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Story - Education

May 19, 2010 12:13 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

School budgets pass east of the canal; Berhalter ousted from Bridgehampton School Board

May 19, 2010 12:13 PM

Southampton Town voters east of the Shinnecock Canal approved their school districts’ budgets and propositions across the board at the polls on Tuesday and elected both old and new faces to their school boards.

The biggest upset occurred in the Bridgehampton School District, where incumbent, and often outspoken, School Board member Joseph Berhalter was ousted by a pair of political newcomers, Jo Ann Comfort and Larry LaPointe. Mr. Berhalter, who was first elected to the board in 2007, often held views contrary to the rest of the board, and two years ago, lobbied unsuccessfully for a voter referendum on closing the Bridgehampton High School.

On Tuesday, he garnered just 91 votes, to Ms. Comfort’s 148 votes and Mr. LaPointe’s 139, according to the unofficial results.

“I congratulate Jo Ann and Larry and thank the board for putting up with me for three years,” the defeated incumbent said Tuesday night. “I did my best from day one to better the educational opportunities of our students.”

Meanwhile, Bridgehampton taxpayers overwhelmingly supported the proposed $10.0 million budget for the 2010-11 school year—which represented a $61,808 decrease from this year’s spending plan—by a vote of 217-61.

The district’s other propositions were approved by comfortable margins as well. The one authorizing the School Board to spend $1.35 million to replace all of the windows in the school building passed 190-83, and the one authorizing the acceptance and spending of a state grant to bring parts of the school building up to code passed 225-40.

The proposition to legalize the district’s transportation policy and to allocate funds to the transportation program passed 212-58. And the proposition to fulfill contractual obligations with the Bridgehampton Child Care & Recreation Center passed 203-68.

Sag Harbor

While some were skeptical that Sag Harbor’s taxpayers would be willing to endorse a $31.5 million budget that includes a 6.27-percent increase in spending, they did—by a mere 30 votes. A total of 1,051 people voted for the budget, and 1,021 voted against it on Tuesday.

A few minutes after the budget passed, Superintendent John Gratto gave the thumbs-up sign to School Board President Walter Wilcoxen.

Unopposed School Board candidates Chris Tice and Ed Drohan Sr. were voted in, garnering 1,270 and 1,055 votes, respectively. And all three of the district’s other propositions were approved, including one that significantly changed the district’s transportation policy. A majority of voters—1,217, according to the unofficial results—agreed that, starting in the 2010-11 school year, the district should only be responsible for transporting students who live within 15 
miles of their school. The 
current limit is 30 miles. 
Another 755 voted against that measure.

The proposition to permit the School Board to purchase two school buses and either a bus or a van, passed 1,082-922, and the proposition to allow the board to create a reserve fund to replace other school buses passed 1,031-931.


In the Southampton School District, School Board President Don King won a commanding reelection victory with 563 votes, according to the unofficial count on Tuesday. Former School Board member and onetime Southampton Town Councilwoman Roberta Hunter, meanwhile, was returned to the board with 488 votes.

Only two seats on the board were open this year.

Three first-time candidates rounded out the bottom of the field. Therese Allam finished third with 454 votes, Ronald Richard followed with 257 votes, and Rose Marie Oliviero trailed with 166 votes.

Southampton’s $57.3 million budget for 2010-11 was approved by a 595-499 vote, and all five other propositions on the ballot were approved, 
including one to reduce the term length of School Board members from five years to four beginning in the 2013-14 school year, which was approved by a 846-234 vote. A proposition to purchase six new school buses with money from the district’s bus fleet replacement capital reserve fund passed 661-424. And contracts were approved with Southampton Youth Association Inc. (664-427), the Parrish Art 
Museum (593-475), and the Southampton Historical Society (638-429).


Voters in the Tuckahoe School District approved a $16.5 million budget by a slim margin, 212-193 and elected a new School Board member, Dr. Daniel Crough.

Dr. Crough, an emergency physician at Southampton Hospital, won the single open seat on the three-member board, collecting 242 votes. Michael Hadix finished second with 126 votes, and Daphne Gil finished a distant third with 41 votes.

All three of Tuckahoe’s propositions were also approved by voters. The contract with Southampton Youth Association Inc. was approved, 242-193; the contract with the Parrish Art Museum passed, 241-154; and the contract for the education of secondary-level students in grades nine through 12, and to 
provide transportation for those students to attend 
designated high schools, passed, 267-129.

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why is it that in times of economic down turn, teachers and administrators continue to get their yearly raises and "step" increases in pay> The rest of us have to cut back and tighten our belts, why are our employees getting a deal with no basis in financial reality?
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on May 20, 10 6:38 AM
"I can't have it, why should they!" Sounds a bit childish, doesn't it.
By fcmcmann (417), Hampton Bays on May 20, 10 8:09 AM
With your thinking, teachers should have been getting higher salaries when everyone was making lots of money. It didn't seem to work out that way for them. Now your concerned about what they make. Where were you over the years when district contracts were not settled and they had to wait to get pay raises?
By WHBlocal (3), WHB on May 20, 10 10:34 PM
Excellent point, WHBlocal. Excellent
By fcmcmann (417), Hampton Bays on May 21, 10 9:26 AM
how is it childish to ask that the people who work for us have a pay structure that reflects the economic times we live in?
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on May 20, 10 5:43 PM
See WHBlocal's answer above.
By fcmcmann (417), Hampton Bays on May 21, 10 9:26 AM
Such a shame that living in Sag Harbor, for example, is not unaffordable for the regular folk. Modest homes have ridiculous price tags. Difficult for the average resident to live and work in the community. Teachers all over the United States are facing pay cuts, additional contributions towards health and pension plans, and lay offs. Now we find out that anyone pink slipped is not going to have health coverage after July 1, and won't be called back (if at all) until September. I am out of state. ...more
By rljackso (2), Sag Harbor on May 20, 10 6:41 PM
I meant to say in my first line "affordable" not "unaffordable" See what the stress of this situation is doing to me. ahhhhhhhhhhh
By rljackso (2), Sag Harbor on May 20, 10 6:43 PM