It’s budget season: and on May 17 community members will be heading to their local schools to vote on the budget, board trustees and other local matters. Three local school districts; Mineola Union Free School District, Westbury Union Free School District and the New Hyde Park-Garden City Park Union Free School District have all just recently adopted a budget that will be presented to voters.
Mineola Union Free School District
The Mineola Union Free School District Board of Education adopted their $110,006,800 budget on April 7. The proposed tax levy is approximately $84.7 million budget, a $0 increase from the current year’s. The allowable tax levy increase is 1.75 percent. And there was a budget to budget decrease of $1.8 million, or 1.62 percent, from the ‘21 to ‘22 $111,820,000 budget.
Since the tax levy cap was introduced in the 2012 through 2013 fiscal year, the Mineola Union Free School District has kept their tax levy increases below the county average.
“The county [tax levy] projected average for ‘22 through ‘23 is 1.72 percent,” said the Assistant to Superintendent for Business and Operations Andrew Casale. “We will have a zero percent increase which still is the fifth lowest in the county over this time period. The other four districts, worth noting too, is elementary only. So I think this is really impressive.”
The district will receive in revenue approximately $11.0 million in state aid, a 22.74 percent increase from the current year’s; approximately $84.7 million in taxes, the same as the current year; $3.3 million in Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILOTs), a 17.86 percent increase from the current year; $2 million in other revenues, a 7.53 percent increase from the current year; $0 from the general fund, a 100 percent decrease from the current year and $9 million from the capital fund, a 30.77 percent decrease from the current year.
The major expenses lie in approximately $54.2 million in salaries, a 0.81 percent increase from the current year and approximately $25.4 million in benefits, a 4.63 percent increase from the current year. “The reason for the smaller increase in salaries for next year is this time last year we were living in a completely different world and we had a virtual school and we had left 12 teachers in the budget because we were unsure if we would need a virtual school again,” Casale said. “That’s why we’re able to hold at that salary number… The really significant increase again was the recent eleven percent jump in family health, which is driving the overall health up seven percent.”
The equipment budget, Casale said, is a little over $1 million. New bleachers will be acquired for Hampton Stadium and there will be technology infrastructure upgrades, improving on firewall, wireless application protocols and replacement switches; as well as synergy-building furniture and new classroom furniture throughout the district’s classrooms.
The proposed $9 million capital projects include gym and locker room additions to the middle school, synergy work, classroom conversion at Willis Avenue School, bathroom work at Hampton Street School, district wide camera updates and a robotics building at the high school only if the district receives favorable bid prices.
Also on the ballot on May 17 for district residents will be an authorization to allow the Mineola Union Free School District to establish a capital reserve fund so that it could save for future projects. To spend monies out of this fund, a separate vote would take place for the community to approve the project and expenditure.
For more information, visit mineola.k12.ny.us.
Westbury Union Free School District
Westbury Union Free School District Superintendent Dr. Tahira A. DuPree Chase and Board of Education President Robert Troiano Jr. started the budget presentation on April 11 by saying this upcoming school year budget is “the most ambitious budget in the history of Westbury.”
“It’s the most ambitious budget I’ve ever had to present to a community in my entire superintendency, not just here but in my former life,” Dr. DuPree Chase said. “You all as community members and this board should be very, very proud of what it is we’re presenting and as the board president indicated, I don’t know any other school districts in the state of New York who is doing this, in this manner, but it had a lot to do with the ground work that is laid and the work that has been done prior to my arrival.”
The theme of this year’s budget is “A Vision of Excellence” that focuses on equity, excellence and empowerment.
It’s a budget that will give approximately $2 million in tax relief, an estimated tax reduction of 2.4 percent, to the community, while investing approximately $3 million plus in instructional programs and $12.8 million in facility improvements.
“The Westbury average tax-payer will see a decrease in their tax levy or in their tax bill, by $349.69,” said Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations Mary O’Neill. “That rate is assuming there’s no change in assessment and no change in everything else. It would be status quo.”
Supplementing the budget is $9.7 million in Foundation Aid. Thirty-three students rallied for this Foundation Aid and nearly 1,000 letters were sent by community members to state representatives. The Board of Education also levied complaints against the US Dept. of Justice, and members of the Westbury community stood on the steps of the Supreme Court with 400 students and adults from Long Island.
While the passed New York State budget decreased overall aid to the district by $107,083, funding for Universal Pre-K went up by $310,842.
Academic initiatives funded by the budget include increasing staff to support innovative programs, building upon literacy and numeracy plans, supporting the Signature Saturday Academy, summer and extended day programs, as well as funding the television production program, the International Baccalaureate Program and exploring the Universal Pre-K program. Improvements upon the athletic program are also included in the budget by providing funding for an athletic mentor, new uniforms, a restored dance studio and fencing and lacrosse programs.
The district’s facility and health and safety programs will also be getting a nice boost in this budget. There will be repairs to Dryden Street School’s soffits, a new paint job on the entrance of Westbury Park School, asphalt repairs for Powells Lane School, the installation of new card readers for the bathrooms at Westbury Middle School, a replacement of ceiling tiles and removal of asbestos at Westbury High School and an increase in funding for upkeep of school grounds.
As for the district’s health and safety features, funding will be allocated towards two new custodial positions, three new security positions, one new dispatcher for transportation, increase in BOCES services for training, enhanced safety procedures, targeted security training and a security management system.
There are also several capital projects up for consideration in the ‘22 through ‘23 budget; from safety features to repairs in the high school pool facility, among others.
Upon voter approval, approximately $10.3 million will be allocated towards these projects; using monies from the Repair Reserve Fund, the 2019 Capital Reserve Fund and the School Lunch Excess Fund Balance, which can only be put towards the school lunch programs.
For more information, visit westburyschools.org.
New Hyde Park-Garden City Park Union Free School District
The adopted New Hyde Park-Garden City Park Union Free School District Budget is one that would align with the district’s goals, support educators and their students, keep facilities safe and secure and retain personnel.
Included in the budget is the continuation of the Chromebook initiatives; the programming, coding and robotics program; full day kindergarten; mathlete gifted program; library media service, among others.
Children will enjoy budget-funded programs like the first Lego League for third and fourth-graders, as well as seven-day dance residencies and library media centers and innovation labs complete with a green screen. The district’s special education program will also receive more support through the budget by funding assistive technology for children with reading and writing disabilities, as well as adaptive equipment for sensory needs, among other programs and tools.
Facilities will get an upgrade too. Included in the special projects budget line is funding towards exterior railing repairs and improvements, a new school sign, an outdoor classroom, replacement of fencing and more at Garden City Park School; gymnasium floor refinishing, a new school sign, a new outdoor classroom, replacement of fencing, garage roof repair and replacement and more at Hillside Grade School; gymnasium floor refinishing, refinished glazed tiles on the first floor, two new school signs, a new outdoor classroom, replacement of fencing and more at Manor Oaks School and gymnasium floor refinishing, exterior railing repairs and improvements, a new school sign, an outdoor classroom and more at New Hyde Park Road School.
To support this budget, the district is asking voters to approve an approximately $33.5 million tax levy, a 1.54 percent increase from the current year budget.
The average homeowner in the district will see a $59.46 average increase on their tax bill.
Also supporting the budget will be approximately $9.6 million in state aid, a 23.10 percent increase from the current year; approximately $1.6 million in local revenues and a 1.71 percent decrease from the current year.
It’s important to keep in mind that the Sewanhaka Central High School District Budget is separate of the elementary budget and is a separate vote. The district community is responsible for 26 percent of the high school tax levy.
For more information, visit nhp-gcp.org.