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Oysterponds Board of Education adopts $5.8M budget

The Oysterponds Board of Education approved a $5.8 million budget for the 2019-2020 academic year, district officials said Thursday. 

The unanimously approved budget is an estimated .26% increase compared to last year, Superintendent Richard Malone said. 

The budget complies with the 2% tax cap and is a .98% tax rate increase over last year. For an average home assessed at $6,000, homeowners would see a tax increase of $21.90.

The district has finalized a four-year contract with teachers to predetermine salaries, which represents a bulk of the budget, Mr. Malone said.

“We want to keep teachers updated with new approaches and techniques,” he said, “and follow state mandates.”

Roughly 19% of the budget will pay for tuition at Greenport Union Free School District. For several years, Oysterponds has paid the district to send its seventh through 12th grade students to the school, Mr. Malone said.

Oysterponds voters will see two other propositions on the ballot this year — one would elect three members to the Board of Education and the other would renovate bathrooms in the school. 

The $200,000 renovation project would bring the boys and girls bathrooms up to code with state requirements. Mr. Malone said the bathrooms haven’t been renovated since 1966 when the building was constructed. The project would utilize district funds outside of the Capital Reserve and would not use taxpayer money, he said. If approved, renovations could begin as early as fall 2019. 

Board member Krista de Kerillis plans to retire after her term ends June 30. Incumbents Thomas Stevenson and Dorothy-Dean Thomas, whose terms expire at the end of this school year, will both run again for three-year terms.  

The district also aims to expand the Spanish language program, launched in grades 1-2 earlier this year. The Spanish STEM program, which blends foreign language, English, science and technology, will welcome kindergarten and third grade students beginning next year. 

“Research shows if you really want students to learn language, they have to be introduced to it through something they can use,” Mr. Malone said. “These hands-on activities can be learned in both English and Spanish.”

The budget will also improve technology by distributing at least 25 new iPads for students, improve parking facilities surrounding the campus, and provide the orchestral program to Greenport and Oysterponds students.

A district budget hearing and regular meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, May 7. The annual budget and board vote is Tuesday, May 21. 

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