Bridgehampton School District Will Not Renew Superintendent’s Contract

From left, superintendent Robert Hauser, assistant principal Michael Cox and principal Michael Miller at the Bridgehampton School. file photo

The Bridgehampton School District is parting ways with Superintendent Robert Hauser, who served as the district’s business official for eight years, before being elevated to the superintendent’s position in February 2018 when the former superintendent, Dr. Lois R. Morrow Horgan retired.

The decision to not renew Mr. Hauser’s contract was mutual, according to board President Ronald White. It was announced at the January 27 School Board meeting before the board withdrew into a lengthy executive session to discuss how to proceed.

When it came out of executive session, the board voted to hire the Eastern Suffolk Board of Cooperative Educational Services to undertake a search for a replacement with the goal of having an interim superintendent in place by the time Mr. Hauser’s contract expires on June 30, and he will stay on until that time

Mr. White read a short statement, announcing Mr. Hauser’s departure and expressing the superintendent’s gratitude to the Bridgehampton School community “for the 10-plus years he has been fortunate to be at the district.”

Reached Thursday, Mr. White praised Mr. Hauser’s acumen as a business official but said the district was eager to find a superintendent with more experience on the educational side of the equation.

Now that the district’s $29.4 million renovation project is nearly complete, Mr. White said it was time to start enticing more residents in the community to send their children to the school.

“It’s bittersweet. I really value the relationships I’ve developed over 10 and a half years with students, parents, staff and teachers,” Mr. Hauser said on Friday. “In a small district you can have those personal relations, and that makes it tough to say goodbye.”

On Friday, Mr. Hauser, 57, said he had already accepted a new position with a larger district in Suffolk County, but said he could not provide specifics until the district’s school board announces the hiring.

He said he looked forward to his new position, but pledged to stay on “through the end of June to make sure the building project is 100-percent complete.” The interior portion of the project is expected to be completed by mid-to-late February, he said.

Mr. Hauser said he was proud of the improvements in both the physical plant and the academic standings at Bridgehampton, since he came to the district nearly 11 years ago. “It’s in a very good spot right now, albeit with the obstacles caused by COVID,” he said. “It is a very solid district.”

As to whether the school will be able to expand its enrollment without tuitioning in students from out of district, Mr. Hauser said that remained up in the air. He said that while there were inquiries about the school after it launched an overhaul and expansion of its building, there were few new families that enrolled their children.

“Everyone knows this is an expensive place to live,” he said. “To attract young families with children to the district, there is going to have to be more affordable housing.”

He questioned whether trying to entice wealthier families, who now send their children to private schools, would be “asking them to think outside their mindset.”