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In Springs School Board Race, a New Perspective vs. an Experienced Hand

Wed, 05/15/2024 - 21:28
Dermot Quinn, left, and Barbara Dayton
Courtesy of the candidates

The Springs School District is the only district in East Hampton Town with a contested school board race this year, with two candidates vying for one seat.

They are Dermot Quinn, a business owner and newcomer who has two children attending the school, and Barbara Dayton, the current school board president, whose two children attended Springs before going on to graduate from high school. In interviews this week, they each expressed a similar priority: communication.

“I think constantly focusing on improving communication is really important,” said Ms. Dayton, who is seeking her fourth term on the board. “We should ask, ‘Where’s the flaw? What do we have to revise to make sure the constituents are getting information to have the best possible understanding?’ Communication is at the top of my list.”

Mr. Quinn said he wants people to feel they are being listened to. “I want to let everyone in the community know — not just teachers and parents, but everybody — that there is somebody listening, and that we’re all equally in this together in the Springs community.”

Mr. Quinn immigrated in 1993 to the United States from Ireland, where he had earned a university degree in business and marketing. “But in the last year of it, I realized sitting in an office was not my thing,” he said. He first had an estate-caretaking business and now runs his own landscaping company.

His wife, Margarette Doyle, is a teacher assistant at the Springs School. Mr. Quinn said that watching the issue of the teacher assistants’ mysteriously docked salaries unfold several months ago was what inspired him to run for the school board. He likened the role to being a team player on a team where collaborative skills are a must.

“I can do that. I can work with other people and be open to decisions,” Mr. Quinn said. “I never want to be the smartest person in the room. I don’t think the place for that kind of attitude is a school board. There are a lot of good minds and if we put our minds together and work as one, then we can get a lot done.”

Ms. Dayton’s professional background is in art and design, including advertising and administrative roles within the real estate and nonprofit fields. At present she works for Fighting Chance, a Sag Harbor nonprofit based in Sag Harbor, and the nonprofit Duck Creek Arts Center in Springs. She attended Smith College, which provided her opportunities to study abroad in Bolivia, England, and France, and she speaks Spanish and French proficiently. She is also a musician.

Ms. Dayton said she is seeking another term because she truly enjoys the work of the board. “I feel like it’s a valuable contribution to my community. I’ve had to tackle a lot of really big issues over the last nine years. I’d like to be able to focus more on education than all the things that support an education, like the building, the superintendent and principal searches, Covid — it’s been a lot. I would enjoy being on the board and continuing my work in an environment where all these things are now established.”

Not long after being elected board president, Ms. Dayton established monthly work sessions, on top of the regular business meetings, to address topics that needed in-depth exploration. She said that, in the future, she would like to see Springs share more cost-saving services with surrounding districts.

“I care most about keeping our school on an even keel and moving forward,” she said.

Mr. Quinn has been endorsed by the Springs Teachers Association, the school’s faculty union.

The candidate who gets the most votes will serve a three-year term beginning July 1. Voting is Tuesday from 1 to 9 p.m. in the school library.

 


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