Written by Michael Scro and Rich Forestano Friday, 18 April 2014 00:00
The Levittown Board of Education unanimously adopted a $198.7 million spending plan for the 2014-2015 school year, which comes with a proposed tax levy increase of 1.62 percent. This represents a $2.1 million increase from last year, for a proposed levy of $133.2 million.
The Levittown school district will receive $49,163,299 in state aid for the 2014-2015 school year, which increased by $690,049 from last year’s budget. The other revenues also show an increase of $684,250 from last year.
In the past seven years, the district received its largest percentage of state aid in 2008-2009 with 30 percent. According to Assistant Superintendent Bill Pastore, state aid has decreased since then, leveling off for the past few years and coming in at slightly below 25 percent for 2014-15.
The primary source of revenue for the district is the tax levy and state aid while fund balance and reserves and other revenues contribute the least. Pastore presented a five-year budget projection, which he described as “critically important to the health of our district.”
Where Pastore displayed “surplus deficit spending,” it projected a proposed -$6,447,238 for 2014-2015 to increase to -$7,932,215 by 2018-2019.
“This is important to note because it means we’re using fund balance to finance some of our expenditures,” Pastore said. “We have to be careful and vigilant in using these projections to look forward and make sure we don’t get ourselves in a position where we’ve overspent the budget and have to make reductions we may not want to make.”
Although the district proposes a fund balance of $30,009,782 for the 2014-2015 school year, it projects that it will fall in the red, dropping to an anticipated fund balance of -$260,485 by the 2018-2019 school year.
“We’re going to have to face some tough decisions, and it's going to be a challenge as budgets move forward,” Levittown Schools Superintendent Dr. James Grossane said. “Eventually, its going to affect programs... that goes without saying.”
Grossane suggested taking advantage of the fact that the district has two high schools—Division Avenue and MacArthur—by looking into magnet and PILOT programs to help ensure the district can maintain enrollment.
As an example, Grossane mentioned that as of next year, AP Chemistry will be run exclusively out of Division Avenue High School, which will require MacArthur students go there to take it.
“That is a combination of what Governor Cuomo has saddled every district in this state with,” said School Board Secretary Ed Powers. “There is nothing more poignant than this five year projection slide... take this information, show it to your friends and neighbors, and call Albany.”
School Board Vice President Peggy Marenghi said that given what is going on in the state, she predicts that half of all school district will hit a brick wall before Levittown does. “That is going to force the hand of Albany to do something in the next five years,” she said.
During the presentation, Pastore went back to 2006-2007—before the tax cap was implemented—showing the district had a tax levy increase of 3.96 percent, and a budget-to-budget increase of 3.93 percent. “Our tax levy is limited, and therefore, that drives our budget, which is a limited,” Pastore said.
The major components of the district’s spending plan for 2014-15 includes a $876,953 increase in salaries, a $1,081,540 increase in BOCES services for the special education department, and $1,743,500 in employee benefits. Reductions include a $836,914 decrease in contractual services and $208,839 decrease in tuition and training in the special education department. According to Pastore, refinancing bonds from last year also contributed to a $168,631 decrease in debt service.
Copies of the proposed 2014-2015 school budget will be made available by the district 14 days before voters will go to the polls on May 20.
Saturday, 30 August 2014 00:00
In response to the county’s fly-by-night decision to remove 176 old oak trees along Seaman’s Neck Road, earlier this month, New York State Sen. Kemp Hannon has issued a letter to Nassau County Department of Public Works Commissioner Shila Shah-Gavnoudias regarding constituents’ concerns with the appearance of the roadway.
In his letter, Hannon asks Commissioner Shah-Gavnoudias if the removal of the trees were under the jurisdiction of LIPA or PSEG.
“If not, I would like to know who made the decision to remove these trees and why,” Hannon states. “I request you review this case and take whatever course of action necessary.”
Wednesday, 27 August 2014 00:00
U.S. Navy Veteran Richard Meyerowitz of Levittown joined the military in 1962, enlisting straight out of high school. While he would never see combat, Meyerowitz served as a boilerman aboard the U.S.S. Dewey amid the United States’ blockade of Cuba.
“They gave us our orders,” Meyerowitz said, “turn any vessels away. If not, blow ‘em out of the water.”
During the blockade, Meyerowitz said he only encountered one ship, which they warned to turn back. Just a kid at the time, Meyerowitz said it didn’t occur to him at the time, how the country could have been on the verge of nuclear war.
Thursday, 28 August 2014 00:00
Christopher Joseph of Levittown was recently selected to play on the United States world university hockey team in Italy this year. A 2009 MacArthur High School graduate, Joseph was captain of his high school team for two seasons, leading them to two championships. Joseph would later go on to play junior hockey for New York Apple Core and the New Jersey Rockets junior ‘A’ team.
Joseph’s parents, Hal and Theresa, along with his brother Robert and sister Kristin said they are very proud of Christopher’s accomplishments and are cheering him on as he heads off to Italy.
Thursday, 28 August 2014 00:00
Farmingdale State College had four players named to the 2014 D3baseball.com All-New York Team. Senior outfielder Edward Bergmann of East Meadow, earned First Team honors, while junior shortstop Anthony Alvino of Lindenhurst was named to the Second Team. Junior outfielder Michael Marino of Franklin Square and sophomore pitcher Alex Weingarten of East Rockaway also earned Third Team honors this year.
Bergmann batted a team-leading .421 this season and also led the Rams in hits (53), runs scored (42), doubles (8), on-base percentage (.503), stolen bases (30) and held a perfect fielding percentage. Nationally, Bergmann ranks 4th for stolen bases per game (0.88), 10th in stolen bases, 23rd in both on-base percentage and batting average and 29th in runs scored per game (1.21).