Oysterponds adopts $5.4 million budget; three layoffs still expected

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Oysterponds District Clerk Doug Savino, right, holds out a tambourine containing the names of this year’s school board candidates. East Marion resident James Duggan, left, drew each candidate’s name Tuesday night in the order they will appear on the ballot next month: Linda Goldsmith, Alison Lyne and Krista de Kerillis.

The Oysterponds Board of Education on Tuesday night adopted a $5.4 million budget, which carries an estimated 2.5 percent increase to the tax levy and includes three layoffs.

During its monthly meeting at the elementary school in Orient, the board voted 6-1 to approve the 2012-13 spending plan. Trustee Linda Goldsmith cast the lone dissenting vote.

Ms. Goldsmith said she disagreed with the board’s decision to balance the budget by laying off the school’s only librarian, a special education teacher and a teacher assistant.

Superintendent Joan Frisicano said the reductions are necessary due to dwindling enrollment and believes the budget is fiscally responsible since it decreases spending by nearly $270,000 compared to the current year.

While the budget carries an estimated 2.5 percent increase to the tax levy, the district is allowed to exceed the state’s mandate because certain expenses, such as employee health insurance and pensions, are exempt from the law.

School board president Deborah Dumont said she supports the spending plan because it includes enrichment programs utilizing technology, as well as professional development for teachers and students.

“I believe this budget keeps the school open, vibrant and alive,” Ms. Dumont said.

The Oysterponds elementary school district serves students from kindergarten through sixth grade living in Orient and East Marion. It currently sends its secondary students to neighboring Greenport schools.

Last month, Oysterponds designated both Greenport and Mattituck as as its secondary school districts. The board also agreed to put both contracts up for public referendum once they’ve been finalized. That likely won’t be in time to be included on the May 15 ballot with the budget vote and school board elections, board members said. The vote on the contract — or contracts — will likely take place in the summer.

Pick up Thursday’s Suffolk Times for more from the meeting.

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