Sag Harbor School Board Presented with $45 Million Draft Budget

Pierson Middle-High School.

The Sag Harbor School Board of Education was presented with a draft $45 million budget for the 2020-21 school year at its February 10 business meeting, although school business administrator Laurie Baum cautioned it was just a draft and that figure would likely decrease at the board workshops the new spending plan.

“Many of the numbers within the budget are estimates,” she said, adding that contractual negotiations are taking place currently, and the district is waiting on additional information regarding certain expenditures and funding from New York State.

The voter approved 2019-20 budget was $42,885,375, making the draft budget larger by $2.16 million at $45,051,817. Increases include a 12.3 percent jump in administration and program support, from $2.46 million to $2.77 million, largely due to cyber security and related costs to the cyber-attack the district contended with late last year. Student programs are also proposed to increase from $25.16 million to $26.34 million and employee benefit costs are drafted to rise from $10.13 million to $11.08 million.

The tax levy, or the amount of money the district will need to raise through property taxes, is drafted at 3.0686 percent to $39.87 million, down from the approved 4.562 percent levy for 2019-20.

“We put in our best guess on a lot of the expenditures because at this point, we don’t know what some of those costs are going to be,” Ms. Baum said of the numbers. “This is draft number one. It’s probably at the highest you’ll ever see it from this point on. It’s a work in progress.” 

Ms. Baum added that in terms of revenues, the district expects to see a decrease in non-resident tuition with other districts considering schools in addition to the Sag Harbor School District as alternatives. The Sagaponack School Board recently voted to pursue a contract that would allow students in grades four through 12 select Bridgehampton has a choice for school. It already has a contract with the East Hampton and Sag Harbor school districts. In addition, she said Amagansett will be opening its doors to non-resident students.

“Between both of those, Sag Harbor expects to see a decrease in tuition,” Ms. Baum said.   

Board member Chris Tice asked if Ms. Baum had a sense of how much money would be left over at the end of the 2019-20 school year. Ms. Baum said she doesn’t believe there will be extra money left over this year to roll over into the next as there has been in past years.  

The next budget workshop will be held on Thursday, February 27 at 6:30 p.m. in the Pierson Middle-High School library. Ms. Baum will go over an updated draft budget including the individual budgets for BOCES, special education, technology, and both primary and secondary instruction.  

On Monday, March 16 at 6:30 p.m., Ms. Baum and the BOE will go over the budget and how it relates to athletics, buildings and ground, security, and transportation.  On Monday, March 30, at 6:30 p.m., an updated draft including administration- BOE, central office, legal, audit and public information- employee benefits, debt service and transfers, reserves, revenues, tax levy impact will be discussed.  On Tuesday, April 21 at 6:30 p.m., the BOE will review the final budget, and adopt the 2020-21 budget for the May 19 vote in addition to adopting the property tax report card.  On Monday, May 11 at 6:30 p.m., the BOE will host a budget hearing and business meeting.  

The budget and school board vote will take place on Tuesday, May 19 in the Pierson Middle-High School gymnasium.