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New Buses, No Layoffs Among East Hampton Budget Highlights

Thu, 04/14/2022 - 11:28
The East Hampton School Board met on Tuesday.
Christine Sampson

A deep dive into expenses and revenues over the last four months culminated Tuesday night in the East Hampton School Board’s adoption of a $76.5-million budget plan for the 2022-23 school year.

The proposed budget adheres to New York State’s rules for tax-levy increases, with a 1.75-percent increase, for the tenth time over the 11 years that the tax cap has been in place. The district will need a simple majority of voter approval on May 17 for the budget to pass.

“We worked really, really hard to maintain our current programs. . . . We were very, very lucky. It was pretty tight,” Adam Fine, the district superintendent, said during Tuesday’s school board meeting.

Year over year, the district is proposing an overall spending increase of 1.79 percent, or about $1.34 million.

There will not be any teacher or employee layoffs, as there have been in years past. A notable expense is $350,000 in the budget for the purchase of new school buses. Where utilities come into play, the district’s investment into solar energy is paying off — savings in the thousands will offset rising costs in other areas.

A separate proposition on the budget ballot will seek permission for the district to establish a savings account strictly for equipment and facility repairs that would be funded by year-end surplus funds.

When asked about future budget sustainability, J.P. Foster, the school board president, said school enrollment and economic inflation would come into play. Ideally, he said, the district would be enhancing education with new programs and services, but right now, it is status quo while conditions fluctuate.

“I think enrollment can really turn us upside-down. It can make us flush, or it can make us underwater,” Mr. Foster said. “I don’t think anybody has experienced inflation like this in 40 years, so I don’t know where the tax cap will take us. It’s too early to tell. I think we’ve done some good budget structuring over the years and tried to be as transparent as possible. But at the same time, there are a lot of unknowns.”

Information on absentee balloting is posted on the school website. Kerri Stevens, the district clerk, explained that Covid-19 is once again a qualified reason why voters can request an absentee ballot.

Nominating petitions for school board candidates are due on Monday at 5 p.m.

 

Latinx Students Lauded

Four East Hampton High School juniors attended the recent Puerto Rican Hispanic Youth Leadership Institute, learning about government policies and procedures, social issues, and the legal

system. The program is meant to encourage and develop civic engagement, political participation, and critical thinking among Latinx youth.

Representing East Hampton in the program were Silvia Gomez, Odalys Viscarra, and Nicole Velez, along with Raymond Siguencia, who earned the Outstanding Regional Delegate Award and will travel to the national conference in Washington, D.C., in June. The four students received a hearty round of applause from the school board and community members on Tuesday night.

 


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