SCCSD Board Notes - March 13, 2019 Meeting

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During the first business meeting of the month on March 13, the board of education regretfully accepted the resignation of vice president Regina Hunt, who must vacate her seat due to a residency change. Suffolk County Legislator Robert Calarco presented Ms. Hunt with a proclamation thanking her for her service to the South Country Central School District and community. Board president Cheryl A. Felice also thanked Ms. Hunt for her service. “Her love and compassion for the people of our district will be sorely missed, equaled by few and exceeded by none,” Ms. Felice said. “We will all miss her willingness to go the extra mile, her knowledge of our schools, the integrity she possesses, and her truly authentic nature. Most of all, we will miss her laughter and friendship.”

Dr. Joseph Giani announced that the Department of Environmental Conservation reported that the Town of Brookhaven’s landfill failed air quality testing for a period of time in December 2018. He noted that while this information is important and concerning, it is not related in any way to the District nor Frank P. Long Intermediate School. He said the health and safety of students and staff is the district’s highest priority. Over the last five years, the district has conducted an extensive and comprehensive environmental investigation, as well as a significant capital project at the Frank P. Long Intermediate School. Testing included total indoor/outdoor ambient air quality, groundwater well testing, radon testing and heavy metals testing. The district also replaced all windows and doors, upgraded the HVAC system and renovated the outdoor courtyard. The comprehensive investigation concluded that all parameters assessed to be normal for a school building in Suffolk County. “We understand and sympathize with the concerns of our community, and the district will continue to do its due diligence to ensure the safety of its students and staff,” Dr. Giani said. 

Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Management Services Dr. Sammy Gergis gave a budget presentation on general support, transportation and undistributed codes in the proposed 2019-2020 spending plan. Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Accountability Marlon Small also presented information on instruction. At this current time, the projected budget totals $135,199,284 with a tax cap limit of 3.36 percent, which is an approximate $3 million budget increase over the 2018-2019 school year. Dr. Gergis explained the financial challenges the district faces, which include underfunded and unfunded mandates, decreased state aid and funding and potential additional transportation costs. Mr. Gergis also noted that the projected budget does not yet include the use of district reserves. Dr. Giani said the district “needs to sharpen our pencils” to reduce expenses, and the board will need to discuss whether to stay within the tax cap or to use reserves during subsequent meetings and workshops. The 2019-20120 budget will be adopted on April 17.  

The next board of education will be held on March 27 at 7:30 p.m. at the administrative building.