With the school budget vote coming up on May 21, North Fork school districts continue to hold budget workshops.
To that end, two school budget workshops will be held on the North Fork Wednesday night.
The Southold Union Free School District's Board of Education will hold a budget workshop on April 3 at 7:30 p.m. in the district auditorium.
A budget workshop will also be held at Greenport Schools on April 3 at 5 p.m. in the Greenport High School auditorium.
The Southold PTA has urged parents to take part in the budget process and vote on the budget.
The Southold Union Free School District could see some "small" program cuts under the new 2013-2014 budget, according to Superintendent David Gamberg.
"What we want to do is to create a sustainable path for years to come," Gamberg said Friday. "Any cuts or decisions we make, we have to know that they are things we can manage over the long term, not just the short term. But sometimes you have to take short term steps to get to another place in time."
A declining enrollment may lead to the need to "make some adjustments to programs," Gamberg said.
While the superintendent declined to give specifics, he said no changes have been finalized and will only be comprised of "small pieces."
The district's overall enrollment has seen a decline over the past five to ten years from over 1000 students enrolled to a current school population of 860.
That decrease, Gamberg said, can be directly linked to the economy and the lack of jobs in Southold.
The district, he said, is expected to come in under New York State's 2 percent tax cap levy.
"We want to do right by students and the taxpayers, that's our guiding principle," he said. "And it's a balancing act."
Gamberg said he plans to implement a new social media plan to inform parents and taxpayers on the budget process. With YouTube receiving close to a billion videos each month, Gamberg said it's a natural progression.
"My thinking is that it's time that the school utilize that tool to provide information in a clear and objective way to taxpayers, parents, and anyone who wishes to see what the budget is comprised of."
Short, two-minute videos will be created to explain the budget, the 2 percent tax levy cap, and other issues, Gamberg said. Links to the YouTube videos will be placed on Facebook pages created by the PTA, the elementary school, and other school groups.
The videos will be created during the next few weeks and are expected to be completed by early April, Gamberg said.
Meanwhile, at the Greenport Union Free School district, the 2013-2014 school budget is expected to come in under the New York State mandated 2 percent tax levy cap -- without cuts to programs -- according to School Superintendent Mike Comanda.
A third budget will be held April 10, if needed, in Greenport before the regularly scheduled board meeting.
Comanda said currently, the district is "on par" to come through under New York State's two percent tax cap levy.
"We are able to maintain all current levels of programs," Comanda said.
As it stands, the district is expected to see a 3.6 percent budget-to-budget increase over last year, the superintendent added. "We're hoping to get that number down a little more," he said, with information expected from Albany over the weekend. "When we get those numbers, we'll adjust from there."
Last year, Comanda said, the district exceeded the 2 percent tax levy cap; the district needed 60 percent of voters to approve the measure. "And they did," he said, making the Greenport district one of 19 in the state where that happened.
The main reason why the district is able to stay under the cap this time around, Comanda said, is that last year, "our teachers took a true, hard salary freeze that allowed me to prepare for this upcoming budget. It was one of the biggest single factors."
This year, Comanda said, "We really wanted to come in under the government's allowable tax cap levy. We wanted to say 'thank you -- when we needed you, you helped us. Now we need to give you something back. We needed to come in with some good numbers."
Of the 2013-2014 budget, he said, "I never say never, but I'm think our budget's in a good place right now."
What are your thoughts concerning the proposed budgets at both the Southold Union Free School Districts and the Greenport Union Free School District? What are your concerns? Tell us in the comments section.
What programs do you think are critical to Southold students? What do you think should definitely not be cut?