The Southold Union Free School District will maintain a budget just under $30 million for the 2018-19 school year, administrators said during a presentation last month.
The proposed $29.8 million spending plan represents a 1.22 percent, or $360,000, increase compared to last year and remains under the district’s tax cap.
“Everyone should know that in all 600 school districts in the state of New York, 70 percent of the budget is salaries and benefits,” Superintendent David Gamberg said at the March 14 meeting. “That is the lion’s share of the budget … so the portion that administrators decide on, whether they want to order textbooks or start a new program, is rarely small relatively speaking.”
Administrators gave presentations outlining their specific budgets.
At the elementary level, there will be an increase in literacy textbooks due to the adopting of the Teachers College Reading and Writing Units of Study, principal Ellen O’Neill said. At the secondary level, the budget is expected to increase by 2.29 percent to cover needed equipment, professional development and supplies to meet state mandates, principal William Galati said.
The athletics budget will “significantly” increase next school year due to the addition of a spring track program, as well as adding winter track and fostering an increased participation in boys and girls cross country, athletic director Steven Flanagan said.
The facilities budget will see a $27,000 increase to hire a security guard, and additional increases for the purchase of a new truck with a plow. Other department increases come from the number of special needs students who are educated outside the district and in technology upgrades.
Mr. Gamberg said the district is waiting for the state budget to be passed, which is expected around April 1, before finalizing the budget.
“State lawmakers are still deciding on the state budget, which will impact us possibly in several different ways,” Mr. Gamberg said. “The least of which is the level of state aid funding we can anticipate.”
At the following meeting on March 28, the district announced it expects to spend no more than $800,000 from the repair reserve fund for numerous projects, including repairing parts of the parking lots, floors, ceilings, plumbing, boilers, fencing and lighting and replacing locks throughout the district.
A public hearing was held at the meeting, where Mr. Gamberg outlined each project the money would go toward.
“Typically, it’s categories that are not as large that would require capital expenditures, but are areas we can repair,” he said. “At the end of the day, all the things you’re about to see, if we did not have a repair reserve we would have to find money in the general fund. And that would impact our ability … to remain under the tax cap.”
Work being done using the repair reserves money goes along with improvements that are underway at the schools that are funded through a $9.8 million capital reserve project approved by voters in December 2015, Mr. Gamberg said.
No community members spoke following the presentation, and the board approved the use unanimously. Board member Scott Latham was absent.
Mr. Gamberg explained that unlike a capital reserve fund, the public doesn’t have to vote on using the monies from a repair reserve fund and that projects can begin now that the school board has approved it.
Photo caption: Southold school board president Paulette Ofrias, left, and Superintendent David Gamberg at Wednesday’s meeting. (Credit: Nicole Smith)