Budget talks continue

Board member Linda Eklund, here at the March 3 workshop, said at a prior meeting that the school should consider buying “a vehicle that’s a little more realistic for the uses that we have here.”

The School Board continues its budget talks as it tries to pindown the bottom line for the 2010-2011 school year. Some of thebudget changes discussed in the February 4 and 23 and March 3workshops are explained below. The budget is a work in progress,says board president Rebecca Mundy, and all figures are subject tochange.


The greatest increase discussed at the February 23 workshop wasfor facility operations (including custodian salaries, electricityand fuel, among other items), which rose from $467,718 to $493,523,a 5.5-percent increase. The bulk of this jump is a result ofincreased contractual expenses ($8,000, most of which is for astate-mandated asbestos test and building condition survey) and anew truck (estimated at just over $11,000 per year for fouryears).

The current 1995 Ford F150 truck has become unreliable, saidBusiness Leader Sam Schneider. This truck is used for all thedistrict’s vehicular needs other than driver’s education. He andMaintenance Chief Jim Rogers proposed purchasing a Ford F450 at anestimated four-year payment option of $11,282 per year.

“We drive an average of about 3,700 miles a year, observed boardmember Linda Eklund. “This F450 has the load weight of 5,800pounds, towing of 16,000 pounds. I think that this is such overkillfor what this school uses. Mr. Schneider responded, “It gives usmore flexibility in the future. He said the purchase could allowthe school to plow its own snow, and Mr. Rogers said it would allowthe school to buy its own mulch, sand and dirt in bulk instead ofpaying to have it transported to the school, and more easilytransport other items such as plantings.

“To spend this kind of money on what might happen in the future,that maybe we don’t really need, I just have a hard time with that,said Ms. Eklund. Board member Ken Lewis Jr. commented, “I don’tthink it’s unrealistic to think about these things. I’d like toplow our own snow.

Mr. Schneider said he would compile some comparison figures forthe board to explore whether a cheaper truck would be acost-effective option.


The facility maintenance line is slated to decrease from$167,619 to $145,100, a 13.43-percent drop. The largest part ofthat decrease is due to a drop of $18,000 in the contractualexpenses line. While there are many projects school administratorswould like to complete, Mr. Schneider said, the only ones includedin this year’s budget are the “must-dos: repairs of auditoriumseats, a gymnasium exit door and the concrete blocks outside theschool lobby, installation of a wind-screen for the handicappeddoor to prevent it from breaking, and plumbing and septicrepairs.


The cost of special education, discussed at the March 3workshop, will decrease from $1,049,934 to $1,011,346, a3.7-percent drop. Changes in the special education lines are drivenalmost exclusively by student need, according to Mr. Schneider.

Donna Guiffre, assistant superintendent, also explained theBOCES occupational educational program, which provides studentswith technical training in a variety of fields. Ms. Guiffredescribed a potential addition to the program, Suffolk Aviation,which would provide students with training in aspects of theaviation industry. The inclusion of this program would increase theoccupational education line by about $47,000, including tuition andtransportation.

The most significant increase presented at the February 4workshop was in the transportation line, up to $430,310 from$388,730, about a 10-percent increase. The majority of this jump(just over $33,000) is a result of a shift in student need forspecial education.

Though few audience members have attended the meetings to date,some folks are likely watching from home – this year, the workshopsare being broadcast on Channel 22. Check the “Channel 22 tab of thetown website to view broadcast times.

To view the Powerpoint slides that were presented during theworkshops, click on the business tab on the school website and lookfor the “Budget Workshop files at the bottom of the page.

The board encourages those with questions to contact Ms.Clifford at 749-0302, extension 408, or by email [email protected]; or Mr. Schneider at 749-0302,extension 537, or by email [email protected].

The following items will be discussed at tonight’s budgetworkshop, held at 7 p.m. in the Home and Careers room: BOCES,school lunch, inter-fund transfers, revenue projections,contingency overview, capital reserve and proposition, and federalfunds. The board has scheduled an additional two workshops on March25 and April 8 to be sure the budget proposal is ready for approvalby the board on April 19.