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Apr 7, 2018 1:56 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Ross School To Close Bridgehampton Campus, Will Move Lower School Students To Goodfriend Drive

The Ross School's Lower School campus in Bridgehampton, the former home of the Hampton Day School, will be closed at the end of the school year and all Ross School students will attend classes at the main campus next fall. Kyril Bromley
Apr 10, 2018 4:36 PM

The Ross School will close its Lower School campus in Bridgehampton at the end of the current school year, with plans to move the school’s elementary grades to the main campus on Goodfriend Drive in East Hampton for the 2018-19 school year.

Ross School administrators emailed a letter to parents and faculty on Friday evening, highlighting what they said were the benefits of consolidating all of the school’s grades on one campus. The move would “allow us to leverage our resources and better plan for the long-term sustainability of Ross School,” the letter said.

According to Southampton Town records, the Lower School property, which covers 8.3 acres on Butter Lane, is still owned by the Hampton Day School. Currently assessed by the town at $10.1 million—the school is exempt from property taxes, however—the property started out as the home of the Hampton Day School, then became the Morris Center, which merged with Ross to become the Lower School in 2006.

It is located in a 2-acre residential zone and could be redeveloped according to its underlying zoning, although Dennis Finnerty, chairman of the Southampton Town Planning Board, noted that it also could be used for educational, religious or nonprofit purposes based on its current use as a school.

Parents of students at the Lower School said there was “no hint” of the pending closure. Several parents offered reaction but all spoke only on condition of anonymity, worried that speaking publicly about the private school could jeopardize their students’ futures there, including scholarships.

One parent, a Bridgehampton resident, said that while the possibility of closing the Lower Campus has been a rumor among parents for as long as five years, the announcement still came as a surprise. The parent also noted that there has been “constant change” at the Lower School in the last two to three years, from classes dropped from the school curriculum to a revolving door of faculty members.

“It’s just strange that the school direction could change so quickly without any input from the parents,” the parent said. “I know a lot of parents who aren’t exactly happy with the constant change.”

A parent also pointed out that consolidating the grades at the Ross School’s Goodfriend Drive campus will create a new challenge for parents who live in Southampton, who would now have to drive their children to East Hampton. That parent also noted concerns about integrating younger and older kids on one campus: “Last time I checked, junior high kids don’t want to be seen with fifth graders.”

School administrators did not return numerous calls this week seeking comment about the plans for the Bridgehampton property, which has provided education to elementary students for more than a decade.

The head of the Lower School and the Middle School, Jeanette Tyndall, will host orientation tours for parents at the Goodfriend Drive campus next week, according to the letter, a copy of which was shared with The Press by a parent, who asked not to be named.

The letter—signed by Ms. Tyndall, and also by Andi O’Hearn, chief of student advancement, and Bill O’Hearn, head of the high school grades at the Ross School—called the move “the next exciting phase of our history as we fully embrace the original intent of our visionary founder Courtney Ross to be ‘one school.’”

Among the advantages offered by the consolidation, the administrators said, were allowing students from pre-nursery levels to grade 12 to be taught on one campus, giving students of all ages a chance to interact. In the past, busing younger students to the Upper Campus was logistically difficult, they said, adding, “These opportunities for our students of all ages to interact and work together more often only help enhance our goals to raise global citizens who can appreciate other cultures with different sets of values and cultural beliefs.”

The move also will allow parents with children in various grades a single campus to pick up and drop off students, they said, and a single campus “will allow us to leverage our resources and better plan for the long-term sustainability of Ross School.”

The letter noted that the Early Childhood program—pre-nursery, nursery and prekindergarten students—will be located in the downstairs area of the Tennis Center at the Goodfriend Drive campus, while kindergarten through sixth grade students will be combined with Middle School students in Building 4 on the campus.

Founded in 1991 by Courtney and Steven J. Ross, the Ross School has an enrollment of 420 students, according to its website. The school expanded from three students to a middle school within five years, then continued expanding over the years, adding the Lower School campus in Bridgehampton in 2006.

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...."the Early Childhood program (pre-nursery, nursery, and pre-kindergarten) will enjoy the large downstairs area of the Tennis Center".....

Yeah. I'm pretty sure that is a windowless basement. Not sure what there is to "enjoy" about that.
By GlassHouses (62), anywhere on Apr 10, 18 2:58 PM