After much hemming and hawing, the East Hampton School Board meetings will be televised, a decision reached on Tuesday night following a presentation by LTV, which has agreed to broadcast the bimonthly meetings on Cablevision at no cost to the district.
Patricia Hope, the board’s recently elected president, inquired as to the cost of including Spanish subtitles. According to the most recent New York State report card, the East Hampton Union Free School District is now 41 percent Latino.
Seth Redlus, the executive director of LTV, said the cost of including subtitles depended on how quick a turnaround is desired and can run anywhere from $60 to $300 an hour. Also at issue, presumably, is the length of each broadcast. Tuesday’s meeting lasted for more than two and a half hours.
“It’s a great service to the community and would enhance the community as a whole,” said Ms. Hope. LTV officials said they would report back concerning the final cost for Spanish-language transcription, a cost the district would front. “We can’t be the first district in America to have had this idea,” Ms. Hope said.
Ana Nunez, the district’s community liaison, who was hired last December to increase communication between the district and Spanish-speaking parents, said her goal for the coming year was to expand her work in each of the district’s three buildings: the John M. Marshall Elementary School, East Hampton Middle School, and East Hampton High School.
Come September, she has planned for four meetings at each of the three schools, though topics are subject to change depending on the needs of her constituents.
In other news, the board accepted the resignations of five employees: Alida Delacruz, a bilingual clerk typist; Mary Ellen Hess, a paraprofessional; Christopher Reich, a technology education teacher; Robyn Mott, a junior varsity head field hockey coach, and Jonathan Krupp, a social studies teacher. The board also accepted the retirement of Priscilla Campbell, a social studies teacher and longtime teacher’s union leader, who, after 22 years, is taking a position with New York State United Teachers, a 600,000-member teachers’ union.
On July 30, the seven-member board met for an executive session to discuss matters related to a recent security audit. The private meeting lasted more than three hours. In the wake of last year’s school shooting in Newtown, Conn., many schools on the East End have reviewed their security and safety protocol, though most have yet to enact sweeping changes.
“Some things are more simple to correct than others,” said James P. Foster, a board member. “We are working on fixing the things that we need to fix up front.”
“After changes have been put in place, we will be able to share with the community the changes and updating we have done,” concluded Ms. Hope, who declined to reveal any specifics.
Finally, the board updated audience members about the Sandpebble lawsuit, which has haunted the district for more than six years. At issue is a multimillion-dollar contract for a school construction project dating back to April of 2002. Sandpebble Builders, a construction company based in Southampton, initially began negotiations with the district when the project was slated to cost $18 million. Eventually, it ballooned to upward of $80 million.
“There are two more outstanding depositions,” said Richard Burns, the superintendent. “As soon as those are completed, we’re ready for the next recommendation from our counsel. I don’t want to go into specifics, but there’s a definite strategy that we’re moving forward with.”
Meanwhile, legal fees continue to mount. Pinks, Arbeit, and Nemeth, a Hauppauge law firm representing the district’s interests as it relates to Sandpebble, charges an hourly rate of $375.
Going forward, rather than meeting in the cramped quarters of the district office, the East Hampton School Board meetings will now be held in the high school’s library. The next meeting is scheduled for Sept. 3 at 6:30 p.m.