Starts With Schools - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1703312

Starts With Schools

If you live in the Sag Harbor School District, I urge you to please vote for newcomers Ron Reed and Helen Roussel for School Board. We desperately need change.

I am sad to say that for the first time in over 40 years of voting, I will vote against the school budget. I am doing this to protest the direction that the school district has been going, its out-of-control spending, and its refusal to address the issues that matter. I urge you to do the same.

Our school is inefficient, expensive and performing under potential for the money spent. Sag Harbor spends an astronomical $41,000 per student every year, compared with $25,000 for New York State, and about $12,000 nationally. We spend like a wealthy private school in Connecticut, but without particularly impressive results.

For a new superintendent, we needed a dynamic, visionary leader with broad experience outside our provincial, ingrown district. The School Board’s uninspired choice meets none of these essential criteria, while locking in a five-year contract costing $265,000 annually, a total package with benefits worth more than $1.5 million. The contract does not define a clear exit for poor performance.

The district does a poor job of defining and measuring success; it is opaque with ill-defined and unmeasurable goals. Most taxpayers do not have a sense of where the money comes from, to what purpose it is spent, how and whether district goals have been rationally set, or whether they are achieved.

The board has done next to nothing to address the inefficiencies of a small, insular school district. Long Island has not only the most racially segregated school districts in the United States but also the smallest (the two are related). The idea of one costly superintendent overseeing 900 students is indefensible.

At best, we should try to merge with neighboring school districts, and at the least seek more shared services and joint educational programs.

The district has failed to address the diverse needs for employment readiness right here on the South Fork. Many of us lobbied for the acquisition of the Stella Maris property with the expectation that it would support vocational education. This option has not even been considered by the School Board.

Sag Harbor has enough resources to be a truly great school district. It is time to shake things up. We must build a forward-thinking, progressive school district that can give our students the tools to build a green economy, a more just society, and a nation more peacefully integrated into the global community.

When I see our district setting goals to achieve such a direction, with efficiency and purpose, I will be glad to once again rally support.

Ken Dorph

Sag Harbor


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