BELLPORT

South Country proposes budget at levy

$5 increase per month for average taxpayer

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The proposed 2021-22 South Country school budget was adopted with no cuts to programming. However, due to decline in enrollment, not due to funding, the staff was cut by about 29.

“We were headed into a very difficult budget cycle this year,” said Dr. Joseph Giani, referencing the about $14 million gap pre-federal funding due to expenditures. “I am thankful for [the federal funding] and to be able to keep programs where they are without having to make any drastic reductions.”

In total, the South Country Central School District received about $3.9 million in CRRSA funding and $9 million in American Rescue Plan federal funding. The money was used to invest in resources for in-person learning, PPE, social distancing, avoiding layoffs, implementing strategies for social, emotional and mental health, funding summer and afterschool programs, hiring additional nurses and custodial staff, bus safety protocols and WiFi hotspots. The money will be used over the course of three years, Giani noted, in an effort to maintain stability.

Class size guidelines of 25 was preserved, with class sizes projected to range between 18 to 24. There were no changes in fine and performing arts or interscholastic athletic programming. The district was also able to maintain continued support in K-12 intervention programs, which includes expanded support summer programming due to pandemic loss of learning.

The expenditures increased by over $7 million. $2.2 million in revenue was used to balance the budget with a 1.25 percent tax cap levy.

The overall budget comes in at $145,451,282, which is $7,120,568 up from last year’s budget. The budget remains within the tax cap and includes no additional propositions and reflects a $61.64 increase per year, or $5.14 per month, based off the average taxpayer.

A Zoom budget hearing was held on Wednesday, May 5, and a Meet the Board of Education Candidates will be held via YouTube on Tuesday, May 11 at 7 p.m. The budget vote and BOE election will be held at Bellport Middle School from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, May 18.

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