Sag Harbor School District’s State Aid Cut

Posted on 30 January 2013

By Amanda Wyatt

In the midst of preparing its budget for next year, the Sag Harbor School District may potentially hit a roadblock with the recent announcement of a sizeable reduction in the aid it receives from New York State.

During a budget workshop on Monday evening, John O’Keefe, the district’s business administrator, presented the board of education with a preliminary estimate of anticipated state aid based on Governor Andrew Cuomo’s recently released executive budget for 2013-2014.

Next year, it looks as though Sag Harbor may receive $1,308,882 in aid, compared to 2012-2013’s base year aid of $1,440,778. This represents a cut of 9.15 percent or $131,896, said O’Keefe.

“This isn’t just Sag Harbor,” he noted. “This is any district that has a high wealth ratio…There are dramatic drops across the board and throughout the island, as well, depending upon the wealth of the district.”

However, it appears as though Sag Harbor stands to lose more funds than many other districts on the East End. For example, Bridgehampton could face a reduction of $46,529, while Southampton and East Hampton may see reductions of $42,397 and $77,769, respectively.

“So it’s something we’ll have to keep an eye on as we go forward in the budget process,” O’Keefe said. “[But] there’s no sense of panic or anything yet. We’re budgeting very conservatively, both on the revenue side and on the expense side.”

However, he added, these projections were based on incomplete data, and the final state budgets are usually “more generous.” By April, the district should know the final amount of aid it will receive.

The district’s new athletic director, Todd Gulluscio, and Montgomery Granger, the director of buildings and grounds, were also on hand to present the budgets for athletics and facilities, respectively.

Gulluscio noted that this year, Sag Harbor has 61 athletic teams — 35 of which are hosted by the school — and approximately 373 students participating in sports.

The proposed athletic budget for 2013-2014 is $855,607.49, which is a $17,107.99 or two percent increase from this year’s budget. Gulluscio said that this is partially due to an increase in salaries, including the shift from a part-time to a full time athletic director.

According to Granger, the district plans to spend $385,500 in fuel, electricity and gas, which is $24,812 or six percent less than the current energy budget.

Some of the money saved, he said, may be put into improvements in security, including cameras, door sensors and a buzzer system.

The operations budget for next year is $597,300, which is $44,253 or 6.9 percent less than this year’s budget. The maintenance budget is $495,500, which is $31,051 or 5.9 percent less than this year’s budget.

Granger also gave an update on the district’s capital projects, which are all fully funded. The district has $249 left over from construction of the elementary school’s playground, and a balance of $56,950 for energy conservation. There is also $90,400 remaining for health and safety projects and $500,000 for energy management (HVAC) projects.

The next budget workshop will be held on February 11.

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