Tag Archive | "Sag Harbor"

Thiele Proposes Legislation to Eliminate GEA, Give State Aid Back to Schools

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By Tessa Raebeck 

In order to fill a shortfall in its budget, five years ago New York State began deducting aid money from its school districts through the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA), a formula loudly criticized by educators, school boards and districts across the state.

Now, state Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. of Sag Harbor has introduced legislation to repeal the GEA. His bill is co-sponsored by State Senator Kenneth LaValle and supported by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

Originally enacted to close a $10 billion state budget deficit in the worst years of the recession, the GEA has reduced education aid to New York’s schools by nearly $9 billion in the five school years since its inception in 2010. Schools in New York receive less state aid now than they did during the 2009-10 school year.

Although East End schools do not typically receive large amounts of state aid, the GEA has cost Sag Harbor more than $400,000 over the past two years.

The GEA was introduced by former Governor David Paterson when state legislators developing the budget realized New York’s anticipated revenue did not cover expenses, resulting in a “gap” between the money the state was taking in and the money it needed to operate. The GEA was created to fill that gap by essentially passing the financial burden onto the state’s school districts.

Assemblyman Thiele, who serves on the Assembly’s Education Committee and did not vote in favor of the reduced education aid when it was originally proposed five years ago, said on Tuesday that the financial issues used to promote the GEA are no longer facing the state, and thus its elimination this year is both incumbent and timely.

“I voted against it then because I didn’t think we should be taking money away from education, but now we’ve gone from a deficit to over a $5 billion surplus, so there really is no excuse for continuing the Gap Elimination Adjustment, which is a continuing cut in state aid for the local school districts,” he said.

“Continued state aid loss due to GEA reductions will continue to erode the quality of education school districts can provide. The state cannot continue to pass along its revenue shortfalls to local school districts,” the New York State School Boards Association said in a statement against the GEA, adding that the losses have resulted in “detrimental cuts to personnel, the educational program, services and extracurricular activities” as well as the depletion of reserve funding in districts across the state.

School district officials in both Bridgehampton and Sag Harbor regularly lament that the reduction in state aid has come at the same time as rising costs and the tax levy cap, a law enacted under Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2011 that limits school districts and other municipalities from raising property taxes by district-specific formulas that take into account variables like the Consumer Price Index.

“At a time when New York State has the dual goals of freezing property taxes and improving the quality of education, it is imperative that we provide a level of state funding that is equal to the task,” Assemblyman Thiele said in a press release on the bill.

In a statement taking a strong stance against the aid reduction, the Board of Cooperative Educational Services said, “Several years into the educational funding crisis, many school districts are finding that they have few options left to preserve programs and services that students and families count on.”

The amount taken from each school district is determined annually by a calculation that leans harder on wealthy districts, so suburban schools on Long Island and in the Hudson Valley are, in general, adversely affected by the reduction more than those in New York City.

Last year, Long Island enrolled 17 percent of New York’s students, but received only 12 percent of state aid for education.

“It’s more important to us than it is to the city school districts,” said Assemblyman Thiele. For suburban legislators from Long Island and the Hudson Valley, he said “the number-one priority for education for us is getting rid of the Gap Elimination Adjustment.”

In the 2013-14 school year, the Sag Harbor School District had some $241,000 in state aid taken away through the GEA, according School Business Administrator Jen Buscemi. This year, the district lost $171,395 in aid it otherwise would have received.

“The bottom line,” Assemblyman Thiele said, “is that this issue is going to get resolved one way or another as part of the school aid package that we do with the budget, that hopefully will be done  before April 1.”

In January, Governor Cuomo announced he would not release his school aid figures unless the legislature adopts his package of educational reforms. He agreed to grant an additional $1.1 billion, or 4.8 percent, in funding to New York’s schools if and only if the legislature passes his reforms, but threatened to limit that increase to 1.7 percent if they are not met.

PechaKucha Returns to the Parrish

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The Parrish Art Museum will present volume 11 of its popular PechaKucha Night Hamptons on Friday, March 6 at 6 p.m. with a group of speakers delivering rapid fire presentations on what it is to live creatively on the East End. Each speaker shows 20 slides for 20 seconds each, resulting in a compelling six-minute, 40-second long presentation.

