Oysterponds files its defense with state
The Oysterponds School District has filed its defense with the State Education Department for having decided last summer to cut three years off its contract for educating Oysterponds secondary school students in Greenport.
No one from the board would comment on the response except new board president Deborah Dumont, who led the revolt against the extended contract. “Obviously, we stand by our position,” she said.
There will be more filings by both Greenport and Oysterponds before the state board renders its opinion on the legality of the shortened contract, Ms. Dumont said.
Originally a three-year contract expiring in June 2012, it was extended in June by the lame-duck Oysterponds Board of Education to 2014. In August, three Oysterponds board members — elected in May and joining the board in July — reversed the move, voting with one board veteran to lop off the two-year extension and to cut one year off the original three-year contract.
Greenport cried foul and filed a protest in September with the SED. Oysterponds had a deadline of Tuesday, Oct. 5, to file its response.
When they voted to cut back the extended contract in August, Oysterponds board members argued that any contract longer than two years should have required a voter referendum. A referendum was scheduled on a proposed contract but then canceled after then-board president Walter Strohmeyer maintained that lawyers for both the SED and the district agreed no referendum was necessary.
In acting to extend the contract in June, Mr. Strohmeyer said his goal had been to create stability for Greenport so that the district could make better long-range plans that would benefit students.
By rolling back the contract, Ms. Dumont has said she hoped reopening negotiations with Greenport would lead to a better contract with performance benchmarks built into it.