Gurney's Inn
January 17, 2007

Wainscott School Grades K to 3 For 07/08

Although the Wainscott School District adheres to a "nongraded continuous learning type of environment," aiming curriculum at the rate kids in the school progress, for the purposes of organization, members of the board of education needed to make a choice last Wednesday night.

Superintendent Dominic Annacone asked board members to decide which grades the small district will accommodate. Members could have decided to send kindergarteners out of the district, bringing them back for first through fourth grade, or keep the youngest enrollees and send the older kids out of district. They chose the latter of the two options.

There is no scientific data to support sending the youngest children to a different school, Annacone said, expressing his preference for running Wainscott next year as a K-3 school.

The district is poised to embark on a full-scale facilities re-do. Last week board members tentatively awarded the contract for the construction of a $3.1 million school building. An aggressive timeline would have the 4300 square-foot building completed by next September.

District enrollment is at an all time low, with just eight students currently studying in the tiny school building. At the meeting last week, community resident Laura Menelaws asked why the district would build a new building if it might not have students to fill it in the future. Annacone responded, emphasizing that when district voters approved the project by a vote last May, they said they want to see the district continue to function. He's not sure the state would even allow Wainscott to cease operation.

Recently another small school district, Sagaponack, has begun to solicit out-of-district students on a tuition basis as a means of maintaining a viable school district. Predicting "open tuition warfare," Annacone proposed Wainscott do the same.

Expressing support for a K-3 facility for the next school year, board member David Eagan said that given the constraints of the current facility and the chance that the new school may not be ready to open in September, "it's a non-decision." However, he predicted that the district will need to be flexible in terms of enrollment in the future, especially in the face of the notion of student "poaching."

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