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Story - News

May 18, 2011 12:49 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Seven School District Budgets Get Passing Grades In Western Southampton Town

May 18, 2011 1:27 PM

Voters in all seven school districts in western Southampton Town ventured out in stormy weather on Tuesday to approve their respective school budgets for 2011-12.

In what turned out to be the biggest upset of the night, longtime Westhampton Beach School Board President Aram V. Terchunian—who has served on the board for the past decade—was defeated by first-time candidate George Kast of Westhampton Beach.

Westhampton Beach

Taxpayers in the Westhampton Beach School District approved the proposed $50.4 million 2011-12 budget by a 436 to 233 vote on Tuesday.

“We are very much pleased with the support of community,” said Superintendent Lynn Schwartz on Wednesday morning. “We think this budget will do nicely for our students and faculty and staff, and we thank the community for their very strong support.”

In a stunning upset, newcomer George Kast, who was making his first bid for public office, unseated two-term incumbent and School Board President Aram V. Terchunian for a five-year term on the board by 42 votes. Mr. Kast received 345 votes while Mr. Terchunian received 303 votes in the district’s only contested board race.

When reached on Wednesday, Mr. Terchunian congratulated Mr. Kast on his victory, while also looking back on his 10 years of service on the School Board with pride.

“I had a great 10 years, and worked with a terrific group of people,” Mr. Terchunian said. “I am proud and honored to have served with the board and to have accomplished all that we have during our time.”

After having a night to digest his win, Mr. Kast on Wednesday said that he was thrilled to win office. He also thanked Mr. Terchunian for his years of service on the board.

“I guess this shows that every vote counts,” Mr. Kast said. “It’s going to be a learning process, and I have to get a feel for everything going on, but I want to make sure that we have tools our children need to compete going forward.”

Voters from Westhampton Beach Village and the hamlets of Westhampton and Quiogue also approved the Westhampton Free Library’s nearly $2.47 million operating budget for 2011-12. That proposition passed by a vote of 409 to 256.

Hampton Bays

Taxpayers in Hampton Bays went to the polls to approve the district’s $44.9 million budget by a margin of 370 votes, with 953 voting for the budget and 583 voting against.

“This is a resounding commitment to our schools by our community,” said Superintendent Lars Clemensen shortly after the budget passed on Tuesday night. “In a tough economy like this, it takes a lot for taxpayers to make a decision in support of the budget and I’m extremely grateful for that showing.”

Residents also elected Dorothy Capuano as their new representative to the School Board. Ms. Capuano—who was running unopposed—had served on the district’s Budget Advisory Committee this year, which helped draft the 2011-12 spending plan. She received 1,030 votes and will assume the seat now occupied by longtime board member George Leeman once his term ends in July.

“I’m very excited to be a part of the Hampton Bays School Board,” Ms. Capuano said. “I hope I can bring wonderful things to my term.”

Voters also approved two propositions. Proposition 2, which authorizes the district to repair and upgrade its buildings at a cost of $300,000, passed 1,120 to 514. Proposition 3, which authorizes the creation of a capital reserve fund to replace roofs and heating and cooling systems in the district’s buildings, passed 952 to 555.

East Quogue

Voters in the East Quogue School District approved their $22 million 2011-12 budget by a slim margin of 74 votes on Tuesday, while also reelecting two incumbent School Board members.

The budget passed with 366 residents voting for and 292 voting against the proposed spending plan. East Quogue Elementary School Principal Robert Long said turnout was greater than last year, noting that a steady stream of residents voted throughout the day; the last taxpayer arrived just before polls closed at 9 p.m.

Spirits were high at the Central Avenue school as District Clerk Lenore Rezza tallied the votes on Tuesday night. Mr. Long was on hand to supervise the counting and said that he was thrilled that the budget had passed.

School Board member Patricia Tuzzolo was reelected to the board after receiving 416 votes, and School Board President Mario Cardaci was also reappointed after receiving 396 votes. Challenger Art Solnick, a retired teacher, fell short with 238 votes.

“We had a nice turnout and a steady stream of people,” Mr. Cardaci said. “We have to thank [Business Administrator] Betty Lev for drafting the budget. 
She’s the person behind the pencil.”

