The Northport-East Northport Board of Education directed the superintendent to factor $1.9 million in capital projects into the 2013-2014 budget on Tuesday.
The district's Operations and Maintenance Committee recommended six projects to be done in 2013-2014 totaling $2.6 million. Superintendent Marylou McDermott recommended that the board consider including funding for four of those projects based upon priority.
The priority projects include: 1. replacement of concrete in all building sidewalks, curbing, retaining walls, and at the Northport High School front entrance, 2. reappointment of brick work at the Ocean Avenue School, 3. upgrading electrical service at the Ocean Avenue School, 4. replacement of the kitchen ceiling at Northport Middle, 5. replacement of lockers and ceilings in locker rooms at East Northport Middle, 6. replacement of the L-wing corridor windows at Northport High School.
Even though the six projects total $1.4 million, the board approved $1.9 million consisting of an $800,000 interfund transfer and of funds remaining in the 2008 and 1997 reserves.
Assistant Superintendent for Business Kathleen Molander explained, "The $800,000 interfund transfer is a line item in the budget. When you start to reduce that line item, it becomes difficult in following years to increase that line item, especially when we're living under the limits of the two percent tax cap....Using reserves, like you would a savings account, once the money is gone, it's gone."
Trustee Badanes clarified, "Putting that extra $500,000 in, we are in a sense funding the savings account, as i like to call it, so we may have that money in the future to make future capital improvements."
A seventh priority project--refurbishing heating and ventilation systems district-wide--may be included in the district's energy performance contract.
The district is working within an estimated 2.75 percent to 3.5 percent tax levy limit. Though, the district does not yet know what the allowable limit is, Molander predicted that it would fall on the lower side of the range.
"My inclination is that its going to be closer to the lower end of the range, primarily due to the possible weak funding of the bonds, as well as what capital projects would be selected," she said. "Knowing whether the board intends to do capital projects in 2013-2014, does play into that calculation."
Superintendent McDermottt presented three preliminary budget scenarios based upon the board's Jan. 28 direction to create a $158.7 million 2013-2014 budget, representing a 3.1 percent increase from the prior year.
Approximately $1.7 million in cuts were required for the first budget scenario, achieved through the retirements of 16 teachers and decreased enrollment.
A second budget scenarios included an additional $1.7 million in cuts. These additional savings, McDermott said, could be achieved by maximizing the class size caps and eliminating AIS summer school.
The next regular board of education meeting is March 4 at which time the board will discuss employee salaries and benefits within the preliminary budget.