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Story - Education

May 1, 2009 12:45 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

East Quogue School Board adopts $21 million budget

May 1, 2009 12:45 PM

The East Quogue School Board adopted its $21 million 2009-10 budget during its monthly meeting on April 22, a spending plan that carries a 3.6-percent increase from the current year.

The district tax rate is expected to increase 2.9 percent from the current school year. Using those figures, taxpayers can expect to pay $8.52 per $1,000 of assessed value, up 24 cents from $8.28 per $1,000 in 2008-09. That means that the owner of a home assessed at $500,000 can expect to pay about $4,260 in taxes next year, a $120 increase from the current year.

East Quogue Superintendent Les Black said during last week’s meeting that the district worked to keep spending down by maintaining programs instead of creating new initiatives. “It’s a balancing act,” he said.

Mr. Black explained that the bump up in spending is mainly due to contractual increases, such as a jump in the cost of fuel oil. “There are factors we have no control over,” he said.

District taxpayers can voice their opinions on the adopted budget during a meeting at the East Quogue Elementary School scheduled to begin at 7:45 p.m. on Tuesday, May 5. Voters can cast their ballots on next year’s budget at the elementary school on Tuesday, May 19, from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m.

Mr. Black said on Tuesday that the district is trying to assemble an early retirement incentive package for veteran teachers. He said the deal could require three or four teachers, who are now each making about $100,000 a year, to retire early and receive a bonus for doing so. In turn, the district could hire new teachers for about $42,000 a year, depending on their level of education, and help reduce overall spending, according to Mr. Black.

The superintendent added that, if accepted, the retirement package could reduce next year’s projected spending increase to under 3 percent.

In other news, East Quogue Civic Association member Zachary Starr asked the School Board to explain why, according to the school’s New York State report card, East Quogue pays an average of $88,000 per pupil for special education, more than double that of any of the neighboring districts.

Mr. Black explained that the formula that the state used to derive that number was wrong and did not take into account East Quogue students attending the Westhampton Beach School District and receiving special education. When the total amount spent on special education is divided by the total number of students in the district receiving those services, the number is much lower, according to the superintendent.

“It’s actually in the $30,000 range,” Mr. Black said. “We were just as concerned as you are.”

The superintendent added that the school has already contacted New York State and expects an answer shortly.

“I’d like to see their response,” Mr. Starr said.

Mr. Black assured him that the district would share the state’s response when it was made available.

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Any increase in the budget, no matter how small, is unexceptable during these difficult economic times. Hopefully the residents vote NO, and the board gets the message-SPEND LESS. Under $20,000,000 sounds like a good number.
By Lefty46 (56), Westhampton on Apr 23, 09 8:41 PM
This or any increase is absolutely unacceptable .We pay far too much already. Only about 10% of the East Quogue residents actually even have a child going to a local school anyway. What are we really paying for besides pensions and health insurance etc. Doesn't anyone realize that 50% of the money doesn't go to the kids? It's always been a bad deal and continues to get worse and worse apparently the greed continues even in these tough economic times.....
By pmofo (37), East Quogue on Apr 24, 09 12:40 PM
If the budget gets defeated at election time they just have a new election a few weeks later and it then usually gets approved . Total B.S. !
By PrivateerMatt (390), Weesuck Creek , EQ on Apr 25, 09 1:31 PM
Lefty, the way the E.Q. school board handles "difficult economic times" is by a token reduction in the percentage increase of the annual budget. Of course, it's still a spending increase any way you slice it. They have no clue about words like "recession" and "cutbacks", so don't count on them getting the message anytime soon. Also don't count on the needed "NO" vote from those who've been snowed by them year after year. Bottom line: bend over once again, East Quogue. Your illustrious school board ...more
By LIGuy (5), East Quogue on Apr 29, 09 11:19 AM
While a strong supporter of public education, I truly believe in these economic times restraint in spending would be wise. Everything should be on the table for cutbacks, including: bus service - parents walk or drive your kids to school, form carpools, organize group walks. Parents should also volunteer to be teachers aides and eliminate that expense from the budget. For all the parents that vote yes on the budget they should put their time where their mouths are and step up to the plate. I ...more
By pdoff (1), east quogue on Apr 29, 09 12:42 PM
I would like someone to explain the after school homework program. It apears that this is for many children who parents work and pick them up after. IIs this program paid for by the parents or all taxpayers? Also I see that Target donated almost $4000.00 to the E.Q.School. What fund does this go into? I wish I could attend the open meeting May 5th. but Westhampton Beach is having open house the same night. cclorox (East Quogue)
By Carol (109), East Quogue on Apr 30, 09 12:46 PM