Port Jefferson School District
With the final voters leaving the polling stations at the stroke of 9 p.m., the Port Jefferson School District residents passed the $43,936,166 2019-20 budget with 559 for and 160 against.
In addition to the vote, the second proposition to use $3.6 million in funds from the capital reserve fund for high school roof repairs passed 591 to 125.
The new budget is a 0.11 percent increase from last year’s budget, and the tax levy, the amount of funds the district raises from taxes, has also gone up to $36,898,824, a $464,354 and 1.27 percent increase from last year, staying directly at the 1.27 percent tax cap. Officials have said they had a lower tax cap this year due to a reduction in capital projects funded by general appropriations.
“I have two words, thank you,” said Superintendent Paul Casciano. This will be the last budget overseen by the Casciano, as his position will be filled by incoming superintendent Jessica Schmettan in October. “The board and administration worked hard to make a budget the public would be receptive to, and apparently we were.”
The district has slashed and consolidated a number of items, including professional development for staff, private transportation allocation and a $142,000 reduction through scheduling and enrollment efficiencies for staff. The district has also cut the teacher’s retirement system by $25,000 and staff retirement system by $60,000. The biggest increases in the budget came from health insurance for staff, increasing by approximately $555,580, and benefits, which increased by $408,480.
The district also plans to use $400,000 in the general fund budget to relocate the middle school office into an existing upstairs science classroom for what district officials said was security reasons.
District keeps two incumbents, elects one newcomer
Much less controversial than last year’s election, Port Jefferson residents decided to keep two current members of the board and vote in one newcomer.
Incumbent trustee Ellen Boehm, a seven-year member of the board, was again asked to take her seat securing 521 of the votes.
“I’m pleased with the positive confidence of the residents in Port Jefferson,” she said.
Ryan Biedenkapp, who had been appointed to the board to replace resigned board member Adam DeWitt, was elected to the board to serve out the rest of DeWitt’s term, ending June 30, 2020. His seat will be up for election come that time. Biedenkapp was sworn in for the first time the night of the election.
“I’m honored the town saw fit to bring me back,” Biedenkapp said. “I look forward to serving the kids, all of the kids.”
Newcomer Randi DeWitt, a teacher at Mount Sinai Elementary School, will be taking the post as board member thanks to a vote of 473.
“I thank the community for their belief in me, and I look forward to working with the rest of the board members,” she said.
Mia Farina was the last candidate standing, securing only 291 votes. She said she plans to run again for the board next year as well.
“I just wanted to thank everyone who supported and voted for me even though I did not make the board this time,” Farina said in a Facebook post. “I have made so many new friends and learned so much through this campaign. So many people have helped and supported me with inspiring words.”
Comsewogue Union Free School District
Comsewogue school district voters resoundingly passed its 2019-20 budget with a vote of 660 to 152.
The district’s second proposition to create a capital reserve fund also passed with high margins, 656 to 150.
The new budget of $93,974,755 is an increase of $2,027,025 from last year and includes a $57,279,755, a 2.2 percent increase from last year and below this year’s tax levy cap of 3 percent.
“The budget passed by 81 percent, the highest margin it has ever been at Comsewogue,” Superintendent Joe Rella said. “I just want to thank the community from the bottom of my heart for supporting us.”
One increase came in the form of pupil personnel services from $3,322,061 to $3,678,447. PPL aids students with special needs.
While the district experienced a total enrollment decline of 40 students, the number of students with special needs has increased, according to the assistant superintendent, and each of those young people is more expensive overall than a typical student. In addition, the district is hiring one additional social worker and a new social worker teacher’s assistant.
Other major increases include a 27 percent and $696,209 increase in debt services, but this is offset slightly by a $570,000 or 33 percent decrease in interfund transfers.
Meanwhile, the district is going ahead with the first phase of its bond project; bids were scheduled to go out to companies in April. District voters approved the $32 million bond last year, which the district said would go up in several phases. The first phase, costing about $5.8 million, will complete work on the parking lots at the Boyle Road Elementary School and the Terryville Elementary School, along with the creation of security vestibules in all school buildings and adding new locks to doors throughout the high school building.
District re-elects incumbents
Being uncontested, current trustees Robert DeStefano and Francisca Alabau-Blatter maintained their seats.