Waiting for Dr. Soriano

    An East Hampton School Board vote to approve a medical leave extension through Friday, Jan. 18, for Charles Soriano, the middle school principal, got people talking at a board meeting Tuesday night.
    Rumored to have contracted Lyme disease, Dr. Soriano has been away from his post since early fall. A former principal, Thomas Lamorgese, has served as interim principal at the school since mid-November.
    Claude Beudert, a special education teacher at the middle school, thanked the board for allowing Mr. Lamorgese to step in. “Thank you for providing us some leadership. We couldn’t have done it without him,” said Mr. Beudert, reading from prepared remarks. “I don’t know whose idea it was but it was a terrific one and it has helped get us through a very difficult time.”
    While many were hoping Dr. Soriano, who had been the district’s assistant superintendent until this school year, might return before the holiday break, his continued absence provoked discussion. Near the end of the meeting, Brian Anderson questioned the basis for his extended medical leave, asking for more information related to his health. Mr. Anderson’s wife, Alison Anderson, is a board member.
    The superintendent, Richard Burns, said he was unable to comment further because it is a personnel matter.
    After much go-round at last month’s meeting, the highly disputed girls varsity softball team’s annual spring training trip to the ESPN Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort in Kissimmee, Fla., was finally approved Tuesday night, once the team arranged to take a later flight — enabling the girls to miss just two days of instruction versus the three that had originally been planned.
    Going forward, Jackie Lowey, a board member, asked that it be communicated to all sports teams “that they should come to the board before any tickets are purchased.”
    In the wake of the Newtown, Conn., shooting, Mr. Burns said the district was in the process of upgrading its security. So far, two meetings have been convened with the district’s principals and custodians to specifically address concerns related to building safety, he said.
    The board also updated those in attendance about the ongoing lawsuit between the district and Sandpebble Builders over a multimillion-dollar school construction contract that dates back to April 2002. According to George Aman, the board’s president, witnesses from the district are still being deposed, a process expected to last until sometime next month.
    Also on Tuesday, Joseph Vasile-Cozzo, known as Joe Vas, East Hampton High School’s athletic director, announced that the school had been recognized first in Suffolk County for its sportsmanship.
    With the New Year comes an earlier meeting time for the East Hampton School Board. The meetings, which routinely last upward of three hours, are normally held at 7:30 p.m. on alternating Tuesday nights. Going forward, they will now convene at 6:30 p.m. in the hopes of making it more convenient for people to attend them.
    Later this winter, beginning on Jan. 29, the board will convene regular work sessions related to the 2013-14 budget — with additional meetings scheduled for Feb. 12 and 26, March 12, and April 9. During these work sessions, board members will review the budget on a line-by-line basis. The public may attend, but there will be no public comment periods.
    On April 16, the board is scheduled to adopt the budget proposal, with the public hearing scheduled for May 7. The annual budget vote and election of East Hampton School Board members will take place on May 21.