PechaKucha Night Hamptons spotlights the staggering number of creative individuals who live on the East End,” said series organizer Andrea Grover, Century Arts Foundation Curator of Special Projects at the Parrish. “Their collective energy and inventiveness has made this program one of our main attractions.”

PechaKucha Night Hamptons, Vol. 11 presenters include writer and restaurateur Bruce Buschel; artist hi and lifestyle health coach and self-proclaimed “Kraut Kween” Nadia Ernestus; photographer Francine Fleischer; close-up magician and author Allan Kronzek; digital entrepreneurs Julie and Dan Resnick; artist Christine Sciulli; poet Julie Sheehan; and master beader and Shinnecock ceremonial dancer Tohanash Tarrant.

The Parrish Art Museum joins over 700 cities globally in hosting these events. Named for the sound of “chit-chat” in Japanese, PechaKucha Nights is the international, fast-paced presentation series founded in Tokyo by Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham of Klein Dytham architecture in 2003. Tickets for PechaKucha Night Hamptons Vol. 11 are currently sold out, however tickets may become available through the Parrish website (parrishart.org) this week. In addition, an in-person wait list will begin at 5pm on March 6th in the Museum lobby. Ticket prices are $10, free for members, children, and students, and include Museum admission.


Man Airlifted from Havens Beach

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A man was airlifted from Havens Beach in Sag Harbor after being injured in a fall at a construction site in North Haven. Photography by Gavin Menu. 

A man working construction in North Haven was medevaced to Stony Brook University Hospital on Friday morning after being injured in a fall.

At approximately 9 a.m. Friday morning a man working on a house at 19 South Harbor Drive “took a long fall and fell into a hole,” according to Sag Harbor Fire Chief Jim Frazier. He fell from over 10 feet, the chief said.

Rescue workers managed to carry the man out of the hole, the botton of which Chief Frazier said was frozen and hard.

“He was conscious but in a lot of pain,” Chief Frazier said, adding that he was not sure the extent of his injuries.

He was then transported to Havens Beach, where they were met with a helicopter which took off toward Stony Brook a little after 10 a.m.


Sag Harbor’s Ideal Stationery to Close Up Shop

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Terry and Gary Sanders are retiring next month after over two decades in business on Main Street. Photo by Michael Heller.

By Mara Certic

Gary and Terry Sanders, the husband and wife team who have owned and operated the Ideal Stationery on Main Street in Sag Harbor for more than two decades, have decided to close up shop and retire just two weeks shy of the 24th anniversary of the day they opened.

Sag Harborites woke up Saturday morning to a large sign advertising a retirement sale (our retirement – your sale) on the front of the store, which has served the village since 1863.

Mr. and Mrs. Sanders, who are the sixth owners of the 150-year-old business, say that they made the decision to retire about six months ago.

“Well, I convinced her six months ago,” Mr. Sanders said from behind the counter on Wednesday morning. The couple said they have enjoyed their time working in Sag Harbor but that they “have to move on,” and are getting ready to spend time with their three grandchildren Sophia, Cooper and Ava and perhaps going on a cross-country trip.

“It was almost like a party everyday,” Ms. Sanders said of the past two decades on Main Street.

“He loved being in his own business,” she said of her husband, who worked for a bank before buying the Ideal.

“I want to thank the community for the wonderful response they’ve had to our sign,” Ms. Sanders said Wednesday. There is a large sale going on at the store until the doors close on Saturday, March 7, and Ms. Sanders said when she arrived to work last Saturday there was a line of customers down the street.

The Sanders, who live in Southampton, met George Finckenor who sold them the building at 102 Main Street when he had the restaurant “The Beef Peddler” in Southampton.

“They were my best customers,” Mr. Finckenor said in a phone interview on Wednesday. Mr. Finckenor has lived in Boca Raton, Florida, since the early 1990s, after selling the Sanders the business, he said.

The Ideal Stationery, which first opened its doors in 1863 as more of a general store, has been in several different locations, according to Mr. Finckenor whose family owned the store from 1945 until he sold it to Mr. and Ms. Sanders.

The store has been at 102 Main Street since the early 1960s, Mr. Finckenor said, and was damaged by a fire on Memorial Day Weekend 1965.

Mr. and Mrs. Sanders this week negotiated a deal to lease out the storefront space, but the retailer who will be going in to that spot has requested of them to not name it yet. Mr. and Mrs. Sanders own the building, which has two apartments recently renovated by their three sons, Gary, Nick and Brett Sanders.

