Written by Debora Toth Thursday, 07 May 2009 10:51
Although the April 23 meeting of the Concerned Citizens Association of Farmingdale was sparsely attended, those present were able to intently question the Farmingdale School Superintendent John Lorentz for more than 30 minutes about the proposed 2009/10 school budget. The 2009/10 proposed Farmingdale Board of Education budget will have one of the lowest increases in over 30 years, says the district’s school board. The new budget, announced to voters at a series of local meetings, will have a tax levy increase of 1.33 percent.
On Tuesday, April 21, the Farmingdale Board of Education met to adopt the proposed budget for the 2009/10 school year. At $143,969,743, the proposed budget maintains all current academic programs and services while limiting expenditures to an increase of 3.88 percent. Highlights of the proposed budget include continuation of a variety of class offerings at the high school level as well as small class size at the elementary level, which has been proven to maximize learning opportunities for each student within the district.
“This budget reflects the current economy,” said Superintendent John Lorentz. “It is our job to ensure that the budget is flexible for student needs and sustains programs. This is as conservative as we can get it.” The superintendent noted that the school district has 6,200 students and 570 teachers. “It has been flat district wide.”
According to Lorentz, the board has established long-term goals for the district budget.
As part of these long-term goals, a capital reserve will be created.
“No money will be put into the capital reserve fund until we are able to arrive at an appropriate and consistent tax levy,” said Paul Defendini, assistant superintendent for business, in a press release. “A successful budget has and will continue to be the district’s first priority.”
The monies in the reserve fund will come from the year-end fund balance and the reallocation of reserves and/or capital appropriations. Voter approval will be necessary to appropriate any funds to this reserve. Voter approval will also be required to expend any money from this reserve. The district’s plan is to continue to complete energy-related work throughout the district.
One of the CCAF attendees mentioned that he would like to see the budget online where more people would be readily available to see it.
“We’d like it to be transparent,” he commented. The superintendent countered that the board has set up many community meetings to discuss the budget and that it is available at the library. “Not everyone can make a meeting or go to the library,” the resident said.
After analyzing the proposed budget, it was noted that 80 percent of the budget increase is due to teacher salaries.
“We haven’t hired new teachers but we have contracts to honor,” said the superintendent. “It is the largest piece of the budget.”
The superintendent also noted that the Farmingdale School District is unique in that it sits on both the Nassau and Suffolk County line and on both the Town of Oyster Bay and Babylon. Because of this juxtaposition, there is a split of the percentage of a particular tax that is paid one year to Nassau County and the next year to Suffolk County. In this proposed budget, a .59 percent tax will be paid to Nassau County. In addition there are two other taxes–STAR and Base Proportions – in addition to the school levy that make up the entire Nassau County tax bill. In other words, the school district tax is increasing by 1.25 percent or $80.83 per average tax of $6,466.07 but the entire Nassau County tax bill is increasing by 4.66 percent or $303.91 for the same resident.
The meeting concluded with a plea from the Farmingdale Relay for Life leaders to join the American Cancer Society group at the annual event held at Farmingdale College on June 5. The event begins at 6 p.m. June 5 and continues throughout the night until 6 a.m. June 6 with teams of individuals walking “relay-style” around a track with one member of each team staying in motion at all times.
“Our goal is to create awareness of the American Cancer Society,” said Tom Hickey, co-chair of the Farmingdale group. Toward this end, the group is offering Relay for Life signs for a $50 donation that can be purchased by civic associations, businesses and individuals, or flags for a $20 donation that can be flown on homes, schools, or businesses.
“We’ve been holding the Farmingdale Relay for Life event for seven years,” said Arlene Soete, co-chair from Farmingdale. “The event raises money for cancer and we’ve made tremendous progress in getting our young people involved. In the last two years, we’ve doubled the number of young people. Last year, we had 500 to 700 people at the 12-hour overnight event. It’s extremely well-attended and we encourage you to be a part of it.”
Prior to the relay event in June, there are many ways to help the organization. On May 4, Applebee’s in Farmingdale at Airport Plaza will be donating 10 percent of each customer’s bill to the Farmingdale Relay for Life if a flier is presented to the server. (Go to this web site for a flier: http://main.acsevents.org/site/TR/RelayForLife/RFLFY09EA?pg=informational&fr_id=14122&type=fr_informational&sid=65172).
Adventureland will be holding an event to benefit the group on Friday, May 15 from 6 to 11 p.m. Tickets are $20 per person for all of the rides in the park. Finally, Farmingdale’s Dave & Busters entertainment, games, and dining location at Airport Plaza will be opening its doors to support the Relay For Life of Farmingdale. Enjoy unlimited (non-return) games for $10 on Thursday, May 21 from 5 to 7 p.m. The entire $10 will benefit the Relay.
“Many people ask us why we hold the event at night,” said Tom Hickey. “The event signifies the various stages that a cancer patient goes through. You start in the light when you first get your diagnosis, you move through the darkness as you battle chemotherapy, and you return to the light victorious from the cancer. The relay event itself was chosen because participants are always on the move throughout the event, just like cancer never takes a break, neither do the participants. It’s an ongoing battle.”