Over the next two months, the East Hampton School Board will hold work sessions to go over drafts of the 2013-14 district budget in line-by-line detail.
On Tuesday night, at its second public workshop, board members pored over hundreds of pages of documents at a meeting that lasted nearly four hours.
Apart from two members of the press, no one from the public attended the meeting. Unlike at a January meeting, documents being discussed were provided to those in attendance, although confusion quickly arose among the board members over the absence of page numbers.
“Pagination is the word of the day,” said George Aman, the board president, urging presenters to include page numbers in future documents.
Although the draft budget, which calls for more than $65 million in spending and includes several big-ticket items, Tuesday night’s discussion mostly centered around smaller items — picking over such things as a $165 sheet cake from Tate’s Bake Shop in Southampton and $45 worth of facial tissue.
Three presenters appeared before the board. Robert Tymann, East Hampton’s assistant superintendent, presented budget items related to his office. Gina Kraus, principal of the John M. Marshall Elementary School, presented items related to her school’s budget. And Charles Soriano, principal of East Hampton Middle School, presented his building’s report.
When it came to possible cuts, Alison Anderson, a school board member, discussed the potential of revisiting funding allocated for elementary school field trips, “if we need an area.” Also, the $6,000 earmarked for new bookshelves at John Marshall provoked debate.
“We’re still at the input level,” urged Richard J. Burns, the Superintendent of Schools. “But things like bookcases may be an issue if we need to cut $30,000.”
Dr. Soriano told the board that starting next fall, the middle school projected an increase of 40 students. But despite the greater number of students, the school’s budget was projected to rise by only $60.
Among the contested budget items: $800 on lifeguards for an end-of-year beach excursion, and a $995 sound system and $2,150 folding chair rental for graduation.
Patricia Hope, a board member, urged that the middle school’s science department cut what she deemed its “wish list” by 20 percent. “There’s an awful lot of excess here,” said Ms. Hope, noting more than $14,000 set aside for equipment. She formerly chaired the science department at East Hampton High School.
Over the next two months, budget numbers will continue being honed and finalized. Future budget work sessions are scheduled for Feb. 26, March 21, and April 9. The meetings begin promptly at 6 p.m. in the district office, which is at the high school.