“If we hadn’t owned our own building, we wouldn’t have survived,” Ms. Sanders said.

“We strongly urge people to support local merchants,” her husband added. “It’s been a wonderful experience.” So wonderful, that the couple is even considering selling their house in Southampton, in order to find themselves somewhere to live in Sag Harbor.

After the store closes on March 7, the Sanders’ three sons (an architect and two builders) will get to work renovating the downstairs space before the new tenant comes in.

“It’s a family deal,” Mr. Sanders said.


Goats Perish In Barn Blaze

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Just after midnight on Friday morning, a barn in upstate Red Hook caught fire, killing all 100 of Larry and Ann Cihanek’s green goats, including Big Mama, Chocolate, Mocha and the other animals which spent their summer helping to control invasive weeds at Vineyard Field behind the South Fork Natural History Museum in Bridgehampton.

Mr. and Mrs. Cihanek lost not only their livelihood and future on Friday morning when the barn their goats spend the winter in burned down, but they also were forced to say goodbye to 100 animals they had bottle fed, named and to whom they had taught tricks and basic commands.

“This is the most devastating thing in our lives,” Mr. Cihanek said over the phone on Monday afternoon.

The Cihaneks run the company “Green Goats,” which during summer months loans out goats to various properties to help maintain the landscape in an environmentally friendly way. Last May, six of their animals made their way out to Bridgehampton to help rid Vineyard Field behind the South Fork Natural History Museum of troublesome weeds.

In the winter, the Cihaneks housed their goats in a barn on their property. Because of the exceptionally cold winter, the Cihaneks had to put heat lamps into the small milk room in order to keep the 15 new kids warm.

Although they are still not sure what caused the fire, Mr. Cihanek guessed that one of the kids managed to jump up high enough to knock over one of the heaters, which started the devastating fire.

“Everything was gone, everything. And for us, they’re not livestock, they’re pets,” Mr. Cihanek said.

Mr. Cihanek said he and his wife have been awe-struck and amazed by the outpouring of support since the fire—not only have friends offered to help clean up the site of the fire, but acquaintances and strangers have reached out to donate goats to the family, and the Cihaneks are determined to start over.

In addition to an old-fashioned barn raising, Mr. and Mrs. Cihanek will hold a fundraising dinner, and the couple’s daughter Tayler set up a fundraising page in order to help get her parents business back on track.

For more information about the Cihaneks, visit green-goats.com, or to donate money to their rebuilding efforts visit gofundme.com/rebuildourbarn.

Sag Harbor Students Invited to Speak Out

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Pierson students from 8th through 12th grades have been invited to tell local officials and community members exactly what it is they want at Bay Street Theater on Sunday, March 1 from 4 to 6 p.m. 

By Mara Certic

In an effort to zero in on what kids really want, Sag Harbor will give students in eighth through 12th grades the opportunity to speak their minds, make requests and ask questions to a panel of local figures and officials.

This Sunday, March 1, Sag Harbor’s third Student Speak Out will take place at Bay Street Theater. Students will have the chance at this parent-free event to freely ask questions of any of the 15 panelists, who will include Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Tom Fabiano, John Jermain Memorial Library director Cathy Creedon, Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman and Kathryn Menu, co-publisher of the Sag Harbor Express.

“It’s really about giving the kids the opportunity to create the future of Sag Harbor,” said Benito Vilá, director of the Sag Harbor Coalition and an organizer of Sunday’s event.

Mr. Vilá said that the village really needs an event like this “to try to figure out what kids want,” and also in order to pinpoint meaningful and fun group activities teens would enjoy and that would benefit their lives. Mr. Vilá approached Debbie Skinner, director of the Youth Resource Center (formerly YARD) about his idea to get kids to speak out, and was told it had been done twice before in the village.

What was once the Sag Harbor Youth Committee was responsible for the first Speak Out in 1997, according to Linley Pennebaker Whelan.

“At the time the first Speak Out came about, we were trying to make things available for the kids in the Sag Harbor community,” she said in a phone interview on Tuesday.

“We realized they all wanted different things. It was really quite interesting—we realized not to have parents there and that we should have people in authority who could listen to the kids and maybe make differences,” she said.

