Beginning September 3, the East Hampton School Board will have a much larger audience—LTV, East Hampton’s local cable TV channel and public access provider, will record each School Board meeting free of charge.
Each year, East Hampton Town gets money from Cablevision to allocate to LTV. New School Board member J.P. Foster has advocated for airing the meetings on television since he started campaigning for his seat this spring.
While the board said it is generally pleased with the idea of reaching more households, members are adamant that Spanish subtitles must be provided. Doing so would ensure that Spanish-speaking families are not denied access to the meetings because of a language barrier, they said.
Adding subtitles would cost the district, however, because LTV would have to send tapes out to a third party to translate and create closed captions, according to Seth Redlus, LTV’s executive director. He mentioned two options: a one-day turnaround for a single meeting with Spanish subtitles would cost approximately $300, and a five-day turnaround for a single meeting could cost $60 to $70. Mr. Redlus said he would speak with a few providers to get more accurate numbers.
School Board President Patricia Hope mentioned at the board’s August 6 meeting that the district could look into possible grants for transcription through the Eastern Suffolk Board of Cooperative Educational Services.
Until then, the board wants to go full steam ahead with airing its meetings. According to Mr. Redlus, they will not be broadcast live, at least for now, because the school is not set up accordingly. However, it is something that could be looked into for the future.
Board member Jackie Lowey said the goal is to post each meeting on the district’s website as well so that meetings are even more accessible.
“This means I have to wear a tie at every meeting,” quipped board member Rich Wilson.
Board members went back and forth at the meeting about a new draft policy concerning school buildings and grounds use—who can use school grounds, and how to address the issue of organized sporting groups using the school’s fields without permission.
The policy is still in the works, but board members agreed it would be best to give student groups dibs on space and limit accessibility for adult groups.
According to Mr. Foster, when organized sporting groups use the high school’s athletic fields on the weekends, they get torn up, “which is money,” he said.
Ms. Hope and other board members wondered if putting up signs to deter unauthorized field use would actually work. Similar signs at the John Marshall Elementary School warn that the field is intended for school use and gives a number to call for permission to use it.
After the policy committee tweaks and simplifies the draft, it will be back before the board next month for another reading.
According to School Superintendent Rich Burns, two more depositions need to be completed before the district can move forward in a lawsuit against Southampton-based Sandpebble Builders.
The construction company, which is owned by Victor Canseco, sued the school district for $3.75 million in 2006, claiming that it was illegally terminated when the district hired another construction manager as it embarked upon an $80 million, three-school construction project. Sandpebble was countersued by the school district in 2007.
Mr. Burns said that there is game plan that the district has with its law firm, Pinks, Arbeit and Nemeth of Hauppauge, which charges $375 per hour.
“There are two more outstanding depositions,” Mr. Burns said. “As soon as those are completed, we’re going to be ready for the next recommendation from our counsel. I don’t want to go into specifics, because it’s not proper in terms of the litigation, but we have a definite strategy we’re moving forward with.”