Reduced Hours to Beat Cap

The board agreed to reduce two to three teacher positions to part time next year

    At the end of a Montauk School Board meeting on Tuesday that was attended by the school attorney, Bill Cullen, who is rarely at board meetings, a group of teachers remained in their seats after it was adjourned into an executive session. They stayed on to discuss a counterproposal that the teachers association presented to the board regarding teacher contract negotiations, which have been ongoing for more than a year. The teachers are now working under an existing contract.
    Yesterday morning, Jack Perna, the district superintendent, said there were no determinations made in the executive session beyond the fact that the board agreed to reduce two to three teacher positions to part time next year, which would enable the school to stay within the state’s 2-percent cap on tax levy increases.
    At a meeting on April 17, the board passed a resolution that specifically authorized Mr. Perna to take the “necessary and appropriate actions” for a partial reorganization of teaching staff and programs for the 2012-13 school year. It would go into effect on July 1.
    Teacher salaries and tuition to East Hampton High School make up an estimated half of the school’s budget proposal of $18.5 million for the 2012-13 fiscal year, with a little less than $5 million being paid to regular and special education instructors.
    When residents vote on the budget proposal on Tuesday, there will be a proposition on the ballot asking them to approve a five-year tuition contract with the East Hampton School District. The cost to educate Montauk students who attend the high school next year is listed at about $4.5 million. Voting will take place in the school gym from 2 to 8 p.m. Kelly White, a school board member, is running unopposed for a second five-year term.
    Board members learned Tuesday that in 1972 the Montauk School added four portable classrooms, which are now used as three classrooms and a storage area, on the east side of the building. They were supposed to last for 10 years but are still being used. When the cost of repairs came up, however, the board began considering ditching them and adding a permanent structure.
    “That was a superintendent’s dream,” Mr. Perna said after the meeting. He explained that new portables could be rented for three years before they are permanently attached. After the three years, any add-on structures would have to go before the public in a referendum.
    “It would make more sense,” Diane Hausman, the school board president, said, referring to purchasing new ones instead of paying the increasing cost of maintaining the old ones.
    “Get rid of them and expand the building,” Lisa Ward, a board member, said. “I prefer an add-on or something that becomes a part of the gym.”
    They decided to study it further and handed the research project over to Ms. Ward and Therese Watson, another board member, both of whom are on the building and grounds committee.
    Also at the meeting, Ms. Hausman read a letter from Lawrence Cooke, the chairman of the Montauk Indian Museum committee, asking the board for its support for a plan to improve an existing structure on the grounds of Second House Museum to house the Indian Museum. He wrote in the letter that the committee recently received site plan approval from East Hampton Town.
    “It will probably be something very beneficial and something the kids will use,” Ms. Hausman said. “I don’t see why we wouldn’t want it.” The board fully supported the project.