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Sep 14, 2018 7:25 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Voters Approve Additional $4.7 Million For Bridgehampton School Expansion

Bridgehampton District Clerk Tammy Cavanaugh, left, and Elizabeth Kotz counting the votes for an additional $4.7 million for the Bridgehampton School's expansion. JON WINKLER
Sep 18, 2018 1:33 PM

Residents of the Bridgehampton School District approved an additional $4.7 million for the school’s delayed expansion project in a vote on Thursday night, September 13.

The final vote tally came in at 132-98, along with seven absentee ballots, which were broken down into five votes in favor, one vote against and one vote voided.

The 237 total votes cast last week actually were fewer than the 302 votes cast for the project’s original budget of $24.7 million on December 13, 2016.

The need for $4.7 million more became clear this summer when initial bids came in over budget due to higher labor and construction costs, according to district officials.

“The little engine that could just did,” Superintendent Robert Hauser said after the voting results were announced. “I’ve been here nine years, and almost every vote has been successful, so this is great.”

Mr. Hauser went on to say that the next step would be for the project to go out to bid again within the next two weeks, with bids to be opened within another two weeks afterward. By October 15, Mr. Hauser said, he and the Bridgehampton School Board would award the bids in the hopes of breaking ground on the expansion by November 15, before winter weather starts. Work now is anticipated to be completed by December 2020.

This vote came a week after the school hosted a community forum where district residents had a chance to voice concerns about the additional funding required and the expansion itself.

“I thought we planned it in a way that it answered all questions and satisfied all concerns that the residents and the community had,” Mr. Hauser said of the forum. “I think we all left that forum at the end of the night pretty comfortable that the reasons why [the higher costs] happened were legitimate and out of our control.”

In attendance at both last week’s forum and the vote count was Ronald White, president of the School Board, who had said at last week’s forum that he felt programs at the school were suffering because of the shortage of space in the building.

“There should be Little League basketball here right now,” Mr. White said the night of the vote. “It had to be canceled, because we’re here right now,” he said, referring to the gym space needed for the vote. “We’re compromised right here—and this happens continuously on a weekly basis. Every day it’s a struggle.”

Mr. White said that once the expansion is complete, there will be more classroom space to hold more Advanced Placement classes and more electives that offer different studies for students to explore.

“When you have your computer lab in one area, your sciences in another area, your mathematics in another area, and your foreign language in another area, everyone is spread out and you’re able to continue to build on to any of those things,” Mr. White said.

“We have an array of new construction and homes that are being transferred over. People are selling and buying in Bridgehampton. When people are coming out here for year-round residency, we want to be one of the schools on the list to consider because we have all of these opportunities.”

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