Wainscott budget inches up; McCaffrey runs unopposed

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The Wainscott School District is using $845,000 of its fund balance to offset increased tuition payments to the East Hampton School for the 2010-11 school year.

The two-classroom schoolhouse, which this year served 22 students, is putting a $3.56 million budget up before voters on Tuesday.

Though that represents a 7-percent spending increase, the fund balance appropriation has limited the tax increase to 0.7 percent.

Superintendent Dominic Annacone has warned that after a large fund balance appropriation this year, there would be little money left in reserve to offset tax increases next year.

He said that East Hampton’s tuition rate, which was about $26,000 per student when last calculated for the 2008-09 school year, is the maximum amount that the state allows.

“We all think this is going to look like $30,000 this year,” he said of the estimated back tuition that East Hampton has not yet calculated for this year. “We’re disappointed that East Hampton is using the maximum amount.”

The district is anticipating a $206,000 hike in tuition next year, in addition to $269,777 in back tuition for 2008-09. Overall, 54 percent of Wainscott’s budget, or $1.9 million, is spent to send students in fourth through 12th grades to East Hampton.

Despite the district’s difficulties, school taxes in Wainscott are the lowest in East Hampton Town. Next year’s tax rate is projected to be $17.47 per $100 of assessed valuation, up from $17.35 last year.

Residents whose houses are valued at $5,000 can expect to pay $87.35 if the proposed budget is adopted, while residents whose houses are valued at $10,000 can expect to pay $174.70 in school taxes. East Hampton’s assessments are not based on the full value of properties.

The vote will be held at the Wainscott School, 47 Main Street in Wainscott, from 5 to 8 p.m.

School Board President Nancy McCaffrey will be the only candidate seeking reelection to a third three-year term on the three-member board.

Ms. McCaffrey was the Wainscott District Clerk for 40 years beginning in 1961. She was a member of the East Hampton Town Board between 1990 and 1997. She was elected to the School Board in 2004.

“I think it’s just a wonderful school,” said Ms. McCaffrey, whose husband and grandchildren attended the school. “It’s like getting a private education in a public school.”

Ms. McCaffrey said that the most pressing issue facing the district is East Hampton’s skyrocketing tuition costs.

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