Members of the Bridgehampton School community gathered on Friday, June 8, to celebrate what would have been unthinkable 30 years ago — or even a decade ago — a groundbreaking for a new addition. The nearly $25 million expansion plan was approved by taxpayers in 2016 and will double the size of the main building when it is completed in 18 months.
It’s hard to believe now, but in the mid-1980s, support for the school was hard to come by. A 25-year effort by those who supported the school was almost derailed a decade ago when two new members of the school board, who had no previous involvement with the district, reopened old wounds by launching a new effort to have the high school closed. It wasn’t until a six-way race for three open seats on the school board ended with the three candidates who wanted to close the school losing badly that Bridgehampton again began to pick up steam.
Under the leadership of Superintendent Dr. Lois Morrow Horgan, who has since retired, and a school board that was willing to try new things, the Bridgehampton School is seeing its star rise.
Although its enrollment is still tiny when compared to other districts on Long Island that provide education from prekindergarten through high school, Bridgehampton’s physical plant is woefully inadequate.
Classrooms are divided in two; the library is tiny. The gymnasium is undersized and the locker rooms outdated. There is next to no space for music and the arts, and a tiny stage, crowded with exercise equipment, at one end of the gym is pressed into service for plays and other performances. Furthermore, many students and some staff members are housed in aging temporary buildings that have long outlived their usefulness and pose very real security concerns.
The expansion plan will give Bridgehampton an important element of what is needed to educate its students, and it’s possible the new facilities will lure some families to return to the school. More important, a thriving school helps build community. And that’s something Bridgehampton could certainly use.