HALF HOLLOW HILLS, New York, April 23
BY: Andrew Wroblewski
The Half Hollow Hills school board unanimously adopted its 2015-2016 school budget on Monday – a budget that’s valued at $238,658,101, sports a tax levy increase of 2.34-percent and marks the lowest budget-to-budget increase (1.9-percent) for the district since the 1996-97 school year.
“This budget is really focusing on education opportunities for the kids,” Eric Geringswald, board president, said after Monday’s meeting. “And the facts that we’re staying within the 2-percent tax levy cap and that it’s actually a less than 2-percent year-to-year [increase] is really exciting.”
Looking forward to the budget vote, which is set for May 19, Geringswald stressed those educational opportunities proposed in the budget, which include items such as restoration of elementary clubs; fine arts courses like filmmaking and photography; a revamped physical education program that includes individual, group and outdoor education; STEM program enhancements; funding for up to six additional English Language Learners (ELL) and English as a New Language (ENL) teachers; three new buses; a security patrol sedan; and three capital projects – the replacement of High School East’s chilling and cooling tower, the renovation of High School West’s tennis courts, and the replacement of High School West’s auditorium partition doors.
“We’re doing [this] in the most cost-effective way we can,” he said. “It’s a meaty budget that really provides great stuff for our kids.”
The nearly $239-million budget will be funded most-heavily by the property tax levy, which is valued at $195,369,595. In New York State aid, the district expects to receive a $2,122,269 increase from 2014-15 for a total anticipated value of $28,999,697. The remainder of the proposed budget is made up of payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs), miscellaneous revenue, the district’s reserves and its appropriated fund balance.
Ann Marie Marrone Caliendo, assistant superintendent for finance and facilities, said the district is in the process of steadily decreasing its appropriated fund balance in order to comply with recent critiques made by the New York State Comptroller’s Office of school districts that use surplus funds to keep tax levy increases low for the following school year.
The proposed revenue will go towards funding the district’s expenditures, which most-heavily reside in instruction at $132,793,146, or 55.64 percent, of the proposed budget. Undistributed costs – employee benefits, debt services, etc. – make up the next-largest chunk at $70,452,271. General support – expenses supportive of management in the district – will cost $20,831,234. Transportation is set at $14,461,045. Community service – costs related to community use of the district pool – closes out the budget at $120,405.
Voter registration will be provided on any school day between 9:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. at the District Clerk’s Office at the Fran Greenspan Administration Center. The final day for voters to register is May 14. Special voter registration days will also be available on May 9 from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. and May 13 from 9 a.m.-8 p.m.
A budget hearing is set for May 11. The budget and board of education trustee election are on May 19 from 7 a.m.-10 p.m. in the East Gymnasium of High School East.
Originally published: Long Islander News: Half Hollow Hills
(Thursday, April 23, 2015; A2)