05/11/11 11:50pm

Voters will head to the polls on Tuesday, May 17 to decide a range of school district issues: the proposed 2011-12 budget, bond propositions to fund building renovations and a new emergency power generator, and whether or not to create a capital reserve fund for Project FIT. There are also three school board positions to fill.

The Reporter began reviewing each of these choices in the April 28 issue. This week, the topic is the 2011-2012 budget, “Proposition 1” on the ballot.

The school is asking voters to approve a $9,640,614 budget for the 2011-2012 school year, a 0.97 percent increase (about $92,635) over the current year’s budget. That would translate to a projected tax levy of $8,727,224, a 1.45 percent increase or about $125,000 over the current year’s tax levy.

That would result in a tentative tax rate of $2.8474 for each $1,000 of assessed value, according to the Town Assessor’s office. In other words, a person whose property is assessed at $500,000 would pay $1,423.70 in school taxes.

The budget vote is May 17 in the school gymnasium from noon to 9 p.m.

Al Hammond, the chair of the Board of Assessors, said property owners with questions about the effect on their tax bills may call the assessors office at 749-1080.

If voters reject the proposed budget, state law requires that a district adopt a contingency budget. The contingency budget is calculated according to a formula that typically increases the previous year’s budget by a small percentage. Applying that formula, this year’s contingency budget would be higher than the budget proposed by the board, a situation that is not allowed by state law. As a result, the district has had to revert to a contingency budget that removes non-instructional equipment expenses (such as maintenance equipment) and cuts out increases for non-union employees.

The 2011-2012 contingency budget is $9,612,965, about $28,000 less than the proposed budget. This is the third year in a row that the board has proposed a budget so low that the contingency budget had to be calculated this way.

The board arrived at its budget proposal after a series of workshops starting in February. One of the biggest cuts made was the elimination of the librarian, Christine Miller’s position, and the reduction of three teaching positions from full time to 60 percent: those of Business Education teacher Katherine Doroski, Mathematics 7-12 instructor Audrey Pedersen and Family & Consumer Science and Home Economics teacher Roni Siller. That eliminated about $250,000 from the budget.

During Monday night’s public hearing on budget meeting, board President Rebecca Mundy argued that “it supports all of our programmatic needs and doesn’t reduce or eliminate the services to our students … We needed to be as fiscally responsible as possible in this economic climate.”

The district also cut $66,000 in costs for sending students to another district and $16,000 from the Arts and Education program line, which now has less than $4,000 to provide programs such as assemblies that provide cultural experiences.

The district has budgeted about $230,000 to complete modest capital improvements: the installation of a handicapped accessible exterior door in the elementary school, installation of new bleachers in the school gym, refinishing and painting the gym floor, repaving the parking lot and installation of a welding safety hood in the technology classroom. The demolition of the Project FIT space that will take place this spring will be funded through reserves, not new taxes, as will the construction of its replacement.

The $230,000 for capital improvements would be partially offset by the $206,200 that is no longer required  for debt service because school paid off its last installment of a 1991 bond, Mr. Schneider said during a March 14 budget workshop. He said the $230,000 figure was a rough estimate of the average payment over the past 20 years.

The district was facing a tough budget season this year, according to interim Superintendent Robert Parry. During the April 11 budget workshop, he said: “With the increases in health insurance, the increases in the … retirement system contributions and with the step increases already built into the teacher contracts … those factors alone created a tax levy increase of 4.4 or 4.5 percent.”

The district also saw a $34,445 drop in state aid, from $472,835 to $438,390.

05/11/11 11:13pm

TED HILLS PHOTO | Freshman pitcher Matt BeltCappellino pitched all seven innings on Tuesday.

With a season record of 11-1, the Indians are no doubt comfortable with their ability to rack up the wins. Their 8-7 victory over McGann-Mercy on Tuesday, however, was no walk in the park — a late-game push from McGann-Mercy put the Indian’s 11th win in jeopardy and had the players and spectators on the edge of their seats.

The Indians on the bench looked tense after a long shot from a McGann-Mercy batter sent two runners home in the top of the seventh and the Indians’ 7-5 lead disappeared.

“Shake it off, Matt!” someone yelled from the stands, encouraging the pitcher, freshman Matt BeltCappellino to focus on the next batter. Just one more out and the Indians would get last licks, their last chance to win Tuesday’s game before heading into extra innings.

With a runner on second, BeltCappellino wound up and threw a strike. The batter slammed the next pitch high into the air, but centerfielder Matt Dunning was there to make the catch and retire the side.

Pitching an entire game can be tiring, BeltCappellino said, “but you get the adrenaline pumping — you wanna win so badly, so you keep throwing strikes.”

In the bottom of the seventh, BeltCappellino was first to the plate, and a good eye earned him a call of ball one from the umpire. He slammed the next pitch deep into left field, made it to first base. Matt’s brother, Andrew, was up next. Matt took a hefty lead, and when the pitcher threw ball one, he high-tailed it to second base. Without a McGann-Mercy fielder on second base to try to pick him off, he took a large lead again, and on the next pitch stole third, triggering a roaring cheer from the stands and putting him in position to score the winning run.

