Malone Proposes Pre-K Spending
by Marissa Maier
At the Sag Harbor Board of Education meeting on Monday evening, Pierson principal Jeff Nichols brought out a five-inch wide binder. The hundreds of pages jammed into the blue binder contained Nichols’ and elementary school principal Matt Malone’s spending projections for both buildings in the next school year. The duo went over nearly every spending line at the BOE meeting on Monday evening, after working with educators for the past few months to craft the spending plan. Their proposed budget ranged from the regular, such as instructional salaries, to the exotic, like pre-kindergarten supplies and equipment, completing a rock climbing wall at the elementary school and conducting a graduate survey.
The instructional salaries accounted for the bulk of the proposed 2010-2011 budget. Salaries for educators from kindergarten through twelfth grade were around $8.48 million. This budget line increased by roughly $559,000 from last year. School superintendent Dr. John Gratto noted that Nichols and Malone estimated these figures around a 2.5 percent annual salary increase plus step, or the board’s last public offer proposed to the teachers. The school will likely spend about $316,000 on salaries for special needs teachers, accounting for a $29,500 increase. The total guidance counselor salaries are slated at roughly $423,000, which is up by about $18,000 from last year. The nurses’ overall contracts cost close to $109,000 including a $4,000 increase. Co-curricular salary payments, for clubs and after school programs, were estimated at $226,000, showing a rise of about $11,400. School business manager Janet Verneuille pointed out that these numbers only account for salaries and do not include retirement contributions.
Malone also mentioned expenses arising from establishing a pre-k program. He proposed $10,000 for equipment, play area and toys, $10,000 for classroom supplies, $10,000 for a fence and $91,800 for midday transportation for the program. Though, Malone mentioned the school would save $78,000 in transportation costs if the school purchased its own bus fleet.
He also proposed spending $3,000 to complete a rock climbing wall at the elementary school. Malone slated another $5,000 for a contract with BOCES to provide electronic elementary school report cards. Nichols proposed $5,000 for a visiting artist or professional, which he noted has long been a facet of the curriculum.
Nichols slated $2,200 in spending for a graduate survey. He explained the school supplies BOCES with basic information on Pierson’s graduates. Then BOCES tracks the students’ progress and rate of retention in institutes of higher education.
By the next meeting, on February 22, the board expects to present a rough summary of the total budget, data on state aid revenue, fund balance projections and town property assessments. He added that Governor David Paterson is proposing to cut $195,000 in aid to Sag Harbor. Dr. Gratto said it was a bit premature to make a verdict on whether or not the board will have to make cuts to the budget.
“There are so many questions. If we have to make a cut what will it be?” asked board president Walter Wilcoxen.
Board member Mary Anne Miller added, “I think it is important to spend as much time as possible having these discussions.”