Proposed school budget up 16.2 percent in Wainscott

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The Wainscott School Board unanimously adopted a $3.09 million proposed spending plan for the 2008-2009 school year on April 16, an increase of 16.2 percent over the current budget.

If approved by Wainscott School District voters on May 20, the budget would carry an expected 3.5-percent increase in the property tax rate—which is the lowest of all school districts in East Hampton—from $16.18 to $16.75 per $100 of assessed value.

The budget proposal was approved in a 3-0 vote by school board members Nancy McCaffrey, David Eagan, and Iris Osborn.

Tuition payment to the East Hampton School District—where students from Wainscott go for grades four through high school—is by far the largest single expenditure in the budget. It is proposed to rise 23.6 percent from $1,320,247 to $1,631,297.

This year, East Hampton is adopting the statewide “Seneca Falls” formula for calculating tuition charges for the five districts in town that send students to East Hampton schools. The change hikes the amount taxpayers from those districts have to pay per student from $16,782 to $21,526 for seventh through 12th-graders, and from $10,607 to $15,751 for kindergartners through sixth-graders.

In a letter to district taxpayers last week, Wainscott School Board members wrote that, because of “cost-saving measures, reassessment of our reserve balance, and unexpected savings” in last year’s school building project, the district was able to use $570,000 from its reserve fund balance and apply it as revenue in order reduce the amount to be raised by taxation for the proposed budget.

Speaking about the proposed budget at a Wainscott Citizens Advisory Committee meeting on May 3, Wainscott School District Superintendant Dominic Annacone said that the construction of the new school cost $300,000 less than the $1.3 million expected. Although he did not know what specific elements of the project came in under budget, Dr. Annacone said that Trustee Eagan had saved the district money by volunteering his time to work as a clerk of the works for the project.

Combined salaries for the school’s two full-time teachers and part-time teaching assistant are proposed to decrease from $191,412 to $185,114.

Dr. Annacone said the majority of the decrease is due to Dorry Silvey’s decision to no longer assume certain administrative responsibilities as head teacher, which means she will no longer receive a $5,000 stipend. Dr. Annacone, who works part-time as the superintendant, will take over what were formerly her responsibilities, and his salary is proposed to increase from $33,000 to $39,320.

Besides passing the proposed budget, the Wainscott School Board unanimously approved an agreement with the East Hampton School District which commits the district to sending students to East Hampton for another five years.

Andrew Bielak

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