Westhampton resident and Westhampton Beach Board of Education candidate Steve Wisnoski peppered the sitting board at a meeting on Monday night with a series of questions and comments about the state of non-resident students in the district.
Mr. Wisnoski, a former high school history teacher in the district, said he’d heard complaints from parents in the East Moriches School District—one of Westhampton Beach’s five sending districts—that many East Moriches students were choosing Eastport South Manor instead of Westhampton Beach because of its focus on arts and humanities as well as its newer facilities.
“My concern is that we’re not as attractive to our sending districts as we once were,” Mr. Wisnoski said. “From the people I’ve heard from, [the perception of Westhampton Beach] is a lot on the math and technology side and less emphasis on the arts and humanities.”
Superintendent Michael Radday replied by saying the district is strong in both arts and humanities as well as technology, which is why the majority, 60 percent, of East Moriches students choose Westhampton Beach.
School Board member Bryan Dean came to the defense of the school after Mr. Wisnoski said he’d heard it described as appearing “dark and dingy” to prospective students.
“The custodians here do a great job and we just replaced most of the lighting,” Mr. Dean said. “The building is from ’68 and I think we’ve done a great job of keeping it up.”
Mr. Wisnoski then suggested that the board meet more regularly with officials from the sender districts to make sure they are in the loop about changes in the budget. He also suggested providing tuition breaks to cash-strapped sending districts like East Quogue.
Mr. Radday said the district already gives a $500 per student discount to districts like East Quogue, that have an exclusive agreement to send all their students to Westhampton Beach.
Mr. Radday expressed some frustration with Mr. Wisnoski’s line of questioning.
“This is a public meeting, but it’s not a public hearing,” Mr. Radday said. “I don’t feel it’s appropriate for you to interrogate the board members like this.”
“I’m a taxpayer and I have a right to ask questions,” Mr. Wisnoski said.