The Riverhead school board is split on how to spend nearly $852,000 of additional state aid recently secured in New York State’s 2014-15 budget.
During the Tuesday night’s regular meeting, Superintendent Nancy Carney proposed using a $368,000 portion of those funds to reduce the tax levy increase to 2 percent. In addition, she proposed pulling $225,000 less from the district’s reserves, and boosting the district’s maintenance budget by $74,000 in order to better maintain new landscaping.
Mr. Carney also said her spending plan includes setting $185,000 aside to hire two additional English as a Second Language teachers.
Last month, Ms. Carney had presented a $120.7 million budget for the 2014-15 school year that carries an estimated 2.4 percent increase to the tax levy — the most the district can spend under the state’s tax cap law.
Her proposal walks the line between staying under the tax cap and preserving programs, she said, noting the importance of some new ESL hires: during the 2005-06 school year, the district had 378 ESL students and 11 ESL teachers. Although the district’s ESL student population swelled to 870 students in 2013-14, the district only had 13 ESL teachers, she said.
Though some school board members said they would like to see more programs put back into place.
School board president Ann Cotten-DeGrasse said she would like the district to offer extra help in math at Pulaski Street School since parents have said their children in those grades are struggling with new rigorous standards.
Assistant superintendent Sam Schneider estimated it would cost the district $75,000 in transportation costs to run late busses five days a week at Pulaski Street school. Ms. Carney said it teachers are paid between $33 and $36 per hour for extra help.
School board vice president Grey Meyer asked if the district could at least another middle school guidance counselor.
The school board didn’t come to a consensus Tuesday night on how the additional aid should be spent.
The budget adoption is scheduled for April 22.