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Shelter Island School Superintendent reveals budget numbers

In preparing for a draft proposal for the Shelter Island School District budget of 2024-25, Superintendent Brian Doelger, Ed.D., has revealed some numbers he believes will please the public.

Although the next school budget proposal vote is six months away, work on the spending plan began months earlier. In reviewing budgets during the past four school years under his leadership, the total increases add up to $513,836. In the same period, taxes have increased by a total of $458,670.

During the four school years, the district has:

• Paid to install a $1.2 million septic system.

• Purchased a new van to transport students to off-Island activities.

• Bought a new car for driver’s ed training.

• Added several new sports, including the student-requested soccer program.

• Added new clubs.

• Enhanced the curriculum and professional development programs not previously offered.

• Budgeted for a new softball field and signage.

“This is pretty remarkable,” Mr. Doelger said.

As is typical, by January, the superintendent will be meeting with staff to compile their wish lists for future funding.  He’ll be working on a preliminary budget that will go to the Board of Education in a series of public workshops to structure a spending plan to be submitted to voters next May.

To put the situation into some perspective, it took until this spring to move the district from a “targeted” status by the State Education Department — meaning it had been watched closely to improve some faults and move it to being a district in “good standing.”

Factors that contributed to it being targeted had occurred primarily prior to Mr. Doelger taking over as superintendent in August 2019. He had expected the state would act to remove the district from the targeted status at least a year earlier.

But once targeted, the State Education Department is cautious about removing a district from that list.

After four years, Mr. Doelger announced the change at an early spring Board of Education meeting.