We’d like to support a $5.2 million plan championed by the Southampton School Board to purchase a nearby house and convert it into administration offices. But . . . our confidence level isn’t where it needs to be.
Dr. Nicholas Dyno, the superintendent of the Southampton School District and the school board made a point to reach out to the community in the weeks before the vote. The impetus was negative comments from the public that indicated taxpayers would not vote to fund the project.
A Springs expansion plan recently passed voter muster. The district did a good job presenting the proposal, allowed audience participation in the process, and mollified critics.
In contrast, in recent years the Southampton School Board has presided over one embarrassing episode after another, including dismissing rogue administrators who surely deserved to be fired, but who certainly did not deserve the huge cash payouts they received walking out the door.
Board members refused to reveal what happened and, in one case, had to be taken to court by a newspaper to get information that by law should have been revealed willingly. School officials and board members are notorious for freezing out the press and refusing to answer the questions posed by audience members at board meetings.
There are reasons. Sometimes the board champions things so far off the charts that townsfolk are left to openly wonder what motivates the members — like the removal of Columbus Day from the school calendar fiasco and the shared locker room nonsense.
Sometimes the board pushes something it wants, like the unpopular Tuckahoe merger, by stacking meetings, putting out misinformation, and attempting to influence elections.
Dyno complained that letters and advertisements urging voters to reject the district’s expansion plan contained inaccurate information. Welcome to our world, where a school board consistently engages in those tactics.
Putting administrators in cushy new digs does nothing for the kids in need of a good education. What is needed is a new direction, marked by openness and healthy dialogue.