School Budget Vote and Trustee Election Next Tuesday in Sag Harbor

Historical and current budget data based on information published by the Sag Harbor School District. Graph by Chris Lester

School district voters will head to the polls on Tuesday, May 21, to weigh in on the Sag Harbor School District’s proposed budget and a transportation proposition, and vote for three candidates from a pool of six seeking election. Here’s what’s on the ballot.

Budget proposal: $42,885,375

Increase over current year’s budget: $1,004,479 (2.4 percent)

Tax levy increase: 3 percent

Exceeds tax levy cap? No

Additional proposition:Sag Harbor is requesting authorization to use reserve funds to purchase a large school bus at a maximum cost of $103,524 and a Chevrolet Fleet Suburban, four-wheel drive school bus at a maximum cost of $74,922.

Summary:The Sag Harbor School District could have opted to increase the tax levy by as much as 4.56 percent, but chose 3 percent instead. The final figure is greater than the “2 percent tax cap” phrase people are used to hearing because of factors such as bustling real estate development in the district and exclusions for debt on capital projects. School officials have said the budget proposal preserves current programs and services while adding an additional teacher for “English as a new language” students, additional “interactive technology” at the elementary school, more textbooks and materials for math and computer science classes, and additional fees for the high school International Baccalaureate program. Funding to help launch the Sag Harbor Learning Center is also included, such as money for supplies and for the hiring of a school nurse, security guard and teaching assistant. Additionally, school officials have said the transportation proposition will not increase taxes because the money for the two vehicles has already been set aside in a reserve fund specifically meant for such purchases.

Voting information:7 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the Pierson High School gym

The panel of candidates during the Sag Harbor School Board Meet the Candidates Night event in the Pierson High School auditorium on Tuesday night, 5/7/19. Michael Heller photo

There are six candidates for three seats on the board. Two of the seats carry three-year terms, and one carries a one-year and six-week term that represents the remainder of a term left by a previous school board member’s resignation. The candidates receiving the highest number and second-highest number of votes will earn the three-year terms, while the third highest vote-getter will receive the shorter term.

Yorgos Tsibiridis

Mr. Tsibiridis has served on the school board’s policy committee for three years and was twice interviewed for previous vacancies on the school board. He has two children in the school district, where his family has lived for the last three years. Originally from Greece, Mr. Tsibiridis moved to New York 20 years ago to pursue a Master’s degree in business administration in finance at Columbia University. In addition to his background in business and finance, he works as a real estate broker for Douglas Elliman.

Caleb Kercheval

Mr. Kercheval, who has lived on the East End for 30 years and in Sag Harbor for 20 years, is a past member of the school board’s transportation committee. He has two children in the school district. With past career experience in the information technology field, working with various not-for-profits to support their programming needs, Mr. Kercheval is now a real estate broker with Sotheby’s. He said he has also volunteered at charity events hosted by Hampton Racquet. He has twice interviewed for previous vacancies on the school board.

Chris Tice

Ms. Tice is an incumbent who is finishing up her ninth year on the school board. She is currently a member of the athletics and audit committees, and has received a “board mastery” award from the New York State School Boards Association for the level of training she has completed. A parent of three, she has been a part-time Sag Harbor resident since the 1960s, a Sag Harbor homeowner since 1996 and a full-time resident since 2004, and works as an associate real estate agent for Corcoran in Sag Harbor.

Brian DeSesa

Mr. DeSesa was appointed to the school board in January to fill a vacancy. He is an attorney who is a partner with the Bridgehampton-based Adam Miller Group, specializing in real estate, land use and land use litigation, and playing a management role in the firm as well. Previously, he was an assistant district attorney in Suffolk County. He is also vice chair of the Southampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals. Mr. DeSesa has lived in Sag Harbor for 11 years and has one child who attends the school district’s prekindergarten program.

Thomas McErlean

Mr. McErlean, a lifelong, third-generation Sag Harbor resident, is known to many in the community as “Tom Mac.” He is a parent of five children, including one current Pierson High School student, and grandparent of three. He is a member of the school board’s athletics committee, has been a youth basketball coach and said he volunteers to help Parkinson’s patients with physical activities. Mr. McErlean has owned a landscaping and property management business for the last 36 years. He previously ran for a board seat in 2004 and interviewed for a vacant board seat in 2018.

Julian Barrowcliffe

Mr. Barrowcliffe is a veteran of the international commodities and trading industries, having built and managed businesses for Bankers Trust, Merrill Lynch and Bank of America. He has lived in Sag Harbor for three years and is a parent of three, including one with special needs. Mr. Barrowcliffe graduated with honors from Loughborough University of Technology, a top school in the England, with a degree in business administration and French. He is also on the board of The Blue School, a not-for-profit private school in Manhattan.