The New Suffolk Board of Education has adopted a nearly $1.3 million budget for next school year, which carries a nearly $25,000 spending increase.
The budget, which the school board adopted during its April 19 meeting, includes a 1.1 percent hike to next year’s tax levy.
School board president Tony Dill said the increase is the highest amount the district could propose without piercing the state-mandated tax levy cap.
“The cap limit is actually about half of the increase and the other half comes from monies, or savings, we were able to roll over from last year,” he said.
Part of the spending increase is due to a hike in tuition prices for its secondary students, he said. Currently, the district sends eight students to Southold High School.
Also included in the budget is a 12 percent spending increase for instructional staff and educational programs. Over the last two years, the district has added numerous new programs and teachers at the elementary school, where 16 students are currently enrolled.
The plan for next year is to “refine what we’ve got and make sure it’s working to the optimum degree,” Mr. Dill said.
He added that when the district factored other costs, such as administration and building operation, total spending is expected to increase by 1.35 percent overall next school year.
The district is expected to spend less on special education costs for the upcoming school year since less students within the district will require those services, he said.
Last school year, the district spent around $120,000 on special education services for its students. Mr. Dill said the board expects to spend about $9,000 less during the 2016-17 school year.
“What people don’t fully appreciate is that special education is not just remedial instruction,” Mr. Dill said. “It can be therapy, psychology and social elements. Those components — the non-teaching aspects — drive where kids have to be educated, and, if it’s outside of a New Suffolk or Southold classroom, it can be extremely expensive.”
Overall, he said the current year has been going well and the school board plans to continue the momentum into next year. In 2014, the district elongated its school days and added foreign language and after school enrichment programs. Last year, the district hired a new full-time teaching assistant, part-time physical education teacher, art teacher and a foreign language teacher.
“We were concerned going into this year because four out of eight teaching positions had new people,” Mr. Dill said. “But the result of their work has been very, very good. It’s been a good year for the kids … We’re looking forward to a good year next year.”