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SWR residents head to polls Tuesday to vote on $74.8M budget

A $74.8 million budget is up for voter approval Tuesday in Shoreham-Wading River, representing a spending increase of 3 percent —or $2.2 million — over the current budget.

The budget is within the state-mandated cap, coming in at a nearly 4.7 percent tax levy increase, said Glen Arcuri, assistant superintendent for finance and operations.

Voting takes place Tuesday, May 16, from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the high school’s auxiliary gym.

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Mr. Arcuri said the budget maintains all current academic and interscholastic programs, including athletic teams at the middle school and high school levels, music programs in all schools and all electives. It also maintains class sizes of 19 to 24 students at the elementary level and under 30 students at the secondary level.

The proposed budget adds new extracurricular programs — including dance, robotics, debate team, pep band, elementary world language and a suicide awareness group — a Chromebook pilot program and increasing math support at the secondary level and mental health support at the elementary level, Mr. Arcuri said.

The district is also looking to establish a $7.5 million capital reserve fund.

Funding would not come from taxpayers, but from budgetary appropriations, unappropriated balances from the general fund as authorized by the Board of Education and transfers from other reserves as authorized by law, he said.

“It’s important to point out, the voters are approving to create this account,” Mr. Arcuri said in April. “They’re not voting to put money in on May 16. It’s just the authority to establish it. When and if we get money in it after it’s established, we have to go to the taxpayers to get permission to spend this money.”

The 2017-18 budget also includes $40,000 that was originally allocated to cover portions of the senior class trip to Disney World that the Board of Education deemed educational. After consideration and community feedback, it was decided to keep the money in the budget but use it for other purposes.

Additionally, nearly $3.5 million was budgeted to pay debt service on work associated with the bond referendum district voters approved in January 2015. It was the bond principal and interest that created exceptions allowing the district to raise the levy by nearly 4.7 percent and still remain under the state-mandated 2 percent tax levy cap, Mr. Arcuri said.

One line in the budget will fund additional work, including irrigation installation and repairs at Miller Avenue School and Wading River Elementary School, as well as work on the middle school track and a new greenhouse.