton School graduation Sunday, June 29. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz.

By Tessa Raebeck

For 32 years, Mary Anne Jules has paced the sidelines at Bridgehampton School’s athletic contests, no small feat considering that Bridgehampton students often compete on East Hampton and Sag Harbor teams. After three decades of serving the small, tight-knit district as a physical education teacher and 23 years as its athletic director, Ms. Jules’s retirement was announced at the graduation of the class of 2014 Sunday, June 29.

The school gave Ms. Jules an honorary diploma at graduation and on Tuesday, July 1, she took time from watching the United States play Belgium in the World Cup to confirm her decision.

“I love my career at Bridgehampton,” Ms. Jules said Tuesday. “Believe me, it hasn’t been an easy decision… I’ve loved it there, it’s a great place to work. I’m very fortunate that I had my career there.”

“The district and I are very, very sad for her to go,” said Ronnie White, president of the Bridgehampton School Board. “She put in her time and she was just an extremely integral person, a mentor to our school.”

Ms. Jules’s athletic career extends past her time in Bridgehampton; She played sports her whole life and was a four-sport varsity athlete at Baldwin High School up-island, playing field hockey, volleyball, basketball and softball.

Mary Anne Jules, second from left, smiles as she watches her students graduate from Bridgehampton School Sunday, June 29. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz.

Mary Anne Jules, second from left, smiles as she watches her students graduate from Bridgehampton School Sunday, June 29. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz.

“Back then in my day, you could play four varsity sports, that’s changed since then,” said Ms. Jules, adding, “I’ve been pretty active my whole life.”

After shining at Baldwin, a large district in Nassau County, she was invited to play basketball at SUNY-Cortland in upstate New York—and quickly made the lacrosse team, too.

“I didn’t play lacrosse ’til college,” Ms. Jules said. “I just got lucky, I tried out for college lacrosse and I ended up making the team, so I was pretty fortunate.”

Some would argue that, in addition to luck, her athleticism had something to do with it.

After graduating from Cortland, Ms. Jules was a substitute teacher in Syracuse for a year and then took the position as Bridgehampton’s physical education teacher in 1982. While teaching, she got her master’s degree at Southampton College and her administration degree at Dowling College.

“If you’ve been involved in athletics, you know what a difference athletics makes in a kid’s life…I call it the laboratory for life,” she said. “I went to a great phys. ed. program and that’s why I wanted to become a phys. ed. teacher.”

While still acting as the school’s physical education teacher in 1991 Ms. Jules also became athletic director for the district. She also served as president of Section XI, the governing body of Suffolk County high school sports, from 2010 to 2012.

After years of wearing many hats and watching many games, Ms. Jules intends to spend her duly earned free time doing none other than watching games, but under the sole hat of doting aunt.

Three of her nephews play college-level lacrosse and she has several nieces and nephews involved in high school sports, so she will be catching up on watching them play, in addition to continuing to follow the careers of her Bridgehampton students.

“In all the years I’ve been there, they’re good kids,” Ms. Jules said of Bridgehampton. “In a small environment you get so much support, it’s a huge family…I’m just very appreciative and grateful for the career I’ve had and I will miss Bridgehampton School a lot, I really will.”

“It’s such a unique job in that you can teach from 4-year-olds to seniors. As a physical educator, I can teach all those kids. I can watch them grow. After that I go to graduation parties, I go to weddings, you really get to know the kids so well,” she said.

Mr. White said Ms. Jules, who lives in Water Mill, has promised to come back and visit from time to time.

“She will be missed, she is loved,” he said.

“That’s what’s so special about [Bridgehampton],” said Ms. Jules, “kids don’t fall through the cracks there. They get a lot of support and you can really become very close to the students. And you can make a difference, every day you can make a difference in the school.”

Bridgehampton School Board Feeling Better Now That Budget Has Passed

Tags: , , , , ,


BHSchoolStockImage

By Tessa Raebeck

The mood was considerably lighter at the monthly meeting of the Bridgehampton School Board on Wednesday, June 18. After months of worry over piercing the state-imposed tax cap, there was relief the day after the community approved the district’s $12.3 million 2014-15 budget on the second try.

“It’s been a great year overall,” said Dr. Lois Favre, who is completing her first year acting as both principal and superintendent for the district. “Despite our budget fight, it’s been a great year. I think it’s a good feel in the building, morale is good.”

The budget, which pierces the state-mandated tax cap by 8.8-percent, failed to gain the required 60-percent supermajority in the first communitywide vote on May 20. After a grassroots get-out-the-vote effort by the board, administrators and other supporters, it passed with 62 percent June 17.

