Cuts to Arts, Sports Eyed

The East Hampton School Board meeting 03.27.12

    The East Hampton School Board took a close look at the arts and athletic department budgets on Tuesday night as Larry Roberts, the director of unified arts, and Joe Vasile-Cozzo, the director of athletics, outlined cuts they have made to their proposed 2012-13 spending.
    One issue that raised eyebrows was a $17,000 food budget for the family and consumer science classes.
    “That’s for 200 students,” Mr. Roberts said. “At $88 per student, it breaks down to about $8.80 per student, per month.”
    “It still sounds really high,” said Jackie Lowey, a school board member.
    One of the two middle school plays performed every year was cut from the budget to bring down the costs in the drama department.
    However, a $4,000 lunch for senior citizens that usually precedes the high school play was left in the budget.
    “You will not convince me that the district should be paying for senior citizens to have lunch. We’re cutting a play so people can have lunch,” Ms. Lowey said.
    Laura Anker Grossman, the school board president, and George Aman, a board member, both expressed the importance of catering to the district’s older residents, but agreed that it didn’t have to cost that much.
    A possible solution was laid on the table:  have the family and consumer science students make lunch for the senior citizens, using some of the $17,000 food budget.
    Although there was a unanimous decision that the idea was a good one, it still needed to be discussed with the teachers in the department and was put on hold for now.
    Mr. Vasile-Cozzo, commonly known as Mr. Vas, outlined over $100,000 in cuts his department has made to next year’s athletic budget from the spending plan he had originally proposed for 2012-13. But when mileage paid back to coaches was examined, it was discovered that the district pays 51 cents per mile, when it is only required by law to pay 32 cents per mile.
    Lowering the rate would reduce the $8,000 in mileage reimbursement costs to coaches to approximately $6,000, and have ramifications throughout the district if it was universally applied.
    The board also scrutinized the pros and cons of purchasing of a $17,000 scoreboard to replace the broken one on the field.
    Mr. Vas suggested the possibility of sports camps in the summer to raise money. He said other districts have done this with great success.
    “It’s a 50-50 split,” he said. “The coaches don’t get paid, and half the money goes to lower the materials and supplies cost for that sport, the other half to the district. It could then go toward the scoreboard,” he said.
    The board asked if he would be able to institute this program before the summer, and Mr. Vas said he would look into it in further detail.
    Another budget workshop is scheduled for next Tuesday during the regular school board meeting at 7:30 p.m.