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Declining enrollment cited for lower budget total in Mattituck

03/25/2018 6:00 AM |

The Mattituck Board of Education was presented with a $40.7 million budget for the 2018-19 school year at Thursday’s school board meeting.

The tax levy is 0.26 percent, or $93,062, keeping the district under its 0.97 percent allowable tax levy.

The budget, a nearly $49,000 decrease compared to the current 2017-18 budget, accounts for the addition of another security guard — the district’s second — another foreign language teacher, a new district-wide phone system and an upgraded security entrance.

Guests will still need to be buzzed into the buildings, but instead of getting into the schools, they will be in a holding area behind another glass door. The guests then will show their ID to someone sitting at a window, and once they are cleared will be buzzed through the second set of doors into the building, according to Kevin Coffey, the business and operations administrator.

Even with those additions, officials managed to decrease the budget, partly due to decreasing enrollment numbers, leading to a reduction in staff of “12.6 full-time employee positions.”

“When you look at enrollment declines and reducing staff, you look at the impact across all of our buildings,” Superintendent Anne Smith said, adding that the positions vacant due to retirees won’t be replaced. “So it’s not simply that there are fewer teachers, but we look at ways to be more efficient.”

The district is considering shifting the assistant principal position at Cutchogue East Elementary School to a part-time position, as well as reducing the workload of the junior high dean to reduce cost. First and third grade classes will each be reduced from four to three next year. Additionally, the district will eliminate a teacher position in math, special education, Academic Intervention Services (AIS), and English as a New Language teachers, among others.

With the impending closure of Our Lady of Mercy in Cutchogue, the district will no longer need to fund a nurse there as well.

The district is proposing to spend $275,000 for a VOIP phone system and an additional $168,000 for switch replacement for the phone system and other security upgrades, $140,000 on Chromebooks for students and staff and $180,000 to add a TV studio at the high school.

The district is also proposing to add a referendum to the budget to establish a capital reserve fund, which must be approved by voters. The district can put no more than $6 million into the fund, which has to be spent within 10 years of its inception, Mr. Coffey said.

Monies from the capital reserve can be used to pay for repairs, renovations and improvements “too costly to include in the district’s annual budget, at no additional cost to the taxpayers and without potentially increasing the tax levy,” he said.

Each time the district plans to use money from the reserve fund, the voters must also approve the amount in a separate vote.

According to the district’s architect, John Grillo, potential uses include replacing sidewalks and tennis courts at Cutchogue East, upgrading athletic fields, replacing ceilings, walls and roofing at Mattituck High School, fixing walls, flooring and hot water heaters at the administration building and more.

Budget presentations can be found on the district website. The next meeting is scheduled for April 19.

Photo caption: Kevin Coffey, the business and operations administrator, speaks at Thursday night’s meeting. (Credit: Nicole Smith)

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