Shelter Island school spending expected to stay within tax cap next year

Superintendent Brian Doelger, Ph.D., unveiled ideas about the budget for the 2020-21 school year Tuesday night. His message to taxpayers is that he and the Board of Education aim to deliver a spending plan that doesn’t pierce the state-mandated tax cap while maintaining existing programs.

Early numbers released Tuesday night show the district anticipates only a slight hike in the part of the budget taxpayers will have to pay compared with the current budget.

Based on early estimates, taxpayers could account for $10.8 million in the next school year, with an anticipated 2.36% increase.

But those numbers could change as it becomes clearer what the local school district can expect in state aid. The current school budget is $11.9 million.

Mr. Doelger took time to outline some of the anticipated spending for next year. Among the items are staff and teacher contracts. Salaries are based on negotiations, with some union contracts providing for raises based on years of service, supplementary education and other negotiated items, he said.

He projected a:

• 1.85% increase in administrative and general support staff salaries.

• 1.3% increase for those who work in operations and maintenance.

• 3.2% for instructional oversight and development.

• 1.45% for general education.

• 1.48% for special education.

• 6.91% increase for extracurricular and athletics.

That last item accounts for what Mr. Doelger said was a substantial increase in salaries for referees in Section 11 for sports and new extracurricular activities for which coaches or staffers receive extra compensation.

The contribution rate the district pays to the state for the Teachers Retirement System is projected to be 10.25%; the Employees Retirement System for clerical, custocial and other staff positions is expected to be 16.2%; and Social Security is expected to be 7.65%.

Ever-rising health insurance costs, to which most employees pay a part, are expected to rise by 4.62%.

On Feb. 10, Mr. Doelger will outline the proposed spending for administration, education, facilities and capital projects. On March 2, he will discuss the budget further with the Board of Education and outline other potential ballot items. The board will continue its review on the proposal on March 16.

The goal is to adopt a budget proposal on April 20 that will go to voters on May 19.

Once the budget proposal is adopted, it can’t be changed, but will be outlined again for voters at a hearing on May 11.

While regular Board of Education meetings aren’t televised, the budget sessions are recorded and stream on the town site. Budget meetings, which begin at 6 p.m., are open to the public.