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Amagansett School Gets Ready for New Arrivals

Wed, 02/05/2020 - 19:19

The Amagansett School is building its 2020-2021 budget around the possibility that 30 new students will arrive — 15 in the school itself and 15 older children in the East Hampton School District — once the Gansett Meadow affordable housing complex just down the road is completed.     

“This year it’s going to be a little tighter budget because of the new additions,” said Thomas Mager, the school business administrator, at a meeting of the school board on Tuesday.     

A draft of Amagansett’s proposed budget shows approximately $99,555 for students attending seventh grade and up. It also includes money to hire another teacher and teaching assistant in the school itself.     

“We are not going to fill those positions until the students arrive and we have a need,” Seth Turner, the superintendent, said. “At the start of the school year, if we have to make an adjustment, we have at least budgeted for it.”     

Amagansett now has 72 children in prekindergarten through sixth grade and 60 more at the secondary level in other schools, Mr. Turner reported. Like the Springs and Montauk schools, it is negotiating tuition rates with East Hampton, so projections may change before the budget is finalized.     

The proposal is for $11.4 million, up from this year’s $10.9 million spending plan. The district is planning to add just under $700,000 of surplus money back into the budget to offset the increases, though that may also change as budget season unfolds. Doing that, officials explained, will allow the district to keep its tax levy increase within the state-mandated limits. For Amagansett, that limit is 2.66 percent.     

“All changes within the budget were based on need,” Mr. Mager said. “We reduced some lines, took out some old lines, and added to where historically we’ve overspent or spent very close to the budget.”     

Mr. Turner said there would likely be at least two other propositions on the May 19 ballot, one asking voters to approve the purchase of a new school bus to replace an aging one, and another to approve a plan to revamp the playground and renovate the outdoor basketball court. Those items have only rough cost estimates so far — up to $300,000 for the playground and $100,000 for the basketball court — but Mr. Mager said there is already enough money in the district’s capital reserve to cover them. Voter approval is required for a district to tap into a capital reserve fund.     

Also on Tuesday, the school board adopted the district’s first-ever nonresident student policy. Nonresident students are a hot topic among South Fork schools these days, with families here sometimes deciding to pay out of pocket for their children to attend a school out of their district. That tuition money becomes revenue for the school they choose.     

The Amagansett School Board set the district’s nonresident tuition rate at $12,419. By comparison, the Bridgehampton School District’s rate is $6,000 for students in the sixth grade and below. In Sag Harbor, nonresident tuition is $7,414 for prekindergarten and $19,277 for kindergarten through sixth grade.


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