Although increase is 2.53%, Mattituck school board hears calls for deeper cuts

Cutchogue resident MaryAnn Fleischman is mad as hell about rising school taxes, and she’s betting she’s not alone.

Although the Mattituck-Cutchogue School District is proposing its smallest tax increase in 37 years, 2.53 percent, Ms. Fleischman and other community members don’t think those cuts are deep enough.

“People in this community are hurting with the taxes. They can’t afford the increases,” she told the school board during a March 24 budget hearing. “It really comes down to salaries for teachers. People in the community haven’t had raises in two, three or four years.”

The $37.5 million spending plan would add $126 to the average property tax bill, school officials said. It would also eliminate 13 full- and part-time positions.

Ms. Fleischman is forming a group called “Working Poor Taxpayers” to fight the budget increase. She added that 40 teachers in the district earn more than $110,000 as a base salary, with guaranteed pay increases until the next teacher contract is negotiated in 2014.

Marie Domenici of Mattituck shared Ms. Fleischman’s concern. “I want to live in my house until I die,” she said during the hearing, adding that rising taxes are making that unlikely.

“The way things are going I should be dead in three weeks,” she quipped.

Ms. Domenici requested that to cut costs, the school should no longer purchase student athletic uniforms and charge parents for driver education.

School board did not support the uniforms charge and added that the driver education program’s $37,000 costs is already covered by student fees.

The district’s next budget hearing will be held Tuesday, April 5, at 7:30 p.m. at the Mattituck High School library.
On another issue, school officials say there’s no truth to the rumor that the district plans to eliminate the varsity girls’ lacrosse team because only 33 students plan to play this spring.

School athletic director Greggory Wormuth said Monday that the district plans to retain the varsity team despite the low sign-up numbers.

“Lacrosse is a sport that takes a lot of kids for each game,” he said. “But we’re looking to build the program.”

Interest in lacrosse has been steadily increasing in Mattituck over the past decade, but last year was the first year the district fielded a varsity girls’ lacrosse team.

Ideally, the school would like to have at least 20 players on each of the junior varsity and varsity teams.

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