For several years now, the Montauk School Board has been trying to get specific numbers and test scores for students from the Montauk School District. Members wanted to know how the students were doing compared to their counterparts and how many were dropping out of high school before graduation.
Adam Fine, the East Hampton High School principal, visited the board on Tuesday to help. Armed with a 12-page booklet outlining performance assessments from 2011, he said there are now 925 students attending the high school, 150 of whom are from Montauk.
He said that the state’s 2-percent cap on property tax increases that went into effect last year prevented the East Hampton district from replacing several teachers who retired. “We’re bursting at the seams right now. I’m not looking forward to the budget this year,” he said.
With the exception of earth science and trigonometry, Montauk students are doing well on testing. In algebra 2-trigonometry, 56 percent of Montaukers passed their Regents exams, in comparison to 60 percent over all at the high school. “We’re making a huge push to improve this,” the principal said.
In earth science, 59 percent of Montauk students passed, versus 73 percent overall. In geometry, 87 percent of Montauk students had passing grades, compared to 79 percent schoolwide. Last year was the first that the school made an effort to push the students into geometry, Mr. Fine said. “Your scores are good, very good. We’re still acclimating them.”
The dropout rate has decreased to what Mr. Fine called a very minimal amount, he said in response to a question from Patti Leber, a Montauk School Board member. The problem with some of the district’s students is that they want to start working on fishing boats right away, he said. But he discourages that, he said, and tries to explain the value of getting at least a two-year college degree.
“That’s my battle with some of the Montauk kids. I tell them there is an inherent value in getting a degree. It’s a hard sell,” Mr. Fine said.
When asked how Montauk students perform socially and athletically, the principal said they were fine. All students have some way of identifying their hometowns, he said, and even if he doesn’t know where the students come from, it’s easy to tell from the sweatshirts and other apparel they wear, which are often plastered with “Montauk.”
“They maintain their hometown identities, but the bottom line is once they’re here, they’re all Bonac,” he said.