Tag Archive | "school"

New Horizons

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The Bridgehampton School has had to deal with more than its fair share of controversy this year as two school board members sought to place a referendum on a ballot to close the high school. The topic has been at the forefront of discussion in the district since February, with many residents — and to a certain extent, the board of education — unable to concentrate on anything else.

On Tuesday, the taxpayers of the Bridgehampton School District sent a message about the leadership they would like to see on the board of education, eliminating incumbent Joe Conti from the board of education.

Conti supported fellow board member Joe Berhalter’s two petitions for referendum to close the high school, possibly his downfall in this election as Bridgehampton saw record turnout and he received the fewest votes. In a letter to The Southampton Press Berhalter said he would allow the voters of Bridgehampton to have their voices heard in this election, alluding to dropping his bid to close the high school should Conti not be re-elected.

For the sake of the school district, and specifically for the children who attend Bridgehampton, we hope Berhalter keeps his word. Bridgehampton does not pretend to be Southampton or East Hampton, or even Sag Harbor, nor does it want to be. It knows it’s small and parents who have given the school more than a sideways glance of consideration know it is the district’s very size that allows for individualized education and specialized programs with institutions of higher education like Stony Brook and Dowling College. Bigger is not always better.

That being said, the board of education needs to take this opportunity to continue to strive towards making Bridgehampton the best little school it can be, whether through shared service agreements, the expansion of the Career Academies and through the development of its pre-kindergarten program. It should also do its due diligence in performing a true assessment of what the impact would be on taxpayers should the high school be closed.

This board will need to be aggressive and public in its work should Bridgehampton weather future storms bound to appear on the horizon that question its existence. 

School Endorsements

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Sag Harbor

 

The Sag Harbor School District is approaching a critical time in its history, as technology changes the face of education and the competition for graduating students becomes greater. Add to this the search for a new superintendent to lead the schools through this time of flux, and the school’s board of education has quite a charge. More than ever it is a time for a group of men and women with a strong vision of the future.

This year there are four challengers for three seats on the board. At the same time, the public is being asked to vote on a $28.5 million spending plan that, while seeing a modest increase in spending, actually delivers a reduction in the tax rate.

This year’s group of candidates have all appeared dedicated and committed. We have been impressed with incumbents Theresa Samot and Dan Hartnett. We have watched as Mr. Hartnett has gone out of his way to build consensus on the board and consistently emerges as a voice of reason. His is articulate, pragmatic and someone we want to see back on the board.

While Theresa Samot’s presence as board president needs to be stronger and may be worthwhile reconsidering — as meetings become contentious a more forceful voice is needed —  her experience on the board has been a plus. Her desire to focus on student achievement and long range goals for the district makes her a member we want to see returned to the board.

Both John Daniels and Mary Anne Miller have run strong and aggressive campaigns. Mr. Daniels, whose experience as head of building and grounds in Bridgehampton makes him uniquely qualified to speak on the physical plant.

But Ms. Miller has already distinguished herself as a dedicated member of the school community who is conversant with the “business of education”, serving on the school’s Budget Advisory Committee, and is as knowledgeable on school matters as many current board members — perhaps more so. Of note is the fact that, in the past year, she has attended every school board meeting except for two. A better record than some board members. She has our vote.

We also urge you to vote in favor of the budget. It is a conservative plan that maintains a strong educational program. About the best we can hope for in tough financial times.

 

Bridgehampton

 

After years of suffering beneath the weight of a negative public image, Bridgehampton School has begun to see its light shine. With a relationship with Dowling College and a career academy that is getting a lot of attention and positive reviews, the school is re-defining itself in great ways. You can count us among those who hope the school continues to prosper and thrive.

On Tuesday voters will choose two candidates who will help continue to steer the school in a positive direction. Elizabeth Kotz’ drive, understanding, intensity and passion have become more evident as she has matured as a board member. Practical, but not to a fault, Kotz has shown the ability to tackle issues realistically, but without losing sight of what is the heart of the problem. Of the four, she is the one candidate that we immediately believed needed to remain.

