Community members came out on Wednesday, June 1, to the first regular Farmingdale Board of Education Meeting since the failed May 17 budget vote. It was decided at the meeting that the budget will be put up for a re-vote on June 22 using the same budget plan with the addition of 100 percent of the state aid.
During the first public participation portion of the meeting numerous residents came forward to voice their opinions.
"I have stayed in this community because of the experiences I had as a child and I want those same experiences for my children," said Cheryl Wadsworth a proponent of the re-vote.
Not only did parents and adults from the community step forward, but many students also expressed to the board their feelings.
"Without a passed budget we cannot keep our sports which help us get into colleges and keep us busy and in shape," said student Thomas Esposito.
Youth Council President Bill Meilink came to the meeting asking for a re-vote. He expressed to the board that if a contingency budget is adopted the Youth Council would suffer immensely.
Parents were also concerned about academics and what the failed budget could mean for them.
"I'm willing to pay for the sports but the academics are necessary and the money should be put toward them," said Linda Meltzner a parent of Farmingdale alumni.
Farmingdale Village resident Terri Morrison presented the board with a petition containing 200 signatures of other residents in favor of the re-vote with the additional state aid.
Members of the community who were opposed to a re-vote were a minority at the meeting but also present.
"Don't hurt the children but don't raise the taxes any more" said Farmingdale resident Michael Grello, who asked the board to do more with less.
After the public participation, Assistant Superintendent of Business John Lorentz presented the proposed budget with the additional state aid of $842,745. This proposal showed a 5 percent tax levy increase, which is down from the 5.92 percent increase reflected in the budget put to vote on May 17.
"Applying 100 percent of the Farmingdale Schools' anticipated state aid to reduce the tax levy brings our school tax rate increase down to 5 percent, well below the Long Island average of 7.2 percent in the May budget vote," said Board President Anthony Vitale
The board took over and explained to the public what they each feel is the right thing to do. They assured the public that they have and will continue to work hard for their community. The board voted 6-1 to have a re-vote with 100 percent state aid included. They then set the new date of June 22 for the budget vote.
Board trustee Jane Rubinstein reminded the community that they do not vote a tax increase but approve a budget. She added that aid from the state is not always guaranteed and the board must work accordingly. Rubinstein reiterated that the budget they presented was "educationally sound." Although Board Member Bob Guarino agreed with Rubinstein, he voted against the re-vote. Vitale said that when a school district is on austerity, ratings are lost and implied this is not good for a community. He reminded community members to spread the word and vote.
A public hearing will be held June 15 and the new budget vote will be held June 22 from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Howitt Middle School in the East Gymnasium.
After the budget discussions concluded, Lorentz again addressed the board and presented four propositions of the Facilities Advisory Committee. There will be a bond vote on Sept. 29 based on the findings of the committee. Proposition 1 is a basic needs proposition. Propositions 2, 3 and 4 depend upon the passing of Proposition 1. Lorentz explained that for every dollar invested the state reimburses the district 47.5 percent and discussed the money's needed. Rick Morrison and other committee members discussed each proposition.
The meeting was adjourned after a brief second participation.