School District reveals preliminary figures on school staff costs

COURTESY ILLUSTRATION

The public got a first look Tuesday evening at the direction the administration and the Shelter Island Board of Education hopes to take in structuring a budget for the 2019-20 school year. The goal is to stay within the state-imposed cap of 2 percent above the current tax rate.

Numbers released Tuesday, however, represent only one of four major areas of spending and are preliminary.

District Business Leader Linda Haas said salaries for the next school year at this point would appear to raise costs by 3.71 percent and benefits that could increase by 6.07 percent.

But many factors could change those preliminary numbers.

If a seasoned teacher, with years of experience, were to retire or leave the district for another job and be replaced by an entry level teacher, that would lower a salary.

If more special education services were needed, particularly services that had to be offered off-campus, that could raise costs. When it comes to benefits, district officials don’t know how much health insurance will go up. Numbers plugged into the current proposal are based on past years until actual figures become available, Ms. Haas said.

Currently, salaries show an increase of $215,084, going from $5.546 million in the current school year to $5.8 million next year.

Benefits would cost $187,657 more next year than the district currently pays, if projected numbers hold. That means they would go from $3.09 million this year to $3.28 million next year and include payments to Employee and Teacher retirement systems, Social Security and Medicare and health insurance premiums.

Before taxpayers begin to project what the actual proposed budget will look like when they go the polls in May, it’s important to see these early numbers as “a work in progress,” said Board of Education President Thomas Graffagnino.

Next Monday, Ms. Haas will outline the initial proposal for administrative spending. On January 28, she will outline the capital spending budget dealing with facilities, and on February 11, she will present the initial proposal for spending on educational programs.

After all figures have been presented, and Board of Education members and the public have been given opportunities to comment on the proposal, the 2019-20 budget proposal will take shape in sessions scheduled for March 4, 11 and 25, with anticipated adoption of the proposal by the Board of Education on April 16.

All budget sessions are at 6 p.m. with an official budget hearing on the proposal slated for May 13.

The meetings are open to the public and are recorded and available on Channel 22 and on the town’s website.

The vote on a new budget takes place May 21 between noon and 9 p.m.

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