School Budgets Pass From Montauk to Bridgehampton

Voters in East Hampton approved the budget and gave the district the go-ahead to purchase land for a new bus depot. Judy D'Mello

Voters from Montauk to Bridgehampton approved their respective school district budgets for the 2018-19 year on Tuesday. Polls closed at 8 p.m. in East Hampton, Amagansett, Montauk, Bridgehampton, and Wainscott, 8:30 in Sagaponack, and at 9 p.m. in Springs and Sag Harbor. Budgets in all eight school districts came in below the state-mandated tax cap. Voters also selected new school board members in East Hampton, Sag Harbor, and Sagaponack, and returned incumbents for additional terms in seven districts. 

East Hampton

Christina DeSanti, the current vice president of the East Hampton School Board, retained her seat with 436 votes, while the other available seat was won by Sarah Minardi, a newcomer, with 467 votes. Jeffrey Erickson got 241 votes. Ms. Minardi becomes the only board member with a child in the elementary school.

With a vote of 532 to 89, the East Hampton School District's $68.9 million budget proposal was approved. The budget reflects an almost $1 million increase over this year.

Also greenlighted was a referendum for an $8.9 million bond to cover the purchase of a three-acre property on Springs-Fireplace Road, and the subsequent construction of a school bus depot and vocational education center there. That proposition was decided by 459 votes in favor and 158 votes against.  

Amagansett

Budget and voting season is rarely uneventful in this tiny district.

The approximately $10.75 million budget for 2018-19 was approved, 171 votes to 74. However, all eyes were on the battle for the one available school board seat, which had been retained last year by Dawn Rana-Brophy in a tightly contested race. Having finished in third place last year, her spot was secured only for a one-year term. Back on the ballot this year, she faced opposition from Mary Eames, a write-in candidate last year who was defeated. Ms. Eames declared herself an official candidate this year. She has been a regular at school board meetings, where she has continually questioned the fiscal responsibility of the administration and the board. In the end, however, Ms. Rana-Brophy won a full three-year term, receiving 134 votes to Ms. Eames's 104.

Voters also approved two additional propositions. The first authorized the expenditure of $107,000 from a 2007 energy and technology capital reserve fund to purchase and install technology systems at the school. The second allowed for the use of a maximum of $100,000 from a 2015 renovations and upgrades capital reserve fund for the purchase of a new school bus.

Springs

The 2018-19 budget of $28.9 million was approved with 269 saying yes and 151 saying no.

The $760,610 increase included a $277,000 contingency plan to cover faculty salaries should federal funding be eliminated.

Voters also approved spending $150,000 to purchase two new wheelchair-accessible school buses to replace outdated ones; 271 were in favor, 149 against.

Barbara Dayton, the board's president, who ran unopposed, was re-elected with 332 votes.

Montauk

Once again, no surprises in Montauk, where the $19.8 million budget for next year sailed through with a vote of 94 to 14, and Lee White, an incumbent running unopposed for his third five-year term, won it with 102 votes. There was one write-in vote for Karen Kuneth.

Although the budget was up by $970,000 from this year's, $800,000 of that constitutes a payment into the school's capital reserve fund, which the district hopes to use next year to replace its aging portable units.

Bridgehampton

Bridgehampton's $16.3 million budget passed with 100 voting for it and 44 against. The budget reflected an almost $2 million increase over this year, of which almost $1 million is the first payment on the $24.7 million bond approved by voters in 2016 to finance the school expansion and renovation, expected to begin on July 1.

Three incumbents on the school board, Ronald White, the current president, Lillian Tyree-Johnson, the vice president, and Douglas DeGroot, all running unopposed, retained their seats with 130, 129, and 126 votes, respectively.

Sagaponack

Voters in Sagaponack unanimously passed the school's $1.53 million budget proposal, with 87 votes. Sagaponack's budget reflected a decrease of $165,890 when compared to this year. The student population and projected enrollment for next year are down and therefore less money will be required for out-of-district tuition, school supplies and equipment, and transportation.

Two first-time candidates were running for one seat on the school board. Lauren Thayer was the winner with 64 votes. Diane Payne got 26. 

Voters also approved a one-year tuition contract with the Sag Harbor School District to educate the Sagaponack district's preschool and fourth through sixth-grade students, and a one-year tuition contract with the East Hampton School District to educate only fourth through sixth graders.

Wainscott

The Wainscott School District's $3.33 million budget for the 2017-18 school year was approved with 29 votes in favor and 0 against. The budget showed an increase of $383,938 from this year, which is the first increase after the board has successfully reduced its budgets for the previous six years.

With no challengers on the ballot, Kelly Anderson was re-elected to the school board with 29 votes.

Sag Harbor

Voters said yes to a $41.9 million budget for 2018-19 with a total of 353 votes in favor and 162 against. Increased security measures and enhancing the district's special education programs account for much of the almost $2 million increase.
Voters also said yes to a proposition to reduce the district's current eligibility for free transportation for students from one mile to a half-mile distance from school. That was approved by 342 votes to 170.

For school board, Susan Schaefer, an incumbent, and Jordana Sobey, a newcomer, were voted in with 436 and 389 votes, respectively. They ran unopposed.