At Monday night’s meeting, the Sag Harbor Board of Education accepted Eric Bramoff’s resignation from his post as the district’s athletic director.
Bramoff will remain with the district, moving into a full-time role as a middle school physical education teacher. That post was left vacant when former teacher Jon Tortorella resigned earlier this year, and Bramoff has been teaching those classes since then, while still serving as AD. But Bramoff said on Tuesday that vacating his post as AD and becoming the permanent middle school phys ed teacher was a move both he and Superintendent Jeff Nichols agreed “made the most sense.”
Bramoff said he enjoys being the AD and teaching phys ed equally, and added he will still serve as co-chair for boys basketball for Section XI. He will also coach both the boys and girls middle school basketball teams at Pierson this winter.
Full-time social studies teacher Don McGovern, who has worked in the district for more than 20 years, will assume the role of athletic director through June 30. He is also the head coach of the East Hampton varsity boys soccer team, which lost in the first round of the Class A playoffs last week.
Nichols commended Bramoff for his service as athletic director, and said that he did the job well in the years he held it.
When Bramoff, a 1996 graduate of Pierson High School, was hired as AD in 2015 he was viewed by many as the perfect fit for the job. He was a standout three-sport athlete during his high school career, leading the Whalers on the soccer field, the basketball court, and the baseball diamond, before he went on to play football and soccer at SUNY Cortland, and then returned to his hometown as a teacher. He left a few years later, returning upstate to take a job in the Syracuse City School District, but ultimately returned to the area once more, starting with a short stint as the athletic director at Bridgehampton before taking the post at his alma mater.
Board of Education Vice President Sandi Kruel also spoke about Bramoff’s commitment to Pierson athletics, and the outsized impact he’s had on students over the years, including her own children, and she called him a “rock star” PE teacher. She said her son Brandon, who is turning 30 this year, still has fond memories of his time having Bramoff as a teacher.
“He said to me, ‘Bramoff was the best PE teacher ever, he was so cool,’” Kruel shared. “I think it’s amazing when teachers can make that kind of mark on a child’s life, where they still remember you being one of their best teachers.”
Board member Alex Kriegsman said that Bramoff had the same effect on his three children as well.
“He’s always there for everything and just has great enthusiasm and has been a great asset for the school,” he added.
Strong Financial Report
School Business Administrator Jennifer Buscemi was at Monday night’s meeting to do an annual update on the district’s reserve funds and report on the balances in those funds. She shared details about each fund, explaining how they differ and what they are used for. She said that the district has done a “great job” building up its reserves over time,and said the unassigned fund balance, available for emergencies — like a pandemic — had grown significantly in recent years. The district’s overall strong financial position led to a credit upgrade in May 2020 from Moody’s which pushed the district’s rating to AA1, just one level below the highest rating of AAA.
The district also came out looking good after a recent external audit. The auditor found no issues with the district’s finances, and added that comments from a prior management letter, regarding recommendations for the district, had been “100 percent corrected,” and there were no new comments, a sign that the district’s finances are in good health, and the management team, led by Buscemi, has done a great job.
Bus Parking Lot Update
In his superintendent’s report, Nichols shared an update on the school bus parking lot for residents who had come to a board meeting earlier in the school year to express their frustration with living so close to the lot.
At that time, the district had said it would look into making some modifications to the lot to mitigate some of the noise and other aesthetic features that the residents had complained about. School officials spoke with village officials about raising the height of the fence that surrounds the lot and putting in additional plantings to create more of a buffer.
The village declined to approve the plantings in front of the fence — which would be on the village’s right of way — but raising the height of the fence is still on the table.
A bid for that work came in just shy of $34,000, Nichols said, an estimate he sent to the board. He recommended, because it is not something previously budgeted for, that they discuss the possibility of including that work and the related expense in the budget planning process that will begin in the winter and go into the spring, a recommendation the board members agreed with.