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Great news for the students in these towns - congratulations! Here's hoping the schools make every dollar count.
By CoweeDewey (110), East Quogue on May 18, 11 5:17 PM
You mean great news for the teachers and administrators who all got their raises!!! Nothing more for students (maybe even less for them)
By powerwalker (52), Southampton on May 18, 11 9:24 PM
2 members liked this comment
Oh, knock it off. In many school districts teachers and administrators took pay freezes and agreed to increased contributions to health and benefits.
By razza5351 (551), East Hampton on May 19, 11 9:06 AM
That is true in many districts - just NOT these districts.
By EastEnder2 (30), Hampton Bays on May 19, 11 9:57 AM
The teachers and administrators at westhampton did a give back for next year...get your facts right
By sag runner (24), Easthampton on May 19, 11 11:29 AM
the article also includes Hampton Bays & East Quogue. What did they give back? Try reading the FULL article, not just a piece of it, before telling someone else to get their facts right.
By EastEnder2 (30), Hampton Bays on May 19, 11 5:58 PM
1 member liked this comment
Eastender, you made a blanket statement that said, "...great news for the teachers and administrators who all got their raises!!! " Two others have correctly pointed out that that is simply not true. They are correct.
By fcmcmann (417), Hampton Bays on May 19, 11 6:44 PM
Your statement is false. You made it sound like all the districts did not make any concessions. Some districts had their teachers and personnel give back. Get your facts correct.
By 3k (7), easthampton on May 19, 11 9:57 PM
Hampton Bays staff, teachers, and administrators all gave concessions of $200,000 for next year alone, with more in the out years as well.
By BayFish22 (3), East Quogue on May 20, 11 7:02 PM
Lets see did they take a 20percent pay cut and lose their benefits or do they pay 1000.00 dollars amonth for health care like the rest of us. It's nice to be part of the elite at the expense of the general population. Also so they got only a 1percent raise so whern they retire at 55 with a 75k a year pension they will only get 74k . What a scarifice, you must all be so proud of yourselves.
By maxwell (169), speonk on May 19, 11 12:08 PM
1 member liked this comment
What a child you are.
By peoplefirst (787), Southampton on May 23, 11 4:53 PM
1 member liked this comment
"What a child you are."

Coming from someone who engages in relentless ad hominem attacks, name calling, and arguments unburdened by facts.

You live off the largess of others and contribute nothing but hot air, peoplefirst.
By RealityFirst (597), Bridgehampton on May 23, 11 5:02 PM
Nitpicking details notwithstanding, public employees, teachers, cops, etc need to have compensation indexed to the private sector mean in the town. Of course you need to account for business owners who have non w-2 income and the cash economy many avail themselves of may be problematic.
Pensions/retirement - everyone should be responsible for their own. Providing for a few at at expense of the many who are funding their own is just fundamentally unfair. I recomend everyone read up on 'Superannuation", ...more
By smacw (240), New York on May 23, 11 4:25 PM
Why should government employee salaries have any connection to the people in the community who pay the taxes to fund them?

Your suffering is not relevant. Just pay your taxes and shut up.
By RealityFirst (597), Bridgehampton on May 23, 11 5:05 PM
"Just pay your taxes and shut up"? Please explain how that is a positive contribution to the conversation.
By fcmcmann (417), Hampton Bays on May 23, 11 5:10 PM
Most people use this guy John Hancock, or other firms, and save their money FROM their salary, not finance their retirement in addition to it.

Unless of course, you earn your pay on the public dime...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on May 23, 11 5:32 PM
you could have become a teacher no one stopped you do you have a problem with educated people or free choice
By earl of olay (13), hampton bays on May 23, 11 4:30 PM
Should the taxpayers have a choice in who they hire, and how much they can afford to pay them?

Stop pretending teachers salaries are determined by fair negotiations and a free market, they are not.

If your plumber was employed the same way teachers are, fixing a small leak would cost $2,000, and you'd have to contribute $1,800 a year for life toward his retirement.
By RealityFirst (597), Bridgehampton on May 23, 11 4:57 PM
It is always the least educated among us that hate teachers the most. They are also the same folks who blame immigrants for any societal ill for which they cannot blame educators. Perhaps they resent their own stupidity or lack of learning. By the way, plumbers make more than most teachers.
By fcmcmann (417), Hampton Bays on May 23, 11 5:07 PM
Read the Post, read the Independent, read many editorials around the country, and you will find a serious backlash against teachers, and their unions.

They have abused their power, and compensated themselves out of jobs in many cases.

Most people don't hate teachers, just their greedy, self entitled behavior. Look for the backlash to continue for some time.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on May 23, 11 5:26 PM