When Conti was elected to the board last year he brought the perspective of another faction in the Bridgehampton community concerned about the state of the school. Throughout the year he showed his affinity for long term planning, an issue not many on the board seemed ready to tackle.

Nicky Nemby has yet to miss a school board meeting for at least the past year, and is clearly devoted to the school, the teachers and most importantly the students.

But it is Karen Hochstedler who stands out among the three as the candidate willing and able to help move Bridgehampton out of the past and into the future. She has our vote.

The Bridgehampton school board has gone to great pains to produce a budget that shows a decrease in spending — a feat on the East End. If voters concerned about rising cost were to support any budget, this would be it.

 

Once More With Feeling

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Emotions in the Bridgehampton community are sure to be at a fever pitch come Monday night’s school board meeting, specifically because the debate to close the district’s high school has been resurrected by board member Joe Berhalter.

This week Berhalter submitted his second petition to force a referendum on the concept. As we said in our last editorial on this undeniably controversial subject, the timing of this petition is frankly poor at best.

We respect that Berhalter has wanted to engage the district in debate about the school’s future, and that he may have a different idea than the majority of the board as to where the students of Bridgehampton will find the best high school education.

In fact, it is our hope when the community reacts to this news – and we know they will – that they do so with less fury than at the last school board meeting dedicated to this topic. While we understand this is an emotional issue, it serves everyone far better if dialogue is created, and dialogue is seldom found between screams.

That being said, we disagree with the method Berhalter has chosen to employ in a quest to fulfill his goals in the district. What we specifically disagree with is that there has been very little discussion at public meetings about this concept, and it appears, very little planning involved.

What we have enjoyed in Berhalter’s short tenure with the board, and that of his counterpart Joe Conti, is that they have strived to create communication about issues, even when they are largely unpopular. Conti is a believer in planning for the future, which is why we were disappointed to see his name attached to a petition that has had at the very least, little public planning behind it.

Planning behind closed doors does not count on an issue that will directly affect a number of parents and students in Bridgehampton, especially when the economic impact to the school district as a whole as yet to be explained on more than a few pages.

We respect there may be some in the Bridgehampton community who honestly want to close the high school. But again, they have been largely voiceless at board meetings, which can only lead us to believe much is being talked about behind closed doors, and behind closed doors is no place for a school’s future to be planned. 

Mob Meetings

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The Bridgehampton School Board’s decision to reject a petition for referendum to close the high school was the right decision. As many board members noted during a raucous meeting on Monday, so little is known about the consequences of such a monumental decision. It would have been unfair to the community to place such an initiative on a ballot just two months away.

Almost as refreshing as watching a board stand up for a school they have worked tirelessly to improve, was seeing the community, the teachers, and the students come out in droves to voice their opinions.

This has been largely lacking at school board meetings where often, the press, a handful of teachers and a few members of the Parent Teacher Organization are on hand to listen to the board discuss the business of the Bridgehampton School.

This kind of turnout was also absent during last year’s May election, where the budget passed by a lone vote in its favor. 

If the Bridgehampton community wants the school to remain a school and empower the board to develop new, creative ways to further what we think is already an impressive educational atmosphere, then the community needs to become a bigger part of the process.

Life gets busy. We understand many families, including our own, rely on more than one job to get by in an increasingly expensive East End. We understand parents have children to tend to, household chores to complete after a long day at work.

That being said, we also understand, to a certain extent, battle lines over the future of the Bridgehampton School have been drawn, and in the case of this petition, aggressively so.

We would urge members of the community to support their school, support the board members who are doing their best to better Bridgehampton, and attend meetings, and even those that don’t revolve around a hot button issue as we witnessed last week.

Mob them. Make your voices heard. After all, throughout the course of history, a lot of bad ideas have come to pass all because the rest of the world was to busy and forgot to pay attention.