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.
Friday, 19 September 2014 08:29
A group of Levittown parents are voicing their concerns with letting their children walk to school, since it would mean they would continue to cross Hempstead Turnpike.
“My kid has to cross [Hempstead Tpke.] daily without a crossing guard,” said Division Avenue parent Wendy Lantigua.
For Lantigua and others, the dangers of Hempstead Turnpike became all to real after 13-year-old Brianna Soplin was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver, last June. Not to mention the fact that another 14-year-old Levittown student suffered multiple injuries after being struck in hit-and-run, last February.
Saturday, 20 September 2014 00:00
On Sept. 14, Hempstead town officials joined family and friends of fallen New York City paramedic Rudy Havelka, to unveil the re-dedication of Birch Lane in Levittown.
While surviving the World Trade Center attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Havelka wou ld later die of an illness related to his service at Ground Zero.
Friday, 19 September 2014 08:34
The annual One Love Long Island (OLLI) Yoga Festival takes place at the Sands Point Preserve on Sunday, Sept. 21 from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. All profits will be donated to organizations that support survivors of human trafficking, locally and globally.
The festival will unite 16 Long Island yoga studio communities in a round robin of the traditional yogic practice of 108 Sun Salutations from 9:30 a.m. to noon, whose offerings will look to create long-term and sustainable solutions to eradicate the human trafficking epidemic by raising funds and awareness for the cause.
Friday, 19 September 2014 08:33
As a fitness coach and a mother, Melissa Monteforte of Locust Valley knows how important it is to stay healthy, and how difficult it can be for women to make themselves, and their health, a priority. Wanting to help women take charge and feel more in control, she organized the Fit & Healthy Mamas Annual 5K run, now in its third year, which took place on Saturday, Sept. 13 at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow.
“I felt like running was the best outlet when I became a mother; it’s such a great way to get fit and feel healthy and I wanted to share that with other moms,” says Monteforte, 31. “I wanted women to feel celebrated, no matter their fitness level, and to put their health first.”