School board preview: SWR expected to adopt $62.35 mil budget proposal

04/02/2012 2:00 PM |

SAMANTHA BRIX FILE PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River superintendent Steven Cohen and school board president Bill McGrath at a school board meeting in January.

CORRECTION: This meeting takes place in the middle school, not the high school.

The Shoreham-Wading River school board is set to vote Tuesday night on adopting a proposed $62.35 million 2012-13 school budget, setting the proposal up for a district vote this spring, according to the school board meeting’s agenda. (See  complete agenda below.)

Under the budget proposed by superintendent Steven Cohen, the district would be able to stay below the state mandated 2 percent tax levy cap for the 2012-13 school year while not reducing teaching staff or programs.

The tax cap limits the amount of money the district can collect from taxpayers.

Dr. Cohen’s budget, a 3.98 percent spending increase from last year’s budget, includes support for existing programs. Because staffing levels will remain the same, Dr. Cohen said district schools should have about the same class sizes as the 2011-12 school year: between 18 to 25 students per class in the primary schools, 20 to 25 students per class in the intermediate school, and 28 or fewer students per class in the secondary schools.

Shoreham-Wading River will not have to cut staff or programs next year because the district will pull about $3.75 million from its reserve funds as tax relief, about double the amount from the 2011-12 school year.

The reserve funds will be tapped into once the fund balance — the unspent funds from the previous years’ budget from savings such as reduced heating costs in the warm winter — is depleted, officials have said.

School officials said more than $16 million remain in the various reserve funds.

The majority of the budget, about 75 percent, will be spent on teacher salaries and benefits, according to district presentations. Dr. Cohen said rising health care premiums “are the main drivers of increases in employee benefits.”

The meeting is open to the public and will be held at 8 p.m. at the Shoreham-Wading River MIDDLE SCHOOL library.

It was also recently revealed that the district will be getting almost 4 percent more in state aid for next school year than what was originally proposed in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposed budget. It was not immediately clear how the additional funds would be spent.

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Shoreham-Wading River school board meeting agenda, April 3, 2012