East Hampton school district votes and elections this Tuesday

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Residents of East Hampton Town’s five school districts will go to the polls next Tuesday, May 20, to vote on their districts’ operating budgets for the 2008-2009 school year, a variety of propositions and to elect school board members.

Budgets in the five districts are increasing from just over 5 percent to more than 15 percent in the town’s smallest district, Wainscott.

Some districts are also seeking approval for local library budgets and for the expenditure of surplus funds for upgrades or repairs to their school buildings.

Only one district, East Hampton, has a competitive school board race this year, with three candidates running for two open seats. Incumbent board members are unchallenged in the other four districts.

East Hampton

East Hampton School District voters will be looking at a proposed $59.1-million budget with a 7.9 increase in spending when they head to the polls on May 20.

If approved, the budget would carry an estimated 4.5-percent tax rate increase, from $43.55 per $100 of assessed property value to $45.52.

With the use of the “Seneca Falls” formula for calculating tuition for feeder districts this year, district officials are expecting to have tuition revenue increase by more than $2.9 million, or 29 percent, from $10.1 million to $13 million.

Residents will also vote on a ballot initiative that, if approved, would allow the district to spend $643,163 through a state grant to replace windows at the John Marshall Elementary School and East Hampton Middle School.

Three candidates, two incumbents and a challenger, are running for two open seats on the School Board.

John Ryan Sr., 72, a retired math and computers teacher, is running for his seventh term on the board, and said last week that he is hoping to help see through the completion of the district’s $79-million renovation project, which is beginning this year, before he steps down.

Single-term incumbent James Amaden, 38, is a principal of Amaden Gay Agencies Insurance in East Hampton. He said last week that he hopes to see through some of the projects from his first term, including the renovation.

Retired lawyer and two-time Town Board candidate Bill Gardiner, 65, is running for the board for the first time, and said this week that his decision to seek office is “all about the kids.”

Springs

The district administration has proposed a budget increase of 6.4 percent over the current year, to $21.2 million. If approved as proposed, the spending plan would mean a 6.07-percent tax increase for residents of the Springs School district.

In addition to the budget proposal, there are also expected to be two propositions up for vote on Tuesday. One will ask voters to approve a new five-year contract to send matriculating Springs students to East Hampton High School. The contract has not been finalized yet because the two districts are still wrangling over the tuition rate structure to be charged by East Hampton to its feeder schools.

The second proposition would extend the Springs School’s charter to include ninth and 10th grade classes. Superintendent Tom Quinn said that extending the charter would not mean the school would expand to the additional grades but could do so in the future if administrators decided it was necessary. The expanded charter would not apply to the 2008-2009 school year.

Two incumbent school board members, board president Chris Kelley and Tom Talmage, are up for reelection unopposed. Terms on the Springs School Board are five years.

Voting in Springs will be held in the school library from 1 to 8 p.m.

Amagansett

The proposed operating budget for 2008-2009 is $7.44 million, a 5-percent increase over the current budget. If approved, the budget would require an approximately 4.8-percent tax rate increase.

In addition to the budget, the ballot in Amagansett will include two propositions for voter approval. The school is seeking to release $375,000 from the district’s energy and technology capital reserve fund for the purchase and installation of a new boiler for the school building. The second proposition will ask voters to approve $768,902 to support the operating budget of the Amagansett Library for next school year.

Two school board members, Patrick R. Bistrian and Dr. Vincent Vigorita, are seeking reelection to new five-year terms. They are running unopposed.

Voting in Amagansett School District will take place in the school gym from 2 to 8 p.m.

Montauk

The Montauk School District has proposed a $16.2-million operating budget for 2008-2009, a 13.13-percent increase over the current year’s budget. The spending increase would mean an 8.79-percent hike in the tax rate for district residents.

As in Springs, the Montauk District will ask voters to approve a proposal for a five-year contract to send its matriculating eighth-graders to the East Hampton High School.

One Montauk School Board member, Terese Watson, is seeking reelection to the board unopposed.

Voting will be held from 2 to 8 p.m. in the Montauk School gymnasium.

Wainscott

Wainscott School District taxpayers are facing a proposed 16.2-percent budget increase for the 2008-2009 school year, up from $2.66 million to almost $3.1 million.

The tax rate in Wainscott—the lowest of all school districts in town, at $16.18 per $100 of assessed property value—is estimated to go up by 3.5 percent, to $16.75, if the budget is approved.

Since students from Wainscott attend school within their own district from kindergarten to third grade before moving on to the East Hampton School District. Tuition costs are by far the single greatest expense, $1.63 million or more than 50 percent of the proposed budget.

Despite the increase in spending, the district is planning on raising only about $100,000 more in tax revenues than it did last year. District officials have said that they were able to reduce the amount of money to be raised through taxation in part because the construction of their new school, which was completed this year and budgeted at $3.1 million, was more than $300,000 under budget.

Iris Osborn is running unopposed for her fourth term on the board. Ms. Osborn did not return repeated calls for comment.

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