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Southold plans to keep school budget under tax levy cap

David Gamberg

The Southold Union Free School District is preparing a 2016-17 budget that won’t pierce the .69 percent property tax cap next school year, said Superintendent David Gamberg.

“The adopted budget will come in lower than that,” said Mr. Gamberg, who added that a final budget proposal is still in the works. The tax cap, he said, allows for a tax levy increase of just over $175,000.

“It will probably be around .65 or .67 percent,” he said.

Similar to the current budget, next year’s budget totals around $29 million. And while the district’s health insurance contributions will rise 7.5 percent next school year, Mr. Gamberg said the increase is expected to be offset by a decrease in BOCES and retirement payments.

In addition, the district will experience a $40,000 decrease in the Gap Elimination Adjustment, leaving its GEA balance at $95,000. The GEA was created during the 2010-2011 school year as a way to help close the state’s budget deficit.

Other components of Southold’s 2016-17 budget include preserving professional development programs and elementary school textbook budgets.

“We need to invest in people, not programs,” Mr. Gamberg said last week.

At the secondary school level, spending is expected to decrease by 1.32 percent. Although the budget is decreasing overall, Mr. Gamberg said slight increases to support professional development in English, foreign languages, math and social studies are expected.

The equipment budget for SoHo TV, a television production course Southold shares with Greenport High School, and tech and design class has also increased.

Meanwhile, the district’s athletics budget makes room for the addition of a combined boys and girls varsity winter track program with the Mattituck-Cutchogue School District, as well as a summer weight-lifting course. Chromebooks laptops, which are currently used by students in grades four through 11, will also be purchased for 12th-graders.

The district’s 2016-17 facilities budget will decrease by 7.69 percent overall, but a small portion of it will increase by about $25,000 in order to purchase student desks throughout the district and fix windows in the high school’s main office.

Lastly, the district’s budget for tuition for students who participate in programs at other public and charter schools will decrease by 41 percent, as students return to Southold programs due to what Mr. Gamberg perceives as “the ongoing efforts of the district to create new offerings and programs to meet student needs.”

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Photo: Southold School District superintendent David Gamberg. (Credit: Nicole Smith, file)