East Williston schools highlight tech, special ed and athletics in budget

Janelle Clausen
Sydney Freifelder, the assistant superintendent for business, outlines the overall budget before administration heads focus on specific line items. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)
Sydney Freifelder, the assistant superintendent for business, outlines the overall budget before administration heads focus on specific line items. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

East Williston school officials dove into the pupil personnel services, technology and athletics portions of their $59.8 million budget proposal last Wednesday, with costs expected to decrease overall in the three areas.

Of the portions of the proposed budget reviewed, pupil personnel services, most of which goes toward special education costs, is the largest at about $2.2 million.

The technology budget is $1.07 million and the athletics budget is $240,305, which is the only increase among the three items.

Special education costs account for $2.19 million in the school district’s proposal, which makes up most of the pupil personnel services budget. Overall this is about $300,000 lower than the current $2.5 million for special education budget, which makes up most of the $2.52 million pupil personnel services budget.

Lynn Mazza, the head of pupil personnel services, said the proposal would expand specific special classes at the Willets Road School in grade 6 and in the Wheatley School for 10th- and 11th-graders.

This would be in addition to resource room, integrated co-teaching at all levels, special classes, adapted physical education and other items, Mazza said.

The budget also projects that fewer students will use outside services, which are less expensive, and that two students will be transitioning into new district programs.

But, Mazza also noted, 12 students with disabilities moved into the East Williston school district as classified by the Committee on Special Education last year and eight more have entered this year with an individualized education program.

The rest of the pupil personnel services budget goes toward a combination of speech and language services, English as a new language programming, as well as psychological and reading services.

Overall, special education costs make up about 5 percent of the school budget.

The technology and innovation budget proposal calls for a decrease from $1.11 million to about $1.07 million, or $40,464.

This year’s proposal calls for the introduction of a K-12 coding program, where students can code in all languages and create a portfolio, as well as the creation of a digital innovation lab at Willets Road School.

The budget would also replace many of the school district’s current Chromebook laptops for students with ones that have touch screens and can act more like a tablet and begin to replace old SMART boards with interactive flat panels.

Edward Kemnitzer, the director of technology, innovation and information services for the  school district, said there would also be decreases in supply costs due to needing fewer projector bulb replacements and printer supplies.

Technology costs are about 2 percent of the overall budget.

The athletics budget proposal calls for an increase from the current $216,988 budget to $240,305. The bulk of the increase comes through equipment costs, including new scoreboards, which would go up from $21,185 to $42,595.

This budget supports more than two dozen sports, according to a presentation, ranging from basketball and dance to wrestling and volleyball.

Athletics accounts for less than half a percentage point of the budget.

The school board’s next budget meeting will take place on Wednesday in room 450 of the Wheatley School at 7:30 p.m. and focus specifically on North Side, Willets Road and the Wheatley School.

The final budget meeting will take place on Monday, March 26, at 7:30 p.m., also in room 450 in the Wheatley School. School board trustees plan to adopt their final budget and property tax at that meeting.

Voters will decide whether to approve the adopted budget on Tuesday, May 15, from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Share this Article