The Wainscott Common School District, in response to Part 100 of the Commissioner of Education Regulations, devised and implemented a district wide program to provide Response To Intervention for for students in grades K through 3, who score below the designated performance level on state assessments. and/or who are not performing on track to graduate from high school college or career ready. The district plan was initially implemented in September 2011, and is revised bi-annually to reflect current goals and student needs.
Emergencies and violent incidents in school districts are critical issues that must be addressed in an expeditious and effective manner. Districts are required to develop a District Wide School Safety Plan designed to prevent or minimize the effects of serious violent incidents and emergencies and to facilitate the coordination of the district with local and county resources in the event of such incidents or emergencies. The district wide plan is responsive to the needs of the Wainscott Common School District and is consistent with the more detailed Building Emergency Response plan required at the school building level. Districts are at risk of a wide variety of acts of violence, natural, and technological disasters. To address these threats, the State of New York has enacted the Safe Schools Against Violence in Education (SAVE) law. This component of Project SAVE is a comprehensive planning effort that addresses risk reduction/prevention, response, and recovery with respect to a variety of emergencies in the school district.
School safety is the job of the entire school community. This effort requires leadership and coordination by school administration, and involvement and participation from all sectors of the school community. Planning, conducting drills and participating in exercises with law enforcement, fire, emergency officials and other members of the school community ensures a comprehensive, unified approach to the Building Emergency Response Plan. Building relationships and community engagement are vital to building a safer school community.
The Wainscott Common School District supports SAVE Legislation, and has engaged in a planning process. The Superintendent of Schools/Building Principal encourages and advocates for ongoing district wide cooperation and support of Project SAVE.
Dear Wainscott School District Taxpayer:
Your Board of Trustees is proposing a budget for 2019-2020 of $3,324,651, representing an $8,626 or a .26 % decrease from last year’s budget. The Board is also proposing an 18.51 % increase in our tax levy and a corresponding increase in our tax rate from $141.42 to $167.62 per thousand assessed valuation in East Hampton and $8.20 to $9.72 per thousand assessed valuation in Southampton. The proposed 18.5% ($416,374) increase in our tax levy will pierce the District’s 2.93% effective statutory Tax Cap by 15.60%. Despite these significant increases, Wainscott’s school tax rate will remain the lowest of the East End Schools by a wide margin.
The Board fully recognizes the magnitude of the proposed increase and asks that you consider the following facts and circumstances that have bought our unique District to this juncture. We also caution you a further tax levy increase is likely for the 2020-2021 budget.
You will recall that over the last seven years the District has been working toward “right sizing” our annual budget and reducing our unrestricted fund balance to a more realistic level closer to legally mandated maximums. The Board has successfully achieved both these goals. Including its proposed 2019-2020 budget, the Board has reduced the amount of its annual budget in seven of the last eight years while expanding and increasing our program and student services in response to the changing needs of our students attending our highly acclaimed K-3 educational program in our Schoolhouse. During that period, we have also reduced our unrestricted fund balance by $2,250,000 by giving it back to our taxpayers through reduced tax levies in each of the past seven years. As we stated in our last two budget messages, our reliance on our unrestricted fund balance to decrease your tax payments was not sustainable and as a result this year’s tax levy increase is inevitable.
During this same time period, Wainscott has experienced a dramatic increase in the number of students residing in our district, particularly during the last two years. The number of students who attend the schoolhouse (K-3) or who are tuitioned out to East Hampton or Sag Harbor Schools (pre-K; 4-12) has increased a staggering 236% since the 2012-2013 school year ( 46 vs. 117). This has resulted in the two significant impacts. It has increased our student population in the Schoolhouse to 28 students which represents 116% of its capacity (there are already 32 K-3 students registered for next year which would increase our overcapacity to 133%). It has also increased our tuition costs (the largest line item in our annual budget) dramatically over that period in a cumulative amount far larger than this next year’s proposed tax levy increase. For example, our tuition payments have increased $365,000.00 over the last two years alone. To put these student increases in perspective, our neighbor the Sagaponack District has a slightly larger total population but only 38 total students residing in their District.
(Wainscott has 128 -including 11 private students not funded by our District).
These increases have brought our District to a crossroads which threatens not only our District’s long held mission of individualized instruction delivered to our students in our Schoolhouse’s open classroom format, but also the very existence of our Schoolhouse. You will be receiving our separate writing on this subject which we ask you to consider and act upon.
In the meantime, the Trustees invite you to participate in the budget vote and the District Election to be held on May 21, 2019 at our Schoolhouse. Your support is particularly requested this year since a sixty percent (60%) super majority vote is needed to pass the proposed 2019- 2020 budget as it exceeds our statutory Tax Cap.
As always, your Board of Trustees thanks you for your continued support and understanding.
David E. Eagan, President
William A. Babinski, Jr.