Schools look to improve campus with new budget

Schools look to improve campus with new budget

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Shoreham-Wading River High School will undergo several projects to improve the facility by 2017. File photo

Shoreham-Wading River residents may see an increase in their taxes next year if the school district’s 2016-17 budget is approved.

Last week, the Shoreham-Wading River school district proposed the first part of its $71.9 million budget. Taxes will increase by 4.96 percent for those living in the district, according to Superintendent of Schools Steven Cohen.

The budget will target old and new projects that the district must complete before the end of June 2017. The district hopes to establish, renovate or replace aspects of the campus, like renovating the varsity softball field, building a scoreboard at the high school turf field and add two bathrooms in the high school. A sprinkler system for the high school soccer and field hockey fields are also among the newer projects.

The SWR district will continue with older projects from this academic year, which include plans for a disaster-recovery system for district data and replacing two overhead garage doors in the school’s maintenance garage.

Cohen added that the district will receive additional financial support to fund an AP Capstone program for the high-schoolers, decrease English class sizes to help administrators teach more effectively, organize field trips and establish an English as a New Language course.

“These are curriculum and instructional additions that we have included in this budget, and they are meant to keep the momentum going that we have developed over the last several years,” Cohen said during the budget presentation.

Last May, the board of education established plans for a new turf field, which was completed earlier this year. The project was part of the board’s initiative to improve the campus facilities. Cohen wants to continue improving the field by adding bleachers, which will offer ample seating for large events like graduations.

The SWR district budgeted to receive $10.5 million in state aid to fund these projects. Despite the statewide 0.12 percent tax cap, the district doesn’t plan on piercing it, unlike some other districts in New York state. According to state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli (D), 6 percent — or 36 out of 601 — school districts that have reported their proposed budgets pierced the cap as of March 2. Only 3.5 percent of districts voted to pierce the cap last year. In a press release the comptroller added, “School districts are feeling the impact of a historically low tax levy limit.”

But for Shoreham-Wading River, the cap didn’t disrupt the superintendent’s plans to better the campus.

“The heart and soul of what we are proposing this year is to really explain and start to provide the resources to pay for all the construction that’s going on,” Cohen said. “This is an idea that we talked about at great length last year in preparation for the community vote on the bond project, and now [these are the details for] providing the resources for all that work.”