A component of a recent bill adopted by the New York State Legislature could help smaller school districts cut costs by allowing them to spread transportation expenses between two districts and share superintendent costs with up to two other districts.
In and , though, it seems like, for the moment, there might only be interest in sharing transportation costs.
Under the new legislation, signed into law in late June, school districts with up to 1,000 students will be permitted to enter into contracts with up to two other districts for a shared superintendent. The bill also allows a district to either partner with another district or enter into a contract to share the cost of transportation.
Both Wainscott and Sagaponack already have part-time superintendents, and Wainscott recently expressed interest in sharing transportation costs. The Sagaponack School Superintendent, Lee Elwood, could not be reached for comment.
Nancy McCaffrey, the president of the Wainscott School Board, said that because Wainscott's superintendent, Stuart Rachlen, Ed.D., is only part time, it would not make sense to share him with other districts.
Regarding transportation, she said it is something that has been discussed quite a bit for the past two years, as tuition to East Hampton School District for fourth to 12th grade students and transportation are the two biggest components of their budget. She noted that the district is responsible for transporting all of its students, both to the Wainscott School and to other schools once they go beyond third grade, the final grade level in Wainscott.
In Bridgehampton, School Board President Nicki Hemby said that while sharing their full-time superintendent, Lois Favre, Ed.D., would be a hardship, the transportation aspect of the bill is also something they've considered for a few years.
“At this point in time I can't imagine getting through a day without Dr. Favre, [much] less sharing her,” she wrote in an e-mail to Patch. “Having a district of our size, our administrative staff wears more than one hat. We do not have the luxury of assistant superintendents, assistant principals, deans, etc. ... When you 'share' a superintendent that person will have the same responsibilities for all districts and you will have to hire more people to take up the slack. More people means more money. It's definitely a Catch-22.”
As far as sharing buses, she noted that it could be useful considering Bridgehampton's shared sports programs, in which students may play for teams at other districts, such as , if that particular sports program is not offered at Bridgehampton.
New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., who drafted two similar measures earlier this year, explained that he had been approached by several districts, who had asked whether measures like these could be implemented.
“With with regard to the transportation aspect, it was something the school districts had contacted me about,” he explained. “I heard from a lot of school districts where buses pass each other going to same place.”
Conversely, the possibility of sharing superintendents among different districts was something that had been mentioned to him at local civic meetings. He noted that he has been informally contacted by some members on various boards of education in recent weeks, though was reluctant to specify which ones. He also noted that, due to employment contracts, it is unlikely any school districts will take advantage of the component for sharing administrative costs for at least a few years.