School Districts Hope Budgets Will Fly

Because of the enormous cost of the coronavirus, New York State is warning that unless the federal government reimburses a fair amount, state aid promised to local school districts and municipalities will be less than anticipated.

The budget process was subject to unprecedented changes in procedure because of the lockdown. A few school districts have yet to complete the mandatory step of hosting a public hearing to approve a proposed budget hearing. Once a figure is decided upon, the districts must send a voting package to each eligible voter in the school district that will also include school board candidates and, in some cases, spending propositions. Voters will be asked to fill in their choices and mail them back by June 9 — the districts will pay for postage.

Here is the information available as of press time. In some cases, the school districts haven’t returned phone calls and emails to clarify their numbers further; most district offices are closed.

Amagansett

The Amagansett school board held a budget hearing on June 2; there is a link to the video feed on the district website.

The budget is expected to be set at $11.37 million, which represents a 3.23 percent tax increase. Proposition One will ask voters to approve tuition payments to East Hampton High School for a five-year period, with increases tapped at two percent a year. Proposition Two is asking voters to release $350,000 from a capital fund for a new playground.

Bridgehampton

Bridgehampton hosted a virtual hearing on May 27 to finalize a budget that sits at $19.7 million, an increase of 1.59 percent.

East Hampton

The East Hampton school board was set to formally adopt the budget on June 1 at a board meeting following a virtual public hearing. It calls for a $71.98 million spending package, up 1.46 percent.

The sole proposition on the ballot will ask voters to approve $2.2 million from the existing capital reserve for a commercial cooking lab at the Long Lane High school.

About 15 percent ($14.98 million) of the district’s revenue come from tuition from the feeder districts of Montauk, Amagansett, and Springs.

According to the terms of the proposed tuition contract, the base rate for general education students in grades seven through 12 will be $24,397.

Eastport/South Manor

A $97.11 million package is on the table, a slight .58 percent increase that will raise taxes 0.73 percent.

East Quogue

East Quogue is finalizing a $26.28 million budget, up 1.48 percent from this year. It represents a 1.82 percent increase in the tax levy.

Greenport

The school board finalized its $19.43 million package after a virtual board meeting May 27. The budget represents a 3.77 percent raise over this year’s $19.04 million package.

Hampton Bays

The Hampton Bays school district asks voters to allow a 0.73 percent budget increase to $55.21 million, which will raise taxes 1.62 percent.

Mattituck-Cutchogue

The school’s proposed budget is $40.7 million; the tax levy will rise 1.75 percent if approved. The district is also asking voters to approve a proposition for $1.46 million for assorted building improvements including the roof on the Cutchogue East building.

Montauk

Voters will be asked to approve a $20.87 million spending package, an increase of 7.7 percent that will increase taxes by 1.45 percent.

Quogue

A $9.24 million budget is an increase of 5.51 percent, but taxes will rise only 1.82 percent, within the state cap.

Riverhead

The school board has signed off on a $147.12 million budget, a levy 2.21 percent higher than the current budget of $144.44 million. A proposition to spend $469,470 from an existing reserve account to install a walk-in freezer at Pulaski Street School and other cafeteria improvements is also on the ballot.

Sagaponack

The board was to host a virtual public hearing June 2 and approve a $1.71 million budget to put to formal vote on June 9. The current budget is $1.55 million.

Families will be able to decide whether to send their children, in grades 4 to 12, to the Bridgehampton, East Hampton or Sag Harbor school districts, if voters approve propositions on the ballot. Separate contracts with each of the districts are required by law for primary and secondary schools, so there are two resolutions for five-year contracts with East Hampton and Bridgehampton, while only the one-yearcontract with Sag Harbor for the primary grades in is up this year.

Sag Harbor

The board will ask voters to approve a $44.33 million budget, a 3.37 percent increase over the current $42.89 million budget.

Shelter Island

Voters will decide whether to approve the Board of Education’s proposal to spend $12.15M in support of education in the 2020/21 school year.

The proposal calls for a $215,145 increase in expenses, up 1.8 percent. It anticipates a 2.14 percent tax levy increase, which is below the state cap.

Southampton

There is a $72.86 million budget on the table, up from $71.9 million this current fiscal year. It represents a 1.32 percent hike. Taxes will rise by almost three percent if approved.

The board will ask voters for a number of expenditures outside the budget: HVAC Rooftop replacements a t the high schools; district-wide security access upgrades, and Southampton School ceiling installations for an aggregate cost of $2.5 million. The monies will come from a 2007 capital reserve fund.

The district also wants to spend $416,500 for a recreation program and $245,000 for services from the Southampton History Museum as well as $381,969 for programs from the Parrish Art Museum. Those items will be voted on separately.

A link to the footage of the public hearing held will be provided at the Southampton School District Information Facebook page.

Southold

The district is seeking $30.30 million for its 2020-21 budget, an amount that will increase taxes by 1.18 percent.

Springs School

The board, expecting a significant reduction in state aid, is looking at a $27.03 million package. If that were the case, taxes would go up about 1.63 percent. Voters will be asked to approve a five-year tuition deal with East Hampton district, which provides high school education. That amount will be capped at two percent for the year.

Tuckahoe

The Tuckahoe school board tentatively approved a $22.18 million budget, up 1.64 percent ($509,000) from the current fiscal year budget.

Wainscott

The board of trustees is floating a $3.7 million budget, representing an $379,680 or an 11.42 percent increase.

For the second year in a row, the board is asking voters to approve piercing the tax cap. The board is also proposing a 12.71 percent, or $338,680, increase in the tax levy, which goes over the tax cap by 9.04 percent. A supermajority — 60 percent — is required to pass the budget because the budget pierces the cap.

It is nearly 6 percent less than the amount taxpayers approved piercing the cap last year.

In information sent to voters, the board asked that they keep in mind the school district receives little state aid, unlike the neighboring larger districts, and the budget is funded mainly by the tax levy. The district is no longer relying on using money from its unrestricted fund balance, something that has been repeatedly challenged by the New York State Comptroller as being in violation of law. The district is in the second and last year of rebuilding its fund balance as mandated by a state audit

Westhampton Beach

The school board voiced concerns about the current state aid climate due to the novel coronavirus shutdown. It approved a $58.96 million budget, an increase of 1.62 percent (a tax levy increase of 1.67 percent).

[email protected]

More from Our Sister Sites