The Shelter Island School 2015-16 budget won’t pierce the state tax cap.
That word came Tuesday night from Superintendent Leonard Skuggevik in the first in a series of budget hearings that will occur prior to the expected adoption of the proposed budget by the Board of Education in April.Voters will get the final word on the spending package when they go to the polls May 19.
While the tax cap is set at 2 percent, it goes up and down slightly based on the previous year’s spending.
As it works out for the 2015-16 school term, the actual tax cap for Shelter Island will be 1.7 percent, Mr. Skuggevik said.
Excluded from the cap are pension costs and debt service, he said.
Numbers revealed Monday night were for contractual costs the district can’t change, such as teacher and employee salaries, special education, health insurance and other benefits. Health insurance premiums will increase by 11 percent, but the good news is the last contracts provided for contributions from teachers and staff to offset those premiums.
While offering the general overview, the superintendent outlined achievements that advanced the educational process in Shelter Island in the current year and plans to expand programs next year.
In addition to this year’s expanded advanced placement courses, Mr. Skuggevik said he’s working with Suffolk County Community College to bring about a system that would enable students to get college credits for some of their studies at an average cost of $59 per credit, considerably less than the more than $300 per credit students typically have to pay once they enter college.
As the system develops, he expects the credits will not only be honored by SCCC, but also other colleges in New York State.
Within the next year, Mr. Skuggevik expects a number of teacher retirements. As is typical in most schools, those who are hired to replace them generally have less experience and, therefore, their salaries are typically less, he said.
Mr. Skuggevik said the district is hunting for a replacement for Kathleen Minder, who resigned as school business manager last summer. Jennifer Ditta of Cullen & Danowski, the district’s auditing firm, has been assisting business office personnel with fiscal matters while the search is under way.
That means the district is currently paying Cullen & Danowski additional money for professional services to cover the services Ms. Ditta is rendering, but in the next budget, money will be allocated to pay the new business manager.
Presentations on anticipated spending for the next school year will be outlined at the following budget hearings, all at 7 p.m.:
• February 9, when the focus will be on administration costs;
• March 16, with a focus on educational costs;
• March 23, when capital spending will be discusses; and
• March 30, when Mr. Skuggevik will provide an overview look at the budget proposal.
On April 22, he expects the Board of Education to vote to accept a proposal to be submitted to voters on May 19.
Following the budget hearing, the Board of Education heard from two students, Taylor Rando and Kaitlyn Mulcahy, about the exchange between Shelter Island and Longwood seniors that gave the Island students a chance to spend a day at Longwood, the largest and most diverse school district.
The students said the exchange not only provided them a look at what they are likely to face as they go to college in the future, but also an appreciation for the education they get here.
Science teacher Dan Williams was on hand to thank the Board of Education for his new nanodrop spectrometer that enables students to identify reasons why some of their experiments don’t work. Science is about trial and error, but better understanding what doesn’t work can open the path to finding what does.
The equipment is unusual in a high school setting, but it will transform what his students are able to do in the lab, he said.
Olivia Garrison, a winner of a Suffolk County Zone Award given to students who excel both in the classroom and athletics, spoke about the experience of interacting with students from other districts at the awards dinner. The other student receiving a Zone Award was Sawyer Clark.
Board member Elizabeth Melichar-Lechmanski wants to know where the banners are. She asked Todd Gulluscio, physical education and district operation director why banners for the winning girls varsity volleyball team and boys varsity basketball team weren’t flying from the rafters by now.
He said there are 20 banners missing and he and Mr. Skuggevik are assessing which can be combined in a single banner and which need their own banners and said he expected it would be next year before the banners are ordered.
That clearly didn’t set well with Mr. Melichar-Lechmanski, who told the men students and parents are disappointed not to have their achievements recognized with banners sooner.
In other business, the Board:
• Appointed Martha Tuthill to a three-year probationary position as guidance counselor as of February 23 at a salary of $59,413 to be prorated for the current school year. She replaces Mark Palios who resigned after five years to accept a job as assistant principal at Newfield High School in the Middle Country Central School District. Ms. Tuthill was a guidance teacher in Greenport for students in kindergarten through grade 8. She is also a former Board of Education member at Oysterponds.
• Approved revised Code of Conduct and Safety policies. Both are posted on the school’s website.
• Appointed Peter Miedema a junior varsity boys’ baseball coach at a salary of $4,598.
• Approved the appointment of Maryann Impastato as senior account clerk at a salary of $49,848 as of February 6.
• Approved transportation services at a cost of $1,138 for students to attend the Broadway production of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” on March 11.