Another of these multi-generational conversations was organized for 2001. Out of those two dialogues came Rec night at the high school, beach night in the summer and “a bunch of other things,” according to Ms. Pennebaker Whelan.

“It’s important kids feel they have a community they have a say in,” she said. “It’s important because we want to be kid-friendly. And if it’s kid friendly, and you’re engaged, that’s how you have a good community.”

At past events, recreation has dominated conversations. This year, however, organizers think that discussions may be based more on affordability, and the dwindling places around town high school students can afford to eat or shop.

Bridgehampton Athletic Director and Pierson graduate Eric Bramoff will be moderating Sunday’s event.

“Sag Harbor is one of the most special places in the world,” he said on Tuesday, but as a child, he remembers feeling the need to fill a gap in the village.

“My philosophy is school should always be open and we need that programming,” he said.

Mr. Bramoff, and all of the panelists and organizers, are expecting 100 to attend on Sunday and continue to urge students to stop by for a chance to speak their minds, and have some free food.

“It’s very much like voting,” Mr. Bramoff said. “If you don’t vote then you don’t have a voice to complain about the problem. So in a way we’re giving them a voice and they should utilize it. I want the kids to come down and feel like they can speak openly, and tell us what they really want.”

Cold Winter Takes its Toll on East End Wildlife

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Swans, Canada Geese and baby deer have been particularly affected by the cold weather this year, as snow cover has limited their food source. Photo by Michael Heller. 

By Mara Certic

Watching swans can be a serene, almost ethereal, experience. Tuesday morning, however, a group of wildlife rescue volunteers spent several hours wracking their brains to figure out how to save an immobile swan in Sag Harbor Cove, before eventually allowing nature to take its course.

Volunteer Jane Gill said she got to the causeway on Redwood Road next to WLNG just after 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning when she spotted two sluggish-looking swans huddling on the ice, about 100 feet away from the shore.

The cove was frozen in spots but the ice wasn’t particularly thick, and Ms. Gill said she knew it was too dangerous to walk out onto the ice and that she couldn’t retrieve the bird.  She called Sag Harbor Village Police, who would not help her get to the birds, she said, and told her not to try herself.

One of the two swans was not moving, the other seemed more alert, but wasn’t leaving its mate’s side. Swans, like black vultures, and some other animals, mate for life and are known to go into deep depressions when their partners die.

Eventually the more mobile swan made its way off the ice and swam under the causeway, where it looked for food under water.

After much time was spent trying to find a kayak or canoe, the zoom lens on a camera showed that the stationary swan’s head appeared to be frozen under the water. The would-be rescuers decided it was too late to save the animal and any effort would only put one of their lives in danger.

The Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center in Hampton Bays keeps a flat-bottomed boat at its facility in Hampton Bays for this sort of situation, according to the president of the center, James Hunter.

According to Mr. Hunter, this winter has taken a heavy toll on the animals of the East End, in particular waterfowl. The center has had 11 animals brought in this week so far, and 124 since January 1.

“It hasn’t been good,” he said on Wednesday morning. “Long snow coverage here has denied them food, and the first muscle that deteriorates in a Canada Goose, say, is the wing muscle.” He said the center currently has dozens of the birds at its facility. They give the birds some “r&r” he said, and fatten them up before releasing them back over the water.

Healthy swans can go a month without eating, Mr. Hunter said, which suggests that the swan  that perished in Sag Harbor Cove this week was likely already ill.

“It could have been old age,” Mr. Hunter said, “Swans do die.”

By Tuesday evening, the dead swan’s mate had swam back toward the dead bird and appeared to be settling in there for the night.

“Clyborne Park” Opens March 12 At Hampton Theatre Company

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“Clybourne Park”—the wickedly funny and provocative play by Bruce Norris about how the different faces and shades of racism can make a straightforward real estate transaction anything but—will be the third production of the Hampton Theatre Company’s 30th anniversary season. The Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play opens on March 12 at the Quogue Community Hall and will run through March 29.

The two acts of “Clybourne Park” are in fact two separate plays set 50 years apart and spinning off Lorraine Hansberry’s landmark drama, “A Raisin in the Sun.” With a cast of seven taking on different roles in the play’s two halves, act one is set in 1959, as nervous community leaders anxiously try to stop the sale of a home to a black family. Act two is set in the same house in the present day, as the now predominantly African-American neighborhood battles to stand fast against the onslaught of gentrification.

