Levittown Superintendent Dr. Herman Sirois opened up August 11's regularly scheduled board of education meeting by mentioning the state aid package they are slated to receive for the 2004-2005 school year.
"State legislators and the governor announced a state aid package this week in which Levittown schools would receive about $33.4 million," Sirois said.
This extra aid is $1.3 million more than the district received last year. Sirois mentioned that this figure was included in original budget calculations.
"The estimated tax rate turns out to be exactly what we thought it would be," Sirois said.
The 2004-2005 budget represents a 5.9 percent increase over last year's budget, which results in a tax levy increase of 9.8 percent. Sirois said he wanted to avoid a severe increase for Levittown residents.
Attention was shifted to other budget concerns when the agenda reached Public Be Heard section. A Levittown parent of a fourth-grader in Gardiners Avenue School spoke about her disappointment in the class size her son was exposed to.
"He did not receive the individual attention he needed and he suffered from it," she said. "I will not stand for 27 students in a classroom, only because I want success for my kid."
Sirois acknowledged Gardiners Avenue School was in an awkward position because their numbers are caught right on the cusp. Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Robert Davis offered a potential resolution.
"The current staffing ratio is 26, by guidelines set by the Board of Education. If the numbers hold, another staff member will be added," Davis said. "We've already discussed the interview process with Ms. Hendler [Principal of Gardiners Avenue School]."
Davis said arrangements have been made to start calling all of the families to see how many students would actually be returning in the fall. Board of Education Trustee John Garvey suggested that the test scores of children from the Gardiners Avenue School be compared to those of other elementary schools to see how they fare.
A temporary replacement for the position of guidance chairperson at Division Avenue High School was tabled pending financial information. After substantial efforts to secure such a replacement, the only acceptable applicant, according to the board agenda, is a retiree of the Seaford School District, who will be paid at a per diem rate.
"By acceptable we mean based on administrative certification and having enough experience," Davis said.
Action items passed by the board will bring about some minor changes as well, including the eradication of obsolete vehicles. John Garvey posed another suggestion for this situation.
"Maybe we can see if the Levittown Fire Department would like any of these buses for some type of mass casualty incident training," Garvey said.
The board also approved an increase in price of school lunches for the 2004-2005. Adults lunch will be $2.70, elementary will be $1.55 and secondary will be $1.75. Musical instrument rental fees will also be raised $5 to $75. Board newcomer Roseanne Gullans spoke out against this increase, citing that any increase is too much.
"We pay to recondition the athletic fields, buy new equipment for sport programs and also pay for coaches, fields and buses," Gullans said. "I feel that the fine arts in some respect are left in the shadows when it comes to money."
Sirois said that the suggestion initially came from the music program and the increase will draw an additional $6,000 to $7,000 in revenue.
"This money would be used to buy new instruments," Sirois explained. "The fee is nominal and its purpose is to protect the instruments."
"At least we still offer musical instruments," John Garvey said. "Other districts don't offer them at all, let alone for three years like we do."