RiverheadLOCAL file photo

Superintendent Nancy Carney made the second of the district’s budget presentations at last night’s school board meeting. This presentation focused on school district facilities.

Carney reminded the board and the audience that the tax cap levy this year is less than half of one percent, meaning the 2016-2017 tax levy may increase no more than $483,928 over this year’s tax levy. The tax levy cap is set by state law as the lesser of the consumer price index increase or 2 percent. That has made budgeting “really a struggle for many districts.” Carney said that in discussions with state legislators she’s learned that tax levy caps near 0 percent was really never something legislators anticipated.

The district is anticipating that state aid increases will alleviate some of the burden of the onerous cap, but as of this time the district has not been notified of the exact amount of aid to expect. Faculty and staff retirements along with the allocation of some reserve funds will help the district to comply with the cap without cutting programs, she said.

The facilities budget shows and overall increase of 1.29 percent amounting to an increase of $98,142 over the current year’s budget. The increase is largely reflected in a need to replace outdated and broken equipment, particularly in the area of snow removal and grounds maintenance equipment.

Largely due to an increase in security to cover larger buildings and a continued focus on the security of students, the security budget is marked for an increase of 5.70 percent, or $63,524.

The budget plans for a 2 percent increase in the transportation department budget over the current year, an increase of $123,885. Despite decreases in equipment and service contracts, the increase is largely attributable to additional students requiring transportation, arrangements that cannot be accommodated with district resources. In these circumstances the districts uses BOCES to provide the services.

Facing continued enrollment increases, the district assessed a need for additional instruction. The greatest needs were found to be in the areas of English as a new language and special education.

The proposed additions to the instructional program include
• 2.5 ESL teachers, location to be determined
• .4 art teachers, middle and high school
• Technology teacher, Pulaski
• Science teacher, Pulaski
• Math academic intervention services teacher, elementary schools
• Reading teacher, elementary schools

The additional cost for the teacher increases amounts to $430,139. Also, the curriculum and text book updates amount to an increase of $678,405.

The budget reflects an increase in curriculum, instructional administration and state mandated testing of 2.19 percent, which translates to an increase of $101,037 over the current year’s budget.

The general classroom, teaching, instruction and support budget reflects an increase of 2.49 percent, an increase of $1,033,426. The significant increase is due to overall increases in salaries, equipment, Riverhead Charter School tuition, textbooks, BOCES Services, and materials and supplies.

The overall budget presented to date includes an increase of 3.41 percent which equals an increase of $3,379,107 over the 2015-2016 school budget.

The full presentation will be available on the district’s website.

The superintendent’s future budget presentations are as follows:

• March 22: special education, PPS, guidance, and other instructional items
• April 13: revenues and projected tax levy and Board of Education adoption of proposed budget
• May 10: public hearing on proposed budget
• May 17: budget vote from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. at local polling locations

2016-2017 calendar approved

The Board of Education approved next year’s school calendar which, unlike the current year, has three snow days built in.

Those days, if not used, would mean that school would be closed on Monday, Apr. 17, Friday, May 26 and Tuesday, May 30. Should the district be forced to close for snow days, those days would be made up in the following order: Apr. 17, May 26, May 30, Feb. 24 and Feb. 23. The abbreviated calendar will be available on the district’s website.

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Dawn is a graphic artist, designer and editorial assistant with many years of newsroom experience. A mother of four, Dawn is a Girl Scout leader and a longtime Riverhead resident. Email Dawn