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May 22, 2019 10:18 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Budgets Pass, Incumbents Sweep In All East Hampton School Districts, Montauk Library Wins Approval For Expansion

A tie vote between two incumbent School Board members in Amagansett will require a runoff.  MICHAEL WRIGHT
May 22, 2019 11:18 AM

East Hampton Town voters gave the thumbs up to budget proposals in all five of the town’s school district’s on Tuesday night and returned all incumbent school board members seeking reelection to take on new terms.

In Montauk voters also broadly approved a $7.5 million expansion bond for the Montauk Library. The bond, which will fund a 5,000-square-foot expansion of the library building and major renovation of the existing space, passed with 245 “yes” votes and just 81 “no” votes.

“We’re thrilled with the results of today’s vote,” Montauk Library Director Denise DiPaolo said in a statement, “and we’re so grateful for the enthusiasm and support the Montauk community has shown for this much-needed project.”

The Montauk School’s $19,793,316 budget passed, 280-50. Incumbent School Board member Tom Flight received 254 votes, and Nick Finazzo, who was appointed to the board last fall, received 291 votes. Mr. Flight will serve another three-year term and Mr. Finazzo will complete the final two years of former board member Patti Leber’s term.

In East Hampton, former board member Sandra Vorpahl was the top voter-getter in her bid to return to the board, with 346 votes. Incumbent board members J.P. Foster and Wendy Geehring also won reelection to new terms, with 303 and 318 votes respectively. Jeffrey Erickson had 199 votes.

The East Hampton School District’s $70,947,120 budget was approved, 410-56.

In Springs, incumbent board members David Conlon and Amy Rivera both won reelection to new terms. Mr. Conlon was the top voter-getter with 215 votes. Ms. Rivera got 192 votes to take the second seat up for grabs. Challengers Joseph Sullivan and Deborah Goodman got 159 votes and 114, respectively.

“We are going to have a lot of work to do with our capital project,” Ms. Rivera said of the coming three years on the board, which will include the construction of a $23 million expansion. “This board works very well together. No one is afraid to express their true opinion but we can sit in a room and hash things out together.”

“Everyone has a very good rapport with each other,” Mr. Conlon added.

Voters approved the $29,692,160 Springs budget, 272-97, and approved a proposition to spend capital reserves on a new school bus and maintenance vehicle, 278-89.

In tiny Wainscott School District, the $3,324,651 school budget represented a spending decrease, though taxes for voters are projected to go up by more than 18 percent because of the elimination of reserve funds from prior years—it was the only local district to pierce the state tax cap. Voters gave the budget well more than the requisite 60 percent support to allow a district to exceed the state cap, though, with 37 “yes” votes and just 13 “no” votes.

In Amagansett, incumbent Kristen Peterson was the top vote-getter with 168 votes. Two other incumbents, Anna Bernasek and Hank Muchnic, tied, with each garnering 151 votes. A runoff election will be held to determine who will serve a full three-year term and who will complete the last two years of the term vacated by Patrick Bistrian. Candidate Mary Eames received 98 votes and Matthew Feyh received 81.

The district’s $10,913,234 budget was approved, 188-44, and the Amagansett Library’s budget passed, 203-27.

In the Sag Harbor School District, which straddles East Hampton and Southampton towns, voters approved a $42,885,375 budget, 761-347. A proposition to approve the purchase of a 2019 school bus for $103,524 and a 2019 Chevrolet Suburban school bus with 4-wheel-drive, for $74,922, passed 638-463.

Incumbent Chris Tice, the highest vote-getter, was reelected to a fourth term on the board with 674 votes. Yorgos Tsibiridis had 666 votes, earning him a full term, and Brian DeSesa, who had 548 votes, will remain on the board to finish a one-year term he was appointed to in January to fill a vacant seat.

Julian Barrowcliffe received 503 votes, Thomas McErlean received 409, and Caleb Kercheval received 170 votes.

After the results were announced in the Pierson High School gymnasium on Tuesday night, Mr. DeSesa hugged his wife, Kelly, and said, “I’m very happy to continue to serve the School Board. I look forward to working the next year with the board.”

“I very much appreciate the voter confidence from the community,” Ms. Tice said as people congratulated her. “I’m excited and humbled to be able to continue to serve the community and the children and to make sure this is the best school experience possible.”

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