Bayport-Blue Pt. board grilled about dinner

Dr. Vincent Butera, the newly appointed superintendent of Dr. Vincent Butera, the newly appointed superintendent of schools in the Bayport-Blue Point School District in a group photo. (Oct. 2, 2012) Photo Credit: handout

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Even as the Bayport-Blue Point board of education welcomed its new superintendent, a few residents complained about the cost of the reception.

At a special meeting Tuesday evening, the board appointed Vincent Butera as superintendent, to applause from about 60 attendees. Earlier, about 40 school administrators and board members gathered for dinner at the Blue restaurant in Blue Point to welcome Butera to the district.

Board president James March said the dinner cost $24 per person. The cost to the district was $411, a district spokeswoman said, because Trustee William Milligan paid for a table of 10 and another board member later wrote a check to the district for part of the dinner bill.

"The dinner was an important event that set a positive tone," March said. "I do respect people having an objection to that expenditure, but I feel it was so modest that it was really secondary to the whole purpose of it."

But resident Noel Feustel, who heard about the dinner and confronted the board at the restaurant, said that's too much for the district to spend to dine its new chief. "Fifty cents is too much, basically. They shouldn't be spending any taxpayer money on an affair like this," he said.

"Don't take money that could be spent on the children and spend it on crème brûlée," he said, adding that it has nothing to do with Butera. "We wish the new superintendent all the success in the world and a happy tenure here."

March said buying dinner for a new superintendent is customary and noted that the line item from which the money came -- $2,600 for board of education expenses -- was reduced from $10,000 several years ago.

Butera, who has a doctoral degree from Dowling College, has been assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for Long Beach Public Schools for three years. He helped Long Beach implement the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program and double the district's college-level offerings.

Butera is expected to start Dec. 1 and be paid $218,000 annually.

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