Calling the play, which won the Olivier and Evening Standard awards for its London production, a “sharp-witted, sharp-toothed comedy of American uneasiness,” Ben Brantley wrote in The New York Times that “the very structure of ‘Clybourne Park’ posits the idea of a nation (and even a world) trapped in a societal purgatory of ineptitude and anxiety.”

The cast of “Clybourne Park” features four Hampton Theatre Company veterans and three newcomers. Matt Conlon was most recently on the Quogue stage in the fall in the role of Ellwood P. Dowd in “Harvey,” following his turn in the title role in “The Foreigner” last March. Joe Pallister, who also appeared in “The Foreigner,” was last on the Quogue stage in last spring’s production of “God of Carnage.”  Ben Schnickel is familiar to Hampton Theatre Company audiences from “The Foreigner,” as well as “The Drawer Boy,” “Becky’s New Car,” and “Rabbit Hole.” Returning to the Quogue stage for the first time since her appearance in “Desperate Affection,” Rebecca Edana first appeared with the HTC in the company’s revival of “Bedroom Farce.” Rounding out the cast and trailing extensive lists of New York and regional credits are Juanita Frederick, Shonn McCloud, and Anette Michelle Sanders. HTC Executive Director Sarah Hunnewell will direct.

“Clybourne Park” runs at the Quogue Community Hall from March 12 through 29, with shows on Thursdays and Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. Information is available at hamptontheatre.org. Tickets can also be purchased by calling 1 (866) 811-4111.


Sag Harbor School District Seeks Appraisal for Stella Maris Property

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The building that formerly housed the Stella Maris Regional School on Division Street in Sag Harbor. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz.

The building that formerly housed the Stella Maris Regional School on Division Street in Sag Harbor. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz.

By Tessa Raebeck

Four months after it was disclosed that the former Stella Maris Regional School on Division Street in Sag Harbor was on the market, the Sag Harbor School District has announced that it is seeking an appraisal of the site.

The board of education and district administrators have discussed the property at a number of executive sessions that are closed to the public since the property’s availability was announced, and are now taking the first step toward a public discussion of a possible purchase.

“At this point, we aren’t making any decisions of how we would utilize the property,” said Superintendent Katy Graves. “This is just a first, very initial step to take a look at the property and gather information about the property.”

The .74-acre property is listed for $3.5 million. It is zoned for offices or classrooms and owned by St. Andrew’s Roman Catholic Church, a parish of the Diocese of Rockville Centre. The one-story building is 32,234 square feet. The site is less than a mile from both Pierson Middle/High School and the Sag Harbor Elementary School.

“The Board of Education is in the process of engaging the services of appraisal firms for the purpose of gathering data. Once the firms have been hired and all of the facts, figures and use viability of the building have been gathered, the board will share the information with the Sag Harbor community for their full participation. Any decision regarding the property will involve strategic engagement with all stakeholders in the community,” the district said in a press release Tuesday.

Ms. Graves said the ultimate decision of whether or not to purchase the property “would really have to go to a vote” for district residents.

Although the purchase is far from a sure thing, the superintendent floated some ideas of how the property could be used.

“We do send children out for services elsewhere—some of our student population goes elsewhere at a very high cost to be serviced in other areas, so we’re always interested in keeping our children as close as possible,” she said, adding, “Those are all things we want to kind of analyze and share, but we don’t want to get our hopes up—this would only be if it really worked best for the community and it worked best for the school district.”

Specifically, some of Sag Harbor’s special needs students must travel to schools up-island to get the services they need, and students enrolled in career and technical education courses must go to BOCES facilities up-island. Ms. Graves said that in addition to the financial burden of transporting students to other schools and enrolling them elsewhere, not having those services in the district comes with the added cost of not having all of Sag Harbor’s schoolchildren close to home.

While technical education would likely remain at BOCES, special needs services could potentially be provided in-house if the district acquires more land. Other schools in the area are also sending special education students to far away schools, and Ms. Graves suggested that the acquisition of the Stella Maris property could be a way to explore sharing services with other districts—and thus saving costs.

“This is the initial, initial stage, but New York State is demanding of us now that we secure every opportunity for sharing services, that we find every opportunity under the tax cap to explore sharing personnel, explore every opportunity for cost saving,” said Ms. Graves. “In our community, we’re going to garner the services of appraisal firms to look at that property and get feedback that we can share with our community.”

