New Suffolk budget features 4.1% tax levy increase

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04/30/2013 8:00 AM |
PAUL SQUIRE FILE PHOTO | The New Suffolk school board adopted next year's spending plan during a special meeting Thursday night.

PAUL SQUIRE FILE PHOTO | The New Suffolk school board adopted next year’s spending plan during a special meeting Thursday night.

The New Suffolk Board of Education adopted school board president Tony Dill’s proposed $965,324 budget Thursday night, which carries an estimated 4.1 percent increase to next year’s tax levy.

During a school board special meeting, Mr. Dill projected a $50,891 expenditure increase compared to the current school year’s budget. His tentative spending plan calls for downsizing the district’s summer program, contracting out for bus service, technology upgrades and some capital improvements.

As a cost-saving move, the district will only offer remedial programs during the summer to students that live in the district full-time. The summer program had been open to second-homeowner families with school-aged children.

In addition to the school’s septic system collapsing this year, the district’s 18-year-old bus died. The school board has agreed to pay for the septic work through the current budget and lease a bus for the remainder of the school year. Next year, Mr. Dill said the district will enter into a third-party agreement with a bus company to provide busing instead of replacing the defunct vehicle.

Other enhancements include security upgrades.

While there are cameras outside the tiny district’s one building on Fourth Street, another camera will be added to the exterior of the main entrance. It currently has a peephole in the door.

The most significant changes slated for the 2013-14 school year is a proposed classroom restructuring plan, Mr. Dill said.

Two New Suffolk teachers have proposed a split curriculum for next year, where students will spend time with each teacher who will focus on a certain subject during the school day.

“It is something that isn’t going to cost us any money,” Mr. Dill said. “It’s not necessarily going to save us any money, but I think it’s going to provide a much richer educational experience for all kids.”

Teachers Sara Campbell (grades 5 and 6) and Nicole Pollina (grades 3 and 4), proposed the idea of having them focus on teaching the subjects that are geared toward their teaching certificates. Ms. Campbell’s higher education work focused on math, science and technology, with her undergraduate degree in physical geography. She has been teaching at New Suffolk for the past four years. Ms. Pollina, who has been teaching there for three years, has a Master of Science in literacy. They are each dual certified in special education.

Students would switch classrooms to spend time with each teacher and would remain grouped by third and fourth grades together, and fifth and sixth grades together.

“The low teacher-student ratio we have here can be maximized to benefit the kids,” Mr. Dill said of the plan.

As for next year’s tax hike, he said the estimated 4.1 percent increase is $1,019 below the state-mandated tax levy cap.

While a state law passed in 2011 caps year-to-year increases in the tax levy — the total amount the district collects from taxpayers — at 2 percent, the district is allowed to exceed the state’s mandate because some expenses such as pensions and capital costs are exempt.

Mr. Dill, who prepares the district’s annual budget, said New Suffolk is allowed to raise the tax levy to 4.15 percent without obtaining 60 percent voter approval. However, Mr. Dill and the school board agreed to present a budget below that amount.

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Scroll down to view the 2013-14 proposed budget.

New Suffolk School District’s 2013-14 proposed budget