Oysterponds school board to adopt supe’s proposed $5.35 million budget

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | The Oysterponds school board is expected to adopt Superintendent Richard Malone’s proposed $5.35 million budget.

The Oysterponds Board of Education is expected to adopt Superintendent Richard Malone’s tentative $5.35 million spending plan at tonight’s 7:30 p.m. school board meeting.

Since February, Mr. Malone and the school board have held several budget workshops to discuss his proposed 2013-14 spending plan for the pre-K through sixth-grade district that serves both the East Marion and Orient communities.

Due to the district’s dwindling enrollment, Mr. Malone has said he’s recommending combining first and second grades; third and fourth grades; and fifth and sixth grades.

In addition to discussing combining grades, Mr. Malone has talked about the school’s finances. Over half the district’s current $5.3 spending plan is allocated to benefits and teacher and staff salaries, he said, adding about 34 percent pays for secondary school tuition at Greenport. The remaining 15 percent supports the district’s programs, transportation, building maintenance, equipment and supplies.

Oysterponds has been in negotiations with its teachers union to replace the contract that expired June 30, 2011. Since the district and the union have reached an impasse, the matter is being mediated through the state’s Public Employment Relations Board.

The district has also been ironing out a five-year tuition deal with Greenport. School board president Dorothy-Dean Thomas said in February that even though the districts are close to finalizing an agreement, tuition will follow the Seneca Falls rate and, most likely, will do the same for the 2013-14 term. The Seneca Falls rate is a state formula that establishes the highest tuition rate a district can charge nonresident students. Last school year, Oysterponds paid about $14,000 per student and nearly $64,000 per special education student.

The school board is also expected to approve tonight principal Françoise Wittenburg’s resignation effective June, 30, 2013.

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Oysterponds school board meeting agenda, April 16, 2013