“We aren’t making any moves as far as education without—we’re doing it hand in hand with the community and our stakeholders,” she added.

With an influx of students who pay tuition to attend Sag Harbor schools and a student population that has grown steadily over the past six years, the school district now has over 1,000 students, as well as over half a million dollars in revenue from tuition paying students.

In operation as a school for 134 years, Stella Maris was Long Island’s oldest Catholic school when it closed its doors in 2011 due to a $480,000 deficit. Parents at the school tried to fundraise to keep the school open, but were unsuccessful. Since the school closed, its building has been used occasionally for fundraisers and village police training, and has seen two unsuccessful attempts to open preschools on the property.

Sag Harbor School District Proposes Technology, Transportation, Benefits Budget

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By Tessa Raebeck

A month before the entire 2015-16 budget is to be reviewed, Sag Harbor School District administrators presented technology, debt service, employee benefits and transportation components to the board of education on Monday.

With “no additional items that we haven’t had in previous budgets,” according to Technology Director Scott Fisher, the technology budget is proposed at slightly over $1 million, up by nearly 12 percent from the 2014-15 budget, which was just above $932,000.

“As you all know,” Mr. Fisher told the board, “the role of technology has expanded here exponentially in the past years…essentially everybody in the district is somehow impacted by the technology support.”

The technology department is looking to bring in additional support staff and to continue its upgrading, replenishment and purchasing of computer and wireless systems and supplies. Proposed increases of $18,650 at the Sag Harbor Elementary School and $15,200 at Pierson Middle/High School will account for the purchase of additional laptops and Chromebooks, low-cost computers that are popular in classrooms.

The transportation budget, computed by School Business Administrator Jennifer Buscemi and Head Bus Driver Maude Stephens, who was not at Monday’s meeting, would increase by just about $51,000, or 6.83 percent, to about $802,000, due in large part to a proposed bus purchase.

“Right now, all of our buses are being utilized and we don’t even have a spare bus,” said Ms. Buscemi, adding that the state Education Department recommends school districts have at least one spare.

Buying a new large bus would cost the district $102,000 up front. Another option, Ms. Buscemi said, would be to finance the bus over a 10-year period, a decision that would require the district to budget $13,000 a year for the next decade. School buses have an expected life of about 15 years, she added.

Chris Tice, vice president of the school board, said it would be practical to finance the bus purchase due to low interest rates and because “we have such a phenomenal bond rating,” as Moody’s Investors Service upgraded the district’s bond rating from A1 to Aa3 last May.

The employee benefits component of the budget, an area that usually shows large, unavoidable increases, is actually expected to decrease for the 2015-16 school year, due to a reduction in the percentage school districts must contribute to retirement costs.

The Teacher’s Retirement System (TRS) is recommending an employer contribution rate of about 13 percent for the 2015-16 school year, while that rate was much higher, at over 17 percent, for this school year, 2014-15. The employees are not receiving less in benefits, due to the change, rather, school districts are being required to contribute a smaller amount needed for the system to be able to pay out the required amount in benefits.

“That reduction of $518,000 is going to eat up a lot of the increases in the other areas,” Ms. Buscemi said, adding, “This is probably the first time in a long time that you’re going to see a decrease in that employee benefit and I’m hoping that that continues.”

The total projected employee benefits budget for next year is around $9.3 million, a decrease of $128,125, or 1.35 percent, from this year’s budget.

The debt services budget is also proposed to decrease, going down by about $29,000, or 2.48 percent, to a projected total of over $1.5 million. That projection is in part based on historically low interest rates.

With many of the rates needed to compute the budget not yet available, Ms. Buscemi had to estimate on some of the budget items, usually anticipating an increase of 3 percent.

“There are definitely areas here—that I’ve gone through in the past budget workshops and today—that we could cut if we had to,” Ms. Buscemi said, using the proposed school bus purchase as an example.

The preliminary numbers, Ms. Buscemi told the board, suggest the school district is in a very good position for the budget season and will “be able to maintain everything this year.”

The state aid numbers, which show New York’s school districts how much money they can expect from the state, have still not been released by Governor Andrew Cuomo and are expected to remain in political limbo for some time. The governor has said he will not release his education budget until the divided State Legislature approves all of his proposed educational reforms, many of which are controversial.