Oysterponds School District

Oysterponds school board adopts budget with .48% tax levy increase

The Oysterponds School District is proposing a spending increase of $24,373 — or .43 percent — in its 2017-18 school budget.

The district plans to raise the tax levy by .48 percent to stay under the tax cap. That translates to an increase of 18 cents per $100 of assessed value. An average home assessed at $6,000 would have an estimated increase of $10.82, according to a district budget brochure.

The 2017-18 budget, totaling $5,704,425, doesn’t include any teacher increases or new programs, Superintendent Richard Malone said, but rather expands on what the district already has in place.

“We’re building up our pre-K program,” he said, adding that a steady increase in enrollment has prompted the district to teach 3- and 4-year-olds together for the first time next school year.

“[The increase] is also for a general upgrading of technology and also providing the enrichment of the school, individual enrichment in students and increased enrichment experiences away from school,” Mr. Malone said.

Those outside enrichment experiences include workshops, field trips, guest speakers and the continuation of the Reach for the Stars program.

Adopted by the Board of Education at its April 18 meeting, the budget allows the district to continue narrative report cards, a program introduced during this calendar year.

Instead of a typical report card, which assigns students number or letter grades, teachers in the pre-K to sixth-grade district write an overview for each subject area with annotations detailing the individual student’s strengths and weaknesses in that field, Mr. Malone said.

He said the administration looked back at capital and instructional projects completed over the past five years — including replacing the roof and all windows, upgrading technology infrastructure, reorganizing the classrooms and curriculum, introducing the pre-K program and creating a capital reserve fund — as well as projects that are feasible to complete over the next five years in order to determine the upcoming school year’s budgetary increase.

Future projects include upgrades for the heating system, existing playground, parking lot and driveway; a new pre-K playground; and continued improvement and streamlining of IT infrastructure.

“I think the school is in great shape,” Mr. Malone said. “We’ve done a lot of taking care of the building over the past few years … we looked back and we’ve looked ahead projecting the next five years with as much info as we have available.”

The district compiled a budget brochure that breaks down the proposed spending, which it expects to send to district residents at the end of this week or early next week.

A budget hearing will take place at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 2, in the district’s all-purpose room, immediately followed by a Board of Education meeting. The budget vote is from 2 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, May 16, in the same room.

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