SWR budget proposal: $67 million

05/20/2014 9:00 AM |
Shoreham-Wading River High School. (Credit: Joe Werkmeister)

Shoreham-Wading River High School. (Credit: Joe Werkmeister)

Shoreham-Wading River School District taxpayers will vote Tuesday on a proposed $67 million budget.

Overall spending is estimated to increase by about $1.15 million over the current school year.

swrbudgetThe total amount raised from taxes would increase 1.9 percent under the proposal, about $940,000 over the current tax levy of $49.4 million.

Superintendent Steven Cohen has said exemptions approved by the state would have allowed the district to propose a tax levy increase of up to 2.9 percent — about $1.43 million — without piercing the state tax cap, but his administration and the school board were committed to crafting a budget under that amount.

The majority of the spending increase involves the use of $1.51 million from the capital fund for several facility improvement projects, including roofs at the high school and middle school and a high school public address system. In addition, repairs would be made at Miller Avenue and Wading River elementary schools to make both buildings ADA compliant, Mr. Cohen said.

Technology expenses are expected to rise to about $689,300, a hike of nearly 14 percent. The increase is attributable to costs for for maintenance, support and warranties on new electronic devices the district purchased through the 2012 voter-approved technology bond, the superintendent said.

Mr. Cohen said that if voters reject the proposed budget Tuesday, spending will have to be cut by nearly $2 million under a contingency budget.

“Voting against the budget is basically saying the community doesn’t want the buildings fixed,” he said during a recent presentation.

Smaller class sizes, current programs and enrichment opportunities for students — such as sports, music, athletics and clubs — are included in next school year’s spending plan, he said.

Salaries are expected to decline by nearly $940,000 over the current school year, Mr. Cohen said. Some employees could be let go entirely as the district plans to eliminate the equivalent of 15 positions through retirements, staff redeployments and some layoffs. Additionally, the superintendent attributed the 2.9 percent reduction in salaries to contract negotiations with the teachers union.

The district has also decided to close Briarcliff Elementary School in Shoreham next year as a cost-saving measure and has noted three possible uses for the current kindergarten and first-grade building: transforming it into a pre-kindergarten building (pending state funding for such programs), leasing the space or leaving it vacant.

The district plans to turn Miller Avenue Elementary School into a kindergarten through second-grade primary school and Wading River Elementary School into a third- through fifth-grade intermediate school in 2014-15.

The district is expected to be less reliant on using reserves to subsidize the budget next year and plans to use about $5.28 million from the fund balance to support the proposed budget, which Mr. Cohen said is a 4.97 percent decrease over the current school year.

The district is expected to be less reliant on using reserves to subsidize the budget next year.

jennifer@timesreview.com