Three incumbents are running unopposed to continue their work on the Bridgehampton Board of Education.
The three-year terms of President Ron White, Vice President Lillian Tyree-Johnson, and member Douglas DeGroot are set to expire this year, and each one has opted to run again.
The polls will be open for budget and board votes from 2 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, May 19, in the Bridgehampton School gymnasium.
Mr. DeGroot has been a resident of the district for more than 30 years and has spent the last six serving as a member of the board.
He said he’d like to continue serving so that he can still help provide outstanding educational and athletic opportunities for students at the Bridgehampton School.
“Being on the board is a very important thing. It’s partly community service, it’s partly a concern for the local children,” Mr. DeGroot said. “I have a constituency that supports me. I feel qualified to represent them, and … I’ve been successfully elected twice. I think people think of me as someone who is concerned about excessive spending.”
The candidate is most passionate about improving athletics, specifically in having the school host more of its own teams rather than sharing with neighboring schools. Right now, he said, the only two varsity sports the school offers on its own are basketball and cheerleading, but in the last two years, it has sponsored tennis teams for seventh and eighth grade boys and girls. He would like to see similar opportunities in other sports.
Mr. DeGroot runs Hamptons Tennis Company in Southampton with his wife, Kathryn. He has two children attending the Bridgehampton School: Harriet, a junior, and Jonathan, who is in eighth grade.
Mr. DeGroot said he also wants to help the school increase enrollment, as he believes Bridgehampton has “been spreading its wings lately.” He would like to see more students who live in the district attend the school instead of private institutions.
“It’s a tiny, tiny school, but it’s done some great things,” he said. “We’re constantly trying to show the local community that we’re a very viable school and we produce well-educated kids. We’re always saying, ‘How do we make this better? How do we make this more attractive to more kids?’ I think a lot of schools have that issue.”
Like Mr. DeGroot, Ms. Tyree-Johnson is seeking a third term. She has lived in the district for more than two decades with her husband, basketball head coach Carl Johnson.
Because she has no children attending the school, the candidate said she is not personally invested in anything other than ensuring that students are receiving the best educational experiences possible.
“I just feel like I have a good voice. I can see things from a little different perspective,” she said. “I’m very happy with the progress our school has made. I think we have a really good team that’s put together right now. Things are going very well.”
The candidate said she’d like to help the district expand on its successful, newer programs such as Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, or PBIS, and robotics. As for her tenure on the board, she said some of her proudest moments include working to get the district accreditation with the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, and hiring Superintendent Dr. Lois Favre in 2010.
Ms. Tyree-Johnson said that she believes one of the biggest challenges the Bridgehampton School faces is perception, but added that it has improved significantly over the years.
“I think with the work that we have done … the perception of the Bridgehampton School has changed dramatically,” she said. “I think we’re breaking that barrier pretty well in the last few years.”
Ms. Tyree-Johnson is self-employed as a bookkeeper for various businesses throughout the community. She is also the president of the Bridgehampton Community House Association and treasurer of the Bridgehampton Village Improvement Society. Additionally, she serves as a trustee for the school’s Parent Teacher Organization.
A lifelong resident of Bridgehampton, Mr. White is seeking his second term on the board and said his community outreach and willingness to have an open mind when budgeting make him qualified to continue serving.
“We have to be very creative and very open-minded in terms of different ways we can fundraise and ways we can spend the money,” he said. “I think we’ve definitely become very aware of finances and we’re doing a heck of a job in terms of spending our money the way it should be spent.”
Mr. White stressed that the district is going to have to be vigilant with its finances, as the state will continue to add mandates and expenses that are out of the district’s control.
In the last three years he’s spent as board president, Mr. White helped push for more Advanced Placement courses as well as second language classes at the elementary level. Like Ms. Tyree-Johnson, he’s also proud of helping the school earn its Middle States accreditation.
The candidate works as a real estate agent for Douglas Elliman at its Bridgehampton office. He is also an active member of the First Baptist Church in the hamlet. He has two children: Elijah, who is in seventh grade in the district, and Ezra, who is 10 months old. His wife is named Milena.
Mr. White said he wants to help build the Bridgehampton School’s legacy in the years to come.
“I want to be part of the community that continues to get the buzz out about how great the Bridgehampton School is. And how those who are in the district and not going to the school should give their school a shot,” he said.