SWR school board to discuss employee salaries at budget workshop

SAMANTHA BRIX FILE PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River superintendent Steven Cohen at the meeting to appoint him last June.

The Shoreham-Wading River school board will discuss employee salaries and benefits, which make up a majority of the district’s proposed $62.4 million 2012-13 budget, during its third budget workshop of the year tonight.

Superintendent Steven Cohen will continue his presentations on the proposed 2012-13 budget, a 3.98 percent spending increase from this year’s budget. Employees’ salaries and benefits cost about $46 million, nearly 75 percent of the budget, according to a previous presentation in February.

At that meeting, Dr. Cohen said the district had an additional $135,000 left it could allocate to bring the school up against the 2 percent tax levy cap.

The tax cap limits the amount of money the district can collect from taxpayers. But rather than face cuts to bring the school budget under the cap, the district is pulling about $3.75 million from its reserve fund to make up lost revenue — about double what was taken from the fund last year. School officials said there are more than $16 million in reserves between the various funds.

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

“We are using a combination of savings from different funds to mitigate taxes this year,” Dr. Cohen said at the February meeting.

The school board decided to focus on funding enrichment programs, such as “Arts in Education” assemblies and programs would be most beneficial for elementary school students.

The remainder of the $135,000 would be placed in a capital fund budget line that would be created for 2012-13. Partial repairs to the high school roof, which would cost about $700,000 in total, should begin as soon as possible, insisted board member Richard Pluschau.

State aid could be provided for between 30 and 34 percent of all repair costs.

The latest meeting will take place tonight at 8 p.m. in the high school library. Scroll down to view a complete agenda of tonight’s meeting.

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Shoreham-Wading River school board agenda March 6, 2012