In the Bridgehampton School District, 69 percent of voters approved a $16.3 million budget plan for the 2018-19 school year. The final vote count on Tuesday was 100-44, with turnout that represented a decrease from last year’s voter count of 176.
The budget carries a year-over-year spending increase of about $1.9 million, or 13.5 percent, and a tax levy increase of 13.72 percent. That figure is higher than the “2 percent tax cap” language that people may be used to hearing, but it is still within state limitations — and thus needed just a simple majority vote to pass — mostly due to an exclusion for schools’ debt on their capital projects. A large part of the budget increase, $988,965, is due to Bridgehampton’s first payment on its upcoming $24.7 million expansion and renovation project.
Other components in the newly-approved budget are $450,490 more for busing, teaching staff and out-of-district tuition for students who have to be placed in programs outside of Bridgehampton. About $150,000 is budgeted for an increase in health insurance costs for employees and retirees and $200,000 is in the budget to hire new faculty members, including a new career readiness and technology teacher and an elementary school guidance counselor.
Superintendent Robert Hauser said he thinks the momentum of new programs and the new construction, such as the new agricultural career-readiness program and the addition of more space and amenities to the school, was what resonated with the voters.
“There’s a lot of positive things happening at Bridgehampton,” he said. “We actually expect a significant increase in enrollment due to McGann-Mercy High School closing and the Lower Ross School moving, and I still think we’re financially conservative. We looked at all the numbers closely, and I think the residents appreciate that.”
School board president Ronald White, who won reelection to the board as an unopposed incumbent candidate with 130 votes, thanked the community for its support.
“It’s just go time,” Mr. White said after the vote Tuesday. “We’re up and moving. The engines are revving. We’re just continuing to move forward. Our job is not done. Our district is blossoming.”
Two other school board candidates, Lillian Tyree-Johnson and Douglas DeGroot, were also incumbents running unopposed to retain their seats on the board. Ms. Tyree-Johnson received 129 votes and Mr. DeGroot received 126 votes. The three trustees all begin their fourth three-year terms on the board.
Six absentee ballots were cast for the budget, including four “yes” votes and two “no” votes, and two write-in votes were received for school board candidates. The names of those candidates were not available as of press time.