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May 18, 2011 10:47 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Voters Approve Budgets In Eastern Southampton Town

May 18, 2011 11:04 AM

Following a budget season in which school districts largely tightened their belts and kept spending and tax increases in check, voters throughout Southampton and East Hampton towns approved proposed spending plans in every school district in the region, though sometimes by close margins.

Along with the budget approvals, it was also election night, though there were just two contested board races in the eastern half of the town. In Sag Harbor, Sandi Kruel was elected to the board, along with incumbents Mary Anne Miller and Theresa Samot. In Southampton, Nicholas Palumbo and Amy Pierson won the two open seats, besting four other candidates in races where no incumbents sought reelection.

In budget votes, the biggest nail-biter was in the tiny Tuckahoe Common School District, where voters narrowly approved the $17.1 million budget for the 2011-12 school year by a margin of just eight votes 165-157.

School Board President Robert E. Grisnik, who has overseen the drafting of nearly 30 Tuckahoe School budgets and was running unopposed, was returned to the board for another three-year term, though with just 152 votes, less than half the total number of voters who turned out.

“That happens all the time when there’s uncontested elections—you can go into any election anywhere and you’ll find that people do not vote for a single candidate,” Mr. Grisnik said of the less-than-enthusiastic support on Tuesday night. “I think it’s great that the budget passed. The school district worked very hard on creating a budget that the community could live with, and they came out and supported it.”

Tuckahoe School Board member Dr. Dan Crough said the current economy might have resulted in the tight vote. “It’s been close for the last two years. I think that’s a reflection of the economic times.”

All three of the district’s propositions—authorizing participation in Southampton Youth Services, funding for the Parrish Art Museum’s educational programs, and tuition contracts with the Southampton and Westhampton Beach school districts—were approved.

In Sag Harbor, former School Board member Sandi Kruel was elected back to the board. She will fill the seat of Dan Hartnett, an East Hampton teacher who topped her in the 2005 election, when 12 people were competing for four seats on the board. Incumbent Mary Anne Miller was the top vote-getter, with 1,065 votes, to retain her seat. Fellow incumbent Theresa Samot was second, with 1,053 votes, to also remain on the board. Ms. Kruel received 886 votes, while Annette Bierfriend, a co-president of the district PTA, failed to win a seat on the board with 801 votes.

“I’m very grateful and I’m excited to get back to work,” Ms. Kruel said. “We have a lot of work ahead of us.”

The district’s $33.2 million proposed budget was approved by voters, 917-698. The lone proposition on the ballot, to allow the board to use future funding surpluses to make capital improvements to the district’s two buildings, also passed, 917-557.

In Southampton School District, the two open seats on the board were grabbed by Nicholas Palumbo and Amy Pierson, who each received 423 votes. Natasha Jeffries got 299 votes, Myron Glucksman got 224, Charles Styler got 203, and Edward S. Simioni got 170.

The district’s $58.5 million proposed budget was approved by a nearly 2-to-1 margin, 621-363.

In the Bridgehampton School District, voters easily approved the proposed $10.6 million budget, 136-55, and the Bridgehampton Child Care Center budget, 131-57. Incumbent School Board members Nicki Hemby, with 149 votes, and Elizabeth Kotz, with 133 votes, who were both running unopposed, were reelected. Joe Conti and Joe Berhalter each received 5 write-in votes.

The Sagaponack School’s proposed $1.6 million 2011-12 budget was approved, 49-5. School Board candidate Fred Wilford was reelected to the board with 40 votes. Sagaponack Village Trustee Patrick Guarino received 15 write-in votes.

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The very close vote on the Tuckahoe School budget must serve as a wake up call to all the school officials and tax payers within the school district. The school tax rate of three times the Southampton School Distict tax rate is unsupportable. When we look at school rankings across the State and find that the Tuckahoe School is near the bottom we must ask ourselves what we are paying for and give serious consideration to unifiying the Tuckahoe School District with Southampton School District. Going ...more
By dalsimer (2), Southampton on May 19, 11 7:53 AM
It would be helpful to know if you have a child in the school. To suggest that Tuckahoe is not working would be very difficult to support, especially if you have experience with children in the school. There are numerous dynamics at play and this complex issue, which includes a fractured tax base isn't going to be solved by combining the districts. That change would result in a distinct increase in the Southampton school district's tax rate. In other words, it'll never happen. So best to make ...more
By kaluss (113), Southampton on May 19, 11 8:23 AM
All that would is eliminate are some positions and we can't have that with numbers come power for the teachers union. It's all about the money folks and nothing else. It's about each little school district maintaining its power and bloated salaries and costs. Any time there's a fight about costs it's the students who lose never the teachers and administrators. We need to privatize or combine districts but no one will do that as they would lose their power and autonomy.
By maxwell (169), speonk on May 19, 11 12:13 PM
i would have to disagree with you. the faculty at tuckahoe has endured significant lay-offs and has agreed to a 0% raise this year and negligible increases over the next several. they are doing this while agreeing to a shared long term vision which both changes and increases their roles drastically. the autonomous display of negotiating prowess you describe simply doesn't exist here. a track record of sincere caring, dedication, expertise and fiscal cooperation does. a quick review of the ...more
By kaluss (113), Southampton on May 21, 11 10:59 AM