02/26/14 2:00pm
02/26/2014 2:00 PM

As eighth-graders, former Shoreham students Kari Quinn (left), Nick Bottari and Kaitlyn Brosco all excelled on varsity in their respective sports. (File photos)

Shoreham-Wading River inched closer to adopting a selection classification policy, an issue that’s been the point of contention in the district for several years. Athletic director Mark Passamonte, who began the position in January, outlined a policy to the Board of Education at Tuesday night’s meeting that will allow for middle school students to be brought up to varsity or junior varsity sports under a specific set of guidelines.  (more…)

Veterans came out to support a tax exemption, which the Shoreham-Wading River school board voted in favor of Tuesday night. (Joe Werkmeister photo)

For nearly 40 minutes Tuesday night, a group of about 20 veterans sat patiently in the Shoreham-Wading River High School library listening to the Board of Education debate the procedure for middle school students to play varsity sports.

Finally, an older man in the group stood up and admitted: “I do believe most of us can’t contribute anything to what you’re doing, which is extremely interesting.”  (more…)

04/23/13 9:26am
FILE PHOTO |

FILE PHOTO | The 2013-14 school board and budget vote is scheduled for May 21.

The names of two newcomers will appear on the ballot in this year’s school board elections in the Riverhead and Shoreham-Wading River school districts.

Challenger Christopher Dorr of Baiting Hollow will face incumbents Jeff Falisi of Calverton and Amelia Lantz of Riverhead. There are two seats carrying three-year terms up for grabs on the seven-member board.

Over in Shoreham, two seats on the school board carrying three-year terms are up this year. Candidate Sean Beran of Wading River is looking to secure former school board member Marie Lindell’s seat. Ms. Lindell resigned in October due to scheduling conflicts between school board meetings and her job as a pilot. The Board of Education decided to wait until the May election to fill her position.

Incumbent school board vice president Richard Pluschau is running for re-election.

The 2013-14 school board and budget vote is scheduled for May 21.

Pick up Thursday’s copy of the Riverhead-News Review for more on this story.

jennifer@timesreview.com

02/07/13 5:00pm
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Superintendent Steven Cohen presents the budget forecast for next school year at Tuesday's school board meeting.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Superintendent Steven Cohen presents the budget forecast for next school year at Tuesday’s school board meeting.

By making one-time cuts and reducing professional services in their 2013-14 school budget, the Shoreham-Wading River school district will be able to stay within the state tax levy cap without having to cut school programs, according to a preliminary school budget.

But district officials warned that eventually there will be no more areas left to cut and administrators may have to make the “hard decisions” as early as next year about which school programs will go.

“The 2 percent tax levy cap is forcing districts all over New York State to think about what the important elements of their program are,” said superintendent Steve Cohen during a presentation at Tuesday night’s school board meeting.

The nearly $66 million 2013-14 school year budget forecasted in Mr. Cohen’s presentation is a roughly 5.3 percent increase from this year’s budget. The tax levy — the total amount of money collected from residents — will rise 1.9 percent, keeping it within the state’s limit.

But Mr. Cohen said that the budget is higher mostly because of hikes in the state-regulated pension contribution rates.

The district’s contribution to the teacher retirement system jumped 38 percent from last year, while employee retirement contributions rose about 13 percent from 2012-13, according to the presentation. Health insurance costs are also expected to rise by at least 15 percent, Mr. Cohen said.

Mr. Cohen said the district administration’s budget forecast would preserve district programs by making decisions to reduce $1,650,000 in costs that don’t affect student’s education in the budget.

One example was removing the overlap in federal grant money, Mr. Cohen said. In previous years, the district has budgeted in money that the federal government had promised them in grant funding in case the grant money is not delivered.

Now the district will not budget in the overlap in funding, which reduces flexibility in the budget if the grant funds are less than projected, he said. Once those one-time cuts are made, the next budget would be set at that new lower baseline.

Some programs will be improved in the new budget. Athletic teams will no longer use the district’s mini-buses to get to athletic events; the district will sign a contract with an outside company to hire newer buses with better safety measures to transport the teams, officials said.

Board member John Zukowski said the board must make sure they are getting all the necessary taxes from new construction projects like the proposed J-Power natural gas power plant in Shoreham.

But even if the district is getting the right amount of taxes, the board will still have to choose whether to cut programs or pierce the tax cap within the next few years, board president Bill McGrath said.

“Eventually we’ll either run out of money or the philosophy will be if we want to maintain this educational program that works to the benefit of our kids, then we’re actually going to have to start having a discussion about how do we go about piercing the cap,” Mr. McGrath said.

And the longer the district waits to pierce the cap, the higher the tax levy will jump and the harder it will be to pass a budget, officials said. If programs aren’t cut, the tax levy could rise to about 10 percent or higher as expenses increase and the district’s fund balance and state aid dry up in the coming years.

“We’re building the hill before the cliff,” Mr. McGrath said.

psquire@timesreview.com

02/05/13 4:00pm
FILE PHOTO

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | The track at Shoreham-Wading River High School.

The Shoreham-Wading River school board will provide an update on the voter-approved high school track and technology proposition at their meeting Tuesday night, according to the agenda.

The board will also vote to approve the construction of a concession stand near the new press box at the Shoreham-Wading River High School fields.

The $1.6 million track and technology proposition was approved by district residents in a vote last October. The district will spend most of the money on installing a districtwide wireless system and upgrades to school computer systems to conform with upcoming state-mandated testing requirements for the 2013-14 school year.

The tech upgrade will also include virtualized computer labs, Smartboards for classrooms and Microsoft software licensing. The resurfacing and subsurface repairs to the high school track — the other part of the proposition — would cost $286,000, according to a prior presentation on the project.

The projects will be paid for by using prior year state aid — money owed to the district by the state that can only be used for capital improvements or tax relief — and will not affect residents’ taxes.

A resolution to make additions to the press box at the high school field is also on the agenda Tuesday night. The board approved building a press box, public restrooms, a rooftop viewing platform and a space for a future concession stand on Feb. 14, 2012, but the press box construction was to only include the box and the viewing platform, according to the agenda.

The space for the new concession stand will be added to the press box if the resolution is approved.

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

psquire@timesreview.com