COMMACK, New York, Mar. 19
BY: Andrew Wroblewski
For the second-straight academic year, Commack School District officials have proposed a tax levy lower than the year before.
The 2014-2015 budget passed with a 1.96 percent tax levy – down from the 2012-2013 levy of 2.91 percent – and, on March 12, Superintendent of Schools Donald James announced that the 2015-2016 budget will not have a tax levy higher than 1.3 percent.
In fact, he said, it might even be lower.
“Once we see our state aid numbers… it is possible that it could be lower,” he said. “When the state aid does come in, then we’ll have a better sense of whether or not we can produce a lower number, but [1.3 percent] is the maximum.”
With state aid numbers still up in the air – Governor Andrew Cuomo is continuing discussions with state lawmakers over a proposed education reform package that could result in added monies for New York school districts – Commack, among other school districts, has been put in a situation where it must estimate through the start of the budgeting process.
Without state aid runs, districts are formulating their budgets under the promise that Cuomo has made to increase state aid by at least 1.7 percent, or about $377 million.
For Commack, the 2015-2016 school budget was presented for the first time after a March 12 school board meeting. The budget boasts a proposed spending plan of $185,123,747 – a 1.03-percent increase from the 2014-2015 proposed budget of $183,234,238.
The proposed budget, James said, is built upon restorations and additions such as: stable and reduced elementary class sizes; enhanced middle school enrichment programs; more enhanced, college-level high school courses; a focus on secondary athletics; maintenance of co-curricular allocations; increased district-wide security; additional ENL/ESL staffing; increased AIS staffing; and a continued special education expansion through the district.
“We did not reduce programming. There are some enhancements, but by and large the programing remains intact,” James said. “If there was anything taken out, we would tell you.”
A second budget workshop with a more in-depth look at athletics, facilities, technology, transportation, staffing and undistributed costs is scheduled for March 26 at 8 p.m. at Commack High School.
Originally published: Long Islander News: The Record
(Thursday, Mar. 19, 2015; A2)