When his brother knocked a one-hop hit to third base, he did just that, crossing home plate after the catcher couldn’t reel in a wild throw from third, and the Indians’ bench emptied to celebrate.

“Everyone contributed something to that win,” Coach Peter Miedema explained after the game. “Whether it was a hit or a caught fly ball, everybody contributed, and that’s perfect.”

“We were a little sharper than the week before,” he added. “Some errors happened, but the majority of the plays we did were the correct thing to do.”

The Indians have benefited this season from fast base runners. In Tuesday’s game Riley Willumsen scored three runs, Matt BeltCappellino crossed the plate twice, and Nate Mundy, Spencer Gibbs and Matt Dunning all scored one run each.

The Indians had an easier time earning their two victories during a double-header at Greenport the week before on Friday, May 6 — after the Porters broke the Indians’ 8-game win streak on May 2 with a 7-6 victory, the Indians were raring for revenge on Friday, and it showed.

The Indians’ bats came alive in the fourth inning of the first game, when all nine batters in the line-up scored runs. With both Andrew and Matt BeltCappellino pitching, and a strong performance in the field, the Indians allowed just 5 runs. The final score was 18-5.

The Shelter Island squad kept their momentum in the second Friday game and earned another victory, 9-6. Willumsen was pitching and threw three strikeouts.

The score of the Indians’ game against McGann-Mercy yesterday wasn’t available when the Reporter went to press, but Coach Miedema was expecting a battle. “[Tuesday’s] game is going to leave a bitter taste in their mouths, so I know they’re coming to play.”

The Indians play tomorrow at Fiske Field against McGann-Mercy at 4:30 p.m.

05/11/11 11:10pm

ANNAMARIE RUSCICA PHOTO | Richard Ruscica in the season opener.

The Shelter Island Indians junior high squad is still looking for its first win, having lost the first three games of the season on April 29, May 5 and May 9.

Despite a strong performance early in their season opener on April 29, the boys were edged out by Hampton Bays, 6-5.

The Indians got on the scoreboard right away when lead-off batter Jack Kimmelmann and Billy Boeklen each scored runs in the first inning. Another two runs from Liam Cummings and Peter Kropf in the second inning helped the Islanders hold the lead through the first half of the game.

As the contest continued, however, “they started to chip away at us,” Coach Brian Doelger explained. Maksym Moros made it home in the sixth, but it wasn’t enough to stop a strong late-game rally by the Baymen, which put them over the top in the seventh inning. The Indians had the last licks, and though they were set up with runners on first and second base, they couldn’t get them home, and Hampton Bays left Fiske Field with a win.

One of the team’s strong points in the opener was their pitching, Coach Brian Doelger said. Tristan Wissemann had the mound for the first four innings, throwing two strikeouts and allowing just two runs. “He’s really good, a big time pitcher.” Rich Ruscica took over for the last three innings and threw one strikeout of his own.

Though it was a loss, Coach Doelger was pleased with the team’s performance: “We did a pretty good job, I was encouraged with the first game … we made almost every infield play.” The squad is a relatively young team; almost all of the players are 7th graders.

A familiar disadvantage for Shelter Island reared its head during this contest: a small player pool. Most schools have enough students to field more than one junior high team. On opening day, the Indians were playing Hampton Bays’ “purple” team, comprised entirely of 8th graders. There are 11 kids on the Island squad this year, about half the number their opponents fielded. Considering that they were playing older kids, Coach Doelger said, the Indians had a very strong game.

Having a team of all 7th graders has its advantages, though. “We basically get the whole team back next year, so I think that’s when we’ll start doing some damage,” Coach Doelger said.

There’s a girl on the team this year, Kenna McCarthy. Being a female in a male sport comes with its challenges — she has taken some ribbing from the 8th grade boys on the other teams, according to Coach Doelger, “but she’s tougher than them anyway,” he said with a smile.

Since the squad started practicing on March 28, the team has been working mostly on the fundamentals, Coach Doelger explained: “Infield and outfield practice, throwing to the cutoff man, footwork, base running and certainly conditioning.”

No matter how much they practice, it will be tough for the Indians to beat some teams -— they were overwhelmed by Pierson/Bridgehampton on Thursday, May 5, in an 18-0 loss. The visiting opponents “hit everything,” Coach Doelger explained, “and their pitcher threw strike after strike. I think they’re by far the best team in the league.”

With a weekend to lick their wounds, the Indians returned to Fiske Field on Monday, May 9 to battle Southampton. The Mariners got on the scoreboard in the top of the first inning with two runs and scored another run in the second inning.

The Indians were having trouble at bat for much of the game. Only two players got on base for the Indians in the first three innings: Wissemann made it to third base in the second inning, and Adrian Sulahian did too, in the third inning.

Despite their difficulties in the batting box, “We played great defense,” Coach Doelger explained. “They made all the plays they were supposed to” in the field.

The Indians also benefited from another strong performance from Wissemann on the mound, who pitched the entire game and threw four strikeouts. He even picked off a runner in the top of the sixth inning.

