It’s in the Lawyers’ Hands

       At Tuesday night’s meeting of the East Hampton School Board, Richard Burns, the district superintendent, updated the few audience members in attendance concerning the district’s ongoing lawsuit with Sandpebble Builders — a legal dispute now lasting more than six years.

       At issue is a multimillion-dollar contract for a school construction project dating back to 2002. When Sandpebble Builders, a Southampton building company, initially began negotiations with the district, the project was slated to cost $18 million. It eventually ballooned upward of $80 million. The two sides have remained deadlocked ever since, as legal fees continue to rise.

       “There hasn’t been much change,” said Mr. Burns, noting that a meeting with a judge had been postponed from Nov. 15 to Dec. 5, with depositions likely to continue well into February. “Hopefully the trial will start soon after,” he said. “It’s in the hands of the lawyers.”

       Also at the unusually short, 45-minute meeting, Joe Vas, the district’s athletic director, said that some East Hampton sports teams now will have shorter distances to travel to compete with schools up the Island, trips that have been known to take an hour and a half. The new arrangement, which will begin in the spring, will cut down travel time considerably by making Rocky Point the farthest western district teams will visit.

       Varsity and junior varsity teams in soccer, volleyball, baseball, softball, track, and basketball will be affected. More on this change can be found in today’s sports section.

       In addition, Mr. Vas announced that every one of the district’s fall teams received a scholar-athlete award, meaning that each team had a collective grade-point average of 90 or better.

       Also on the athletics front, the board voted to accept the resignation of Louis Russo, a junior varsity wrestling coach, effective Nov. 12. It also approved an extended medical leave for Mr. Russo, from Nov. 7 to Dec. 4.

       The board unanimously voted to accept an amended school facilities policy, following weeks of intense debate. The major changes involve establishing a more consistent policy for facilities’ use. There is now a fee schedule for not-for-profit and for-profit organizations that serve adults, and district-owned facilities will be closed to the public on Sundays.

       The amended policy prohibits adult use of athletic fields during weekends, which includes group sports. This prohibition does not apply to the track or tennis courts.

       In terms of future field trips, board members approved a trip for the high school’s jazz band to attend a workshop and recording session in Orlando, Fla., from April 3 to April 6. The estimated cost is $1,000 per student, with those costs offset by fund-raising. The district is likely to cover $500 in transportation costs.

       The board also approved a seventh-grade trip to the Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut on June 5. The cost is $74 per student, which includes a water taxi from Montauk and bus transportation in Connecticut. The district will pay $485 for bus transportation to and from Montauk.