Written by Eric Holden Friday, 11 March 2011 00:00
Members of the Levittown District Board of Education met at the Memorial Education Center on Wednesday, March 2 to discuss a revised budget plan for the 2011-12 school year.
In the meeting, Superintendent Dr. Herman Sirois gave an overview of the current fiscal situation that the district is facing and a line-by-line review of the school board’s budget planning for the upcoming school year.
Due to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposed statewide education cuts, Levittown’s Board of Education has been forced to dig deep to find solutions to tighten their budget.
In total, Cuomo has proposed cutting New York State’s school spending to $19.5 billion from $21.2 billion, and districts across Long Island are scrambling to find ways to reduce their operating expenditures to adhere to the governor’s plans.
Cuomo hopes for approximately $4.5 million in Levittown district education cuts for the 2011-12 school year.
“It’s been said that we’re in a somewhat better financial position than other districts,” said Sirois. “The fact that we can even talk about next year is certainly to our benefit, but it’s still a very serious fiscal outlook for us.”
The budget revisions being worked on by the board call for a reduction in operating costs in the district by $4.3 million for the 2011-12 school year, including cuts of approximately $250,000 from equipment in the district’s instructional technology program. One full-time employment position from that department would also be removed, as well as a tightening up on contingency positions created by maternity leave and sick time.
There may also be cuts made to the district’s music department, as private lessons are proposed to be reduced by half under the new revised budget plan.
“We’re looking at the cuts other districts are working on across Long Island,” said Sirois. “If they can tighten up on certain programs like instructional technology and others, then perhaps we can as well. The good news is that this proposal would get us through the next two years. The future is not as bleak as it seems.”
The board is also looking to save $100,000, paid toward overtime dues for athletic practices, while subtracting $400,000 from maintenance costs.
Another planned revision is in the size of classes at the elementary and middle school levels. Elementary schools would add one student per class, from 22 to 23, and middle schools would go from 25 to 27 students. The board said that they aimed to make reductions that will have the least amount of negative impact to the quality of education received by students in the district.
“If we make these reductions, they have to stay out,” said Sirois. “Otherwise we’re not making any long-term impact on our fiscal situation. We need to keep supporting these programs, but also be sensitive to our need to make necessary reductions.”
The meeting was not open to a public comment or question period; local residents did not have a chance to voice their concerns.
The board will meet again on Wednesday, March 16 at 7:30 p.m. at the Levittown Memorial Education Center to hear PTA and CAC budget recommendations and review budget information regarding Special Education, Technology and Pupil Services.