Local Hamptonites to city slickers: Stay away from our schools!
Doree Lewak | Jul 29, 2020, 6:17 PM
Vanessa Gordon in front of her daughter’s East Hampton school. Edmund J Coppa
Hamptonites are livid about an invasion of well-heeled city slickers stomping all over their kids’ schoolyards.
After reports of Hamptons schools being inundated this fall, with one school in Amagansett expecting to double its enrollment in the new school year, locals are bracing for an influx of pushy city parents and their offspring who aren’t leaving their summer homes when the season ends.
“It’s an arrogance and an entitlement. They’re narcissistic and they just don’t care,” Vanessa Gordon, Sag Harbor mom of two, told The Post. “I’m very concerned about enrollment. If this isn’t handled properly, it’s going to become a disaster.”
Among her concerns? Limited resources, soaring class sizes and greater risk of catching the coronavirus.
“It’s going to cause an uproar,” said the 31-year-old teacher and tutor. “There’s greater chance for COVID spread. The East End is not built to handle this [crowd].”
Ever since the start of the pandemic, there have been reports of class warfare as the super rich fled the city in March and exacerbated food and health-care shortages in the Hamptons. Now, locals say, those transplants are putting undue pressure on already-stressed schools.
“They’re affluent, demanding, difficult parents,” said Gordon, adding that many don’t integrate with locals. “There’s a divide.”
Some wealthy city parents are hoping to save $50,000 in annual tuition by enrolling their kids in what they see as less-demanding public schools — and gain a college-admissions advantage.
“Parents feel the academics will be easier at a public school — and their kid can shine,” said education consultant Chris Rim, who’s usually based in NYC but temporarily moved to Amagansett, as his clients have migrated east.
“Bridgehampton’s high school is zero dollars. If it’s online anyway, why shell out tens of thousands for Horace Mann online?” Rim said, explaining his clients’ reasoning.
Of course, there’s a predictable downside to mixing with the plebes.
“The Hamptons classrooms are going to be way overcrowded,” said Amanda Uhry, founder of Manhattan Private School Advisors.
“A lot of parents say they’re going to enroll their kids in public schools … but then they realize the class size is getting enormous. If you’re looking to escape a virus, this isn’t the way to do it. You don’t run out to the Hamptons where everyone else is enrolling their kids. It defeats the purpose.”
Not surprisingly, private schools in the area are also seeing a spike in enrollment.
East Hampton’s Ross School, where tuition for day students is $45,000, has seen “unprecedented” inquiries, according to administrator Andi O’Hearn. “We saw a huge increase in applications” in the past few months, O’Hearn told The Post, with last month’s applications smashing the 28-year-old school’s record. Elementary school enrollment has ballooned from 57 students last year to 93 and counting today. Meanwhile, there is a waitlist for the school’s nursery program, which may need to add a second section.
“We are running out of [enrollment] space, but we do have the facilities,” said O’Hearn, who’s hopeful there will be in-person learning in the upcoming academic year.
Despite their misgivings, locals are doing their best to deal with the new normal.
“I’m old-fashioned with the way I raise my children,” said Gordon, whose kids are ages 6 and 2. “I say, ‘You have to learn how to deal with people in life. If they give it, you give it right back.’”
And at least one parent argued that it’s the locals who are being snobbish.
“What would give us more of a right than them?” said Brittney Epley, 30, a Southampton native, noting that city folks with second homes pay taxes, too.
Still, when it comes to the class divide, there’s one thing both sides agree on.
As Uhry put it: “We just have to get through 2020 — it’s like a root canal.”
Originally published in the New York Post on Jul 29, 2020.