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Greenport School District faces cuts if state aid fails to match budget shortfall

The Greenport School District is depending on state aid to keep its proposed 2018-19 budget under the tax cap.

The proposed budget is currently at a $325,000 shortfall, Superintendent David Gamberg said.

Depending on what the state provides, the district may be able to put the budget before voters without needing to pierce the tax cap, which is set at 2.62 percent this year. Should Greenport not receive enough state aid, however, the district would either need to make cuts or keep the budget the same and propose piercing the tax cap.

Mr. Gamberg said in an email Friday morning that as of now, the district would consider making cuts to keep the budget under the tax cap if the state aid fails to cover the shortfall. Officials are hoping for more precise figures from the state by April 1.

The total proposed budget is currently just under $19 million.

“Seventy percent of every school budget, give or take a percent, is made up of the salaries and benefits portion of the budget, leaving just 30 percent remainder to deal with in terms of other things,” Mr. Gamberg said.

The proposed 2018-19 budget will preserve the current athletic teams and teaching staff, Mr. Gamberg said during Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting.

One of the most notable additions is that of a full-time security guard, the district’s first. Adding the guard, as well as switching the position of front desk greeter to full-time, is an added cost of $48,000.

Each administrator also gave a mini-presentation to the board on their budget.

Athletic director Chris Golden said monies will go toward purchasing new uniforms and live streaming athletic events. The buildings and grounds budget proposed a 1.7 percent increase for new equipment and higher sewer expenses.

Elementary Principal Joseph Tsaveras said his portion of the budget will not increase and would maintain all current programs and staffing while also extending recess for students, expanding after-school activities, introducing robotics, expanding the yoga and mindfulness curriculum and more.

As a cost savings, some students in the special education program will be tuitioned to Southold School District, Mr. Tsaveras said. Educating them at Greenport costs over $130,000 more than it does to send them to the neighboring district, he said.

At the junior high and high school, AP Capstone will be introduced, cameras will be added for the photography course and the GPOTV facilities will be updated, principal Gary Kalish said.

The district is also looking to purchase new chromebooks, iPads and staff office computers, said Ryan Case, the director of educational technology.

Voters approved to pierce the cap in May 2016 with an 8.52 percent increase. Doing so allowed the district to add teacher positions. Mr. Gamberg noted at the time that the teaching staff had reduced from 63 to 53 teachers, but enrollment had increased that year. The district hopes to keep all of the restorative positions it added two years ago.

“Each administrator has really done a diligent job of trying to put together as responsible a budget as they can,” said Frank Mazzie, district purchasing agent. “It’s very important to us to preserve the programs and staff that we have. And that’s our challenge.”

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