Proposal to Teach Spanish in Early Grades in Bridgehampton


By Tessa Raebeck

In its last meeting before the school year begins, the Bridgehampton Board of Education on August 27 floated ideas of how to align Bridgehampton School programs, curriculum and policies with the requirements of 2014.

Citing the large Spanish speaking population in both the Bridgehampton community and the country as a whole, new board member Jeffrey Mansfield floated the concept of an elementary-level Spanish class, saying a parent had come to him with the idea.

He suggested that, if there was enough interest among the school’s youngest students and a teacher available, the class could meet “maybe once a week” and students who attended “would pay a stipend and would pay for the instruction.”

Mr. Mansfield offered to, “with the board’s blessing,” move forward with Superintendent/Principal Dr. Lois Favre’s help to look into whether it is a viable option.

“I guess all parents feel that way,” said board member Douglas DeGroot, adding the school had tried a Spanish class for younger students in the past. “It’s like, we know you learn languages easier when you’re younger, why are we waiting till seventh grade to teach languages when it’s harder? You should do it when you’re younger.”

He said when the issue was brought up by parents several years ago, a handful of foreign language teachers volunteered to teach during their off periods. The school currently has one French teacher and one Spanish teacher.

Dr. Favre suggested using an enrichment period for the class, so that students would have six straight weeks of Spanish during the school year before moving onto a different subject.

“We have that period in the schedule…and I have teachers,” said Dr. Favre. “We could make it happen, absolutely.”

Also at last week’s meeting, School Business Administrator Robert Hauser told the board, “Today, we actually had to borrow $3.9 million.”

In a typical move for a school district this time of year, the school took out a Tax Anticipation Note, or TAN. The district borrowed funds with the intent of returning them after residents pay their tax bills. Typically, residents pay half of their tax bill in December or January and the second half in May or June.

“When they make that second half payment in May and June, that’s when we pay back the TAN,” Mr. Hauser said. “We actually were pretty successful; because of our good credit rating, we were able to borrow this money at .36, so less than a percent.”

The Bridgehampton School District’s Moody’s rating is AA.

The school also announced new software that allows parents to see the last 30 days of their child’s in-school purchasing activity, “the dollars and the last items they purchased” on the district website, Mr. Hauser said.

The board granted Mary Anne Jules, the district’s recently retired athletic director and physical education teacher, $62,330.80 from the reserve fund for compensated absences due to unused sick days as required by her contract.

“We don’t spend big money lightly, she was due that money and we’re paying it to her,” explained Mr. DeGroot.