Springs to Stay Under Cap

       As local school districts begin weighing annual budgets, the Springs School announced on Monday night that it will stay under the 1.46-percent tax-levy cap for the 2014-15 academic year.

       Thomas Primiano, the district’s treasurer, led a presentation to a packed house of teachers and parents, explaining that the state-mandated 2-percent tax cap will actually be 1.46 percent, to match the 2013 consumer price index. (The cap is either 2 percent or tied to the C.P.I., whichever is lower.) Because of certain exemptions, he expects the tax levy to increase by up to 3.29 percent.

       “We plan on coming in at the cap or under,” Mr. Primiano elaborated yesterday.  “As far as maintaining programs, we don’t plan on making any cuts. When rainy days do come, it won’t be as easy to do, but we’re hoping to stave them off for as long as possible.”

       Speaking of the district’s fund balance, he said that approximately $600,000 would be used to keep the tax levy under the cap. “The not-so-great news is that we are using the fund balance to stay under that cap,” said Mr. Primiano. “Last year we applied $700,000, and this year we will need to continue to apply fund balance.”

       In terms of budget goals, the school hopes to expand its technology inventory, utilizing newly increased broadband capacity, and aims to give all students access to their own Google Chromebook. Springs hopes to invest in 150 additional Chromebooks, each at a cost of around $300.

       In total, the technology budget is expected to go up by more than $65,000. Transportation is projected to rise by more than $30,000, due to additional ridership requirements, with buildings and grounds seeing an increase of more than $12,000. 

       Earlier in Monday’s meeting two teachers, Sue Ellen O’Connor and Margaret Thompson, led a well-received presentation about the school’s annual opera production, complete with a selection sung by cast members.

       In other news, the Greater East Hampton Education Foundation, a local nonprofit, has awarded two grants to Springs teachers following a competitive application process. Ms. O’Connor won a $2,000 grant to help expand the animation program, while Danielle Hamilton received $1,200 to expand a reading program.

       The school board has appointed an architecture firm, Burton, Behrendt and Smith, to devise a master plan around the best use of space. With a growing student population, Roger Smith, an architect, outlined general ways in which the school could be more efficient in terms of its use of resources. A full plan is forthcoming.

       A second budget workshop is planned for Feb. 26 at 7 p.m., when the board will tackle items related to instructional programs, co-curricular activities, interscholastic athletics, and field trips. A third and final session is planned for March 10, when the board will review items related to tuition, the Board of Cooperative Educational Services, employee benefits, administration, and the projected budget and tax rate.