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Citizen’s Budget Advisory Committee Presents Report on District’s Budget

The Citizen’s Budget Advisory Committee presented its report on the 2011-12 district budget to the Levittown School Board in a public hearing on Wednesday, March 16 at the Levittown Memorial Education Center.

The committee is comprised of a wide range of volunteers who represent a full spectrum of the Levittown School District. In their reports, they concluded that they do not support the current version of the 2011-12 budget proposal.  

The summary of the committee’s documents presented to the board states that “with the proposed State Aid of about $4,510,575 and the combination of unrestricted reserve ($6,586,911), as well as leftover federal stimulus funds ($342,209) from the District account, we feel that some of the money available could be used to reduce the tax burden on this community.”

Initially, the meeting began on a lighter note, as the board recognized several teachers and students from MacArthur High School for their hard work and achievements.

MacArthur High School Principal Kathleen Valentino introduced Melissa Schachter to the crowd and presented her with a certificate of achievement. Schachter, a student at MacArthur High School, was recently selected to the All-State and All-National Chorus squads.

Among the other honorees were MacArthur athletic coaches Jamie SanFilippo (Winter Track) and Tara Preston (Girls’ Tennis), as well as members of the Levittown Memorial Education Center janitorial staff.

At the conclusion of the honors ceremony, Superintendent Herman Sirois turned the focus of the meeting to Governor Cuomo’s property tax proposal. Sirois urged those in attendance to fill out the downloadable form on the district website that will be sent to the New York State Legislature in regard to state budget cuts.  

The Board of Education wants residents in the district to ask the New York State Legislature not to cut state aid to Levittown schools, which in turn would keep property taxes from rising.

The downloadable form can be found at: http://www.levittownschools.com/forms/lower_taxes/

“Some very tough decisions are being made this year, including staff cuts,” said Sirois. “However, the decisions that impact us the most are being made in Albany. These decisions are going to be made within the next few weeks, so we’re making a big push for letter-writing.”

Dr. George Chesterton, a consultant to the Levittown Business Office, presented a breakdown of the 2010-11 budget and summary of the major proposed changes from this year to next.  

In 2010-11, $110,623,062 went to staff salaries, $39,713,176 to benefits and $42,057,578 went toward other expenses.

The reduction of 21 teaching positions at the high schools in 2011-12 would result in a savings of $1,247,965 and a $133,594 cut to the superintendent’s salary would be another cost-saving measure that would be a drastic 34.83 percent decrease from his current earnings.

On the other hand, there are areas that would see large dollar increases. Additional expertise needed to wire the district would result in an increase of $118,450 in Computer Technology services. Salaries for Speech Therapists in the district are also due to increase by 5.07 percent, as per the terms in the LUT contract.

The next regular Levittown School District Board of Education meeting will be held on Wednesday, April 13 at the Levittown Memorial Education Center at 150 Abbey Lane. The public session begins at 7:30 p.m. This meeting will be devoted to reports from the superintendent of schools and board members, regular agenda items of old and new business and schedules.

Copies of the agenda are available to the residents of the district at the office of the Board of Education three days prior to the meeting date. Copies of agendas are also available three days prior to meeting date at the Levittown Public Library. Tapes of meetings are available at the Levittown Public Library.