Quiet but Necessary School District Votes

School board and budget votes are next week, but you would hardly know it. Meetings at which annual spending plans were discussed this spring have been lightly attended, and for the most part there are few competitive races for school board.

Most notably, perhaps, a late addition to the East Hampton School District ballot has had Cedar Street neighborhood residents alarmed. They assumed, with good reason, that a hastily called morning meeting on April 7 to add money to the school’s capital reserve fund was an end run in the board’s attempt to build a bus facility there. The board denied this, saying it was necessary to get the capital reserve measure in front of voters. The impression left was negative, given the heat about the bus depot, but that should not doom the proposal for a capital reserve fund. Whether or not Cedar Street should be used for bus access is a separate issue, one that residents are right to be upset about.

District cash reserves can be critical in times of unexpected need. In most cases how the money is spent requires voter approval. For example, the Bridgehampton School may seek residents’ authorization to add a geothermal heating and cooling system to the already-budgeted renovation and expansion of the building, asking for the okay to tap money already set aside. The Sag Harbor School District is seeking the okay on Tuesday to use money from its reserve for new, energy-efficient windows at Pierson High School and the elementary school.

If the East Hampton School Board sought to use its reserve for the bus project or anything else, it, too, would have to go to the public. Voting on the reserve proposition, the uncontested board seats, Jacqueline Lowey and John Ryan Sr.’s, and the $68.3 million 2017-18 budget will take place in the district office on Long Lane on Tuesday from 1 to 8 p.m.

In Springs, drama arose only on the eve of the vote, with one official candidate but two board seats in play. After Liz Mendelman decided not to run again, Timothy Frazier remained as the only candidate with a place on the ballot. This is where things got interesting. 

   Three people are now semi-officially mounting last-minute write-in campaigns for the Springs board: Patrick Brabant, Donna Sutton, and Ivonne Tovar-Morales. All of the hopefuls, including Mr. Frazier, are excellent choices, and it bodes well for the school’s future should they continue to be involved. Springs School District residents can cast their votes on the $28.1 million 2017-18 plan from 1 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday.

In Amagansett, Anna Bernasek, Patrick Bistrian III, and Dawn Rana-Brophy are running unopposed. David Eagan is up for re-election in Wainscott, as is Kelly White in Montauk. Three incumbent board members in Sag Harbor — Diana Kolhoff, Sandi Kruel, and Theresa Samot — want to return; they have two challengers, January Kerr and Alex Kriegsman.

Poll times vary and can be found on The Star’s calendar page. Though there is little argument about the budgets this year, residents should be sure to show up and cast their votes.