The Patchogue-Medford School District has a proposed 2021-22 budget of $198,935,170, which is an increase of $3,762,589, or 1.93 percent, over the 2020-21 school year budget.
“One of the things that stands out in the budget, in the midst of a pandemic that has affected us all in so many challenging ways, you can still see evidence of vibrancy and learning and activities and us rising above the challenge to ensure the children have a quality education as best as we can offer,” said superintendent of schools Donna Jones. “There is an equity lens embedded in everything, uplifting and supporting all children.”
The budget also includes estimated state aid at about $64,731,575, down from last year’s over $70.5 million. However, other sources of revenue, including BOCES refunds, refunds of expenses, property taxes, donations and federal reimbursements, increased from $6.4 million to about $13 million. The proposed property tax and STAR budgeted amount went from $116,159,331 to $119,129,254. Appropriated reserves were maintained at $2 million. The district anticipates receiving additional state aid of approximately $4 million, of which the district plans to use $2 million to replenish amounts appropriated from reserve funds which were used to balance the 2021-22 budget, and the balance to be transferred to the capital reserve to be used for future projects.
There will be one additional proposition on the ballot including the authorization to reallocate funds in the amount of $1.1 million in unexpended funds from previously approved measures for the purpose of purchasing portable classrooms at Bay Elementary School from the 2019-20 school year. The request is to use the funds for the purpose of univent replacements at South Ocean Middle School and/or the Career and Technical Education modifications at the high school without incurring any additional charges to the taxpayer.
The district also highlighted several improvements, including the deployment of over 5,000 laptop devices to students K-12, Wi-Fi solutions, digitized print requests, cameras on the football field, 100 distributed hotspots to provide children with internet access at home, 200 new teacher laptops and upgraded cybersecurity. Capital improvements include new windows at Oregon Middle School, renovated CTE classroom, new LED electronic signs at all schools, and an upgraded fire alarm system at the high school.
Within the proposed budget, the district is considering the hiring of a mental health coordinator at the family center and five new teaching assistants for the special education department, as well as an instructional technology support consultant and six new teachers to provide academic intervention services in math.
“I am very proud that this budget contains a lot of social and emotional and mental support for children,” Jones continued.
There are no proposed staff reductions and the budget does not pierce the tax cap.
The district received about $7.4 million from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act and another $16.1 million from the American Rescue Plan Act, which will be use through September 2024. Discussions will be held to explore ventilation upgrades, Jones said, though they need more planning time to do so.
“We didn’t want to make any rushed decisions,” she said. “We are also looking into summer school for all at-risk children at every single building.”
The budget vote and board of education election will be held on Tuesday, May 18 at coordinating polling locations. The budget hearing will be held tonight, Thursday, May 6 at 7 p.m. at Saxton Middle School. For more information, contact the district clerk at 631-687-6370.