March 29, 2006

Community Unites Around School

Claudia Kusanovic had no motives for what she did beyond her love for her alma mater.

For a solid week before the March 21 bond referendum floated by the East Hampton School District, she worked the phones tirelessly, drumming up support and urging listeners to vote for the proposal.

Simultaneously, a group of advocates who named themselves SOS — Support Our Schools — did likewise, calling literally every single parent in the district.

It all seemed worthwhile when the votes were tallied 816 yea, 510 nay, to approve the $79 million construction and renovation project. A $90 proposal was soundly defeated last June. More important, 255 more voters turned out, a testimony to the efforts of Kusanovic and SOS.

Kusanovic estimated she had made 300 phone calls. "I'm happy all the work paid off. I was making calls right up until eight that night."

"We're thrilled," echoed Naimy Hackett, one of the founders of SOS. "Everyone deserves a big thank you."

Surprisingly, many members of the community were not aware the vote was taking place despite all the publicity. "A lot of people I called didn't have kids in the school and didn't know what was going on," Kusanovic related. "A lot of the Latino people didn't know."

"We got a sense that by getting out there on a personal level we got information out that hadn't been getting out," Hackett said. "We're very excited."

"I feel relieved and happy," Kusanovic said. "It's for the kids. There are so many kids in the school now, and all they are asking for is basic stuff."

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