Springs: Early Talks Project $29.9 Million Budget

The Springs School District is projecting a $1.067 million increase in its budget for the 2019-20 school year over this year, its business administrator, Michael Henery, told the school board during its second budget workshop meeting on Monday.

Mr. Henery said the biggest portion of the budget’s growth is due to wage and salary increases contained in newly renegotiated contracts with teachers and custodians. The school also pays an outside contractor for school bus service because of a shortage of drivers. That cost is projected to rise 8.5 percent next year.

The district is also budgeting for a decrease of $34,000 in charter school transitional aid from the state. “That is a big hit for us,” said the superintendent, Debra Winter.

As a result, Mr. Henery said, the preliminary budget he presented Monday would require a 3.25-percent tax levy increase, the maximum allowable. The Springs School has never exceeded the state-mandated cap, Mr. Henery said, and the district does not expect to do so next year, even if the budget is expected to increase from $28.8 million to $29.94 million for 2019-20.

“To achieve these goals with our limited revenue sources is, to say the least, challenging,” Mr. Henery told the board. “We’re trying to shave where we can.”

Looking forward, Ms. Winter said the school district also wants to realize future budget savings when it is able to renegotiate the amount it pays to send students to East Hampton High School. That contract expires next year. 

Ms. Winter said she and the board president, Barbara Dayton, already have been in ongoing conversations with the East Hampton district’s current leadership about reducing the nonresident tuition rate that East Hampton charges the Springs district to send its high school-age students there. The Springs School has only kindergarten through eighth-grade students. Its prekindergartners attend a half-day program at the Eleanor Whitmore Early Childhood Center.

Ms. Winter said she would not rule out approaching the Bridgehampton or Sag Harbor School Districts about taking Springs students if talks with East Hampton do not result in the savings the Springs district would like. She said the district is also exploring if it qualifies to have its costs reduced under the state’s Seneca Falls formula, which allows districts to calculate the nonresident per-pupil charge based on the cost of educating a student over their kindergarten through 12th-grade years. Such districts around the state see savings of as much as 5 to 15 percent, Ms. Winter said.