Junior varsity Coach Peter Miedema joined the junior high practice last week to show their pitchers the proper technique for picking off runners. It was nice to see that practice pay off, Coach Doelger commented.

The Indians didn’t earn their first runs until the fourth inning, when Boeklen crossed the plate, followed by Wissemann.

When they did get on base, they took advantage of their speed to manufacture runs. “We were stealing like crazy,” Coach Doelger said. Sawyer Clark scored a run in the fifth inning after stealing twice on consecutive pitches, tying the game up at 3-3.

The Mariners scored three runs in the top of the sixth inning, but Jack Kropf answered back with a run of his own in the bottom of the sixth. Three consecutive batters struck out during the Indians’ last licks, however, and the Mariners took home the win, 6-4.

The score of today’s game against Hampton Bays wasn’t available when the Reporter went to press. The Indians play Pierson/Bridgehampton today at 4 p.m. at Fiske Field.

05/11/11 11:05pm

UPCOMING GAMES:

Note: Lacrosse home games are held at The Ross School and softball home games at Holy Trinity Field in East Hampton unless otherwise noted.

Thursday, May 12

HOME JH BASEBALL 4:00 PM vs. Pierson/Bridgehampton

Friday, May 13

HOME JV BASEBALL 4:30 PM vs. McGann-Mercy

AWAY JV LACROSSE 4:00 PM at Hampton Bays

Monday, May 16

AWAY JV BASEBALL 4:30 PM at Pierson/Bridgehampton (Mashashimuet Park)

AWAY JV LACROSSE 4:00 PM at Westhampton

Tuesday, May 17

HOME JV LACROSSE 4:30 PM vs. Mt. Sinai

AWAY JH BASEBALL 4:00 PM at Southampton

HOME JV BASEBALL 4:30 PM vs. Pierson/Bridgehampton

Wednesday, May 18

AWAY JV BASEBALL 4:30 PM at Pierson/Bridgehampton

For a complete listing, visit sectionxi.org

05/05/11 12:41am

COURTESY SHELTER ISLAND SCHOOL DISTRICT PHOTO |Cracking brickwork at the Shelter Island School.

Voters will head to the polls on May 17 to decide a range of school district issues: the proposed 2011-12 budget, bond propositions to fund building renovations and a new emergency power generator, and whether or not to create a capital reserve fund for Project FIT. There are also three school board positions to fill.

The Reporter began with last week’s issue to review each choice that voters are facing in the weeks before the balloting. This week, the topic is the building improvements bond proposition, “Proposition 2” on the ballot.

A “yes” vote on the building renovations bond will allow the Shelter Island School District to borrow up to $2.237 million through the sale of 20-year bonds in order to pay for building renovations. School Business Leader Sam Schneider described the renovations as “health and safety” items.

Repaying the bond would cost the district an estimated $3,592,600, or an average of $179,630 a year for 20 years starting with the 2012-2013 school year. District officials expect to finish paying back the bond during the 2031-2032 school year.

The actual costs incurred by the repairs may be less than the bond amount, according to Mr. Schneider.

With the current assessment of Shelter Island’s tax base, the debt service for the bond would require a tax rate of approximately $0.59 per $1,000 of assessed property value for one year of repayment, according to Town Assessor Al Hammond. A property valued at $500,000 would pay approximately $29.45 for the first of the 20 years that the district would spend paying back the bond, though that figure would likely change, as assessments will change for the 2012 tax year, Mr. Hammond said.

Planned renovations include $425,000 in fixes to the exterior of the building, including cracks in the brick, mortar, keystones and parapets, some of which pose structural concerns, Mr. wSchneider said during his school budget workshop presentation on March 21. Water has frozen inside the cracks over the years and worsened the problems.

Other items include $275,000 to replace the school’s 40-year-old water tank, which is no longer reliable, according to Maintenance Chief Mike Dunning. “Better to replace now than in an emergency basis, when there’s a good chance we’d have to shut down school for a while,” he said during a March 14 budget workshop.

These projects could not all be completed in one summer and would be spread out over the next three to five years, Mr. Schneider said.

The vote will be on May 17 from 12 to 9 p.m. in the gym. An absentee ballot application is available on the school website at shelterisland.k12.ny.us under the “Board of Education” tab.

The items that the capital improvement bond would pay for include:

• $550,000 to overhaul the school’s heating, ventilation and air condition system;

• $400,000 to fix exterior portions of the building ($225,000 to fix exterior windows and their load-bearing lintels, $175,000 to fix exterior walls and $25,000 to fix parapets);

• $275,000 to replace the school’s water tank;

• $225,000 for electrical rewiring;

• $100,000 to fix elementary school bathrooms, which need updated plumbing fixtures. Also, their tile glazing is made with lead, which needs to be abated professionally;

• $85,000 to replace elementary school carpeting, which needs professional asbestos abatement;

• $80,000 to replace doors and windows with fire-safe doors and windows;

• $45,000 to replace the very old gas system that services cooking in the cafeteria;

• $7,000 to lower fire alarm levers to within reach of someone in a wheelchair and small children, in accordance with state standards;

• $445,000 in contingencies and fees.