BOE approves $10.4 million budget request

JULIE LANE PHOTO | Superintendent Michael Hynes outlined his final $10.47 million budget proposal to the Board of Education last week before members gave it a unanimous thumbs up.

Superintendent Michael Hynes outlined his final $10.47 million budget proposal to the Board of Education last week before members gave it a unanimous thumbs up.

The Shelter Island Board of Education unanimously endorsed a $10.47 million budget request for the 2014-15 school year.

The budget stays within the state-imposed tax cap, raising the tax levy by 1.7 percent.

The BOE’s action on April 23 puts the budget’s fate in the hands of voters who will go to the polls on May 20 to have the final say on the proposal.

The budget request not only would preserve current school programs, but allow for expansion in staff and programs, including a pre-school offering to complement the work of the existing Shelter Island Pre School. The district’sproposed pre-school is aimed at 4-year-olds, while the Shelter Island Pre School, not associated with the district,  takes younger children.

The spending increase from the existing budget of $10.47 million represents $425,064 or 4.23 percent more than is in the current year’s budget.

Added New York State aid — from $601,730 to $679,222 — accounts for the district’s ability to raise spending without piercing the tax cap, Superintendent Michael Hynes said. That includes $60,000 Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. secured for the district, $10,000 more than he was able to get for Shelter Island last year.

The Board appointed Vice President Thomas Graffagnino to chair the annual meeting and budget vote on May 20. A formal public hearing on the budget is set for May 12 at 6 p.m.  to be followed by the Board’s regular monthly meeting. The budget will be available to the public on the school website and at the district office on May 5.

New spending will include:
• A new elementary school teacher, enabling separate kindergarten and first grade classes in the fall when the student population at those levels is expected to be larger than it is this year.
• A foreign language teacher to instruct kindergarten through fifth grade students one period per week in Greek, Latin and Spanish. Greek and Latin are new to the curriculum. Each of the three languages will be taught for one-third of the school year.
• Increased hours for the social worker bringing the job to the equivalent of three and a half days a week. Social Worker Jennifer Olsen has been working five days a week, but not full days, in order to stay within the allotted time. That will continue, with some expanded time each day.
• A part-time English-as-a-second-language teacher.
• The appointment of a dean and director of physical education, who will coordinate the physical education and sports programs and function as an attendance officer, transportation coordinator and assume some aspects of human resources management.
• Implementation of a field trip policy that will start with a team building program for sixth graders at Frost Valley YMCA in the Catskills.
• Restoration of a cross country varsity program for boys and girls.
• Creation of a debate team with a team advisor.
• Launching of a school store for supplies.
• Purchase of a new truck to replace one from 1998 and a new scoreboard to replace a broken one in the gymnasium.

In other business, Dr. Hynes told the BOE he has a proposal from McClave Engineering for work on the school heating system and is awaiting a proposal from performance contractor Johnson Controls on the same project. He expects to have that in hand next week and then will meet with building and grounds committee members who will study the two proposals and make a recommendation to the Board on how to proceed. The work is not expected to get under way until the summer of 2015.

The district renewed its agreement with the American Red Cross to serve as an emergency shelter and arrangements will be made to train staff to operate the shelter in the event of a disaster.

The Board accepted contributions from the Shelter Island Educational Foundation to defray the costs of a May 22 Broadway field trip and $1,700 for the guidance department’s college trip; and from various donors, $2,072 for the edible school garden.