Lillian Tyree-Johnson, a member of the school board, extended her compliments to Dr. Favre, business administrator Robert Hauser, and district clerk Tammy Cavanaugh at last Wednesday’s meeting.

“During this revote process,” she said, “it’s been really grueling and you guys have handled it with incredible grace. It was really a tough time and I commend you all for absolutely answering questions with ease.”

“The transparency is impeccable as well,” added Ronald White, president of the school board. “Any question that you guys were ever given, you guys were able to answer it. It was clear and people totally understood, I understood it.”

Also at the meeting, Mr. Hauser updated the board on facilities improvements around the Bridgehampton campus. The bulk of capital projects take place over the summer, so as not to interfere with instructional time.

New equipment for the playground has been ordered and the renovation should be completed by August 15, several weeks before the start of school.

A Bridgehampton resident donated a playhouse to the school that board members are quite impressed by.

“I was actually thinking about moving my office in there,” Mr. Hauser joked.

Update: In Second Vote Attempt, Bridgehampton School Budget Passes

Tags: , , , ,


District Treasurer Laura Spillane and District Clerk Tammy Cavanaugh celebrate after the passage of the Bridgehampton School budget vote on Tuesday, June 17. Photo by Michael Heller.

District Treasurer Laura Spillane and District Clerk Tammy Cavanaugh celebrate after the passage of the Bridgehampton School budget vote as school board member Jennifer Vinski looks on on Tuesday, June 17. Photo by Michael Heller.

By Tessa Raebeck

Bridgehampton voters approved a $12.3 million budget that pierces a state-mandated tax cap on the second try on Tuesday, June 17.

Out of 385 voters casting ballots, 240 voted yes and 145 said no, giving the budget 62-percent approval, just above the 60-percent supermajority required to pierce the state-mandated tax cap.

The budget requires a $10.6 million tax levy, an 8.8-percent increase over the 2013-14 budget. It amounts to an increase of about $56 for the year on the tax bill of a house valued at $500,000, district officials said.

In the district’s first budget vote on May 20, a total of 247 voters turned out. Of those, 54 percent, or 134 voters, said yes to the budget and 113 said no.

School board members, parents and community supporters responded to the defeat with a grassroots, get-out-the-vote campaign to ensure there were more ballots to count in the second go-round. With a turnout increase of 138 and double the supporters in attendance as the results were read, it appeared they had succeeded.

Those students, parents and administrators gathered in the Bridgehampton School gymnasium Tuesday night to hear the results of their second and final attempt seemed to let out a collective sigh of relief as the tally was read.

“We are thrilled,” said Lillian Tyree-Johnson, a lifelong Bridgehampton resident and school board member, who said she had gotten little sleep in the weeks in between the votes, as she lay in bed wondering what they would do should more cuts need to be made.

If the budget had failed a second time, the district would have been forced to adopt a 0-percent tax levy increase and craft a new plan with some $800,000 less in spending than the one proposed.

Contractual obligations account for the majority of the budget’s increased costs. An increase of $332,000 in the cost of medical insurance for employees alone put the district’s levy increase over the tax cap.

Elizabeth Kotz and Melanie LaPointe count absentee ballots following the Bridgehampton School budget vote in the school's gymnasium on Tuesday, June 17. Photo by Michael Heller.

Elizabeth Kotz and Melanie LaPointe count absentee ballots following the Bridgehampton School budget vote in the school’s gymnasium on Tuesday, June 17. Photo by Michael Heller.

“It’s good that they didn’t have to go through that struggle of trying to figure out how to make the cuts that they would have had to face,” said Elizabeth Kotz, who served on the board this year when the budget was crafted but did not seek another term. “It would have been just terrible.” Ms. Kotz is the wife of Sag Harbor Express managing editor Stephen J. Kotz.

“We have some work to do in the very near future to begin strategizing on new and innovative ways to communicate to naysayers about how wonderful their school is,” Ronald White, president of the school board, said Wednesday. “We appreciate the super majority, as their answer was clear to pierce.”

“The current board has worked very diligently to cut costs and provide savings to our district,” he added.

After the results were read Tuesday, school board member Jennifer Vinski accounted the success to “the community at large that really kind of realized that this was serious business. There’s too much to lose.”

“We are grateful to the Bridgehampton community for their support on the second vote,” Dr. Lois Favre, superintendent/principal for the district, said in an email Wednesday, June 18. “We thank everyone who took the time to vote, and we look forward to continuing our good work on behalf of the students of Bridgehampton School, confident that we can continue to move forward with our goals for continual improvement.”