Written by Rachel Shapiro Friday, 19 March 2010 00:00
At a special meeting of the Levittown Board of Education, Superintendent Dr. Herman Sirois presented to the board his recommended budget, which calls for a tax levy increase of 3.47 percent.
Residents were notified about the special meeting, held on Monday, March 15, just a few days before as the board decided an additional meeting was required to discuss the budget. The board’s business meeting and work session was held on Wednesday, March 10, during which the Citizens Budget Advisory Committee and PTA presented their recommendations to the board.
In his budget recommendations, Sirois calls for reducing operating expenditures by $3,073,860 for the 2010/11 budget. This, coupled with the $6.9 million reduction in the 2009/10 budget, leaves little room for reductions in the 2011/12 budget, Board Secretary Peter Porrazzo pointed out. Although in agreement, Sirois stated the cuts need to be made unless the district receives more revenue.
Sirois recommends reducing his own salary and benefits by $141,750, a reduction that is “subject to negotiation,” he noted. He also recommends cutting the position of assistant director of pupil services, among other administrative and clerical positions. The assistant director position saves the district $137,452.
Among the reductions for the budget, Sirois recommends adding study halls for ninth-graders, a move that would reduce five teachers, two and a half at each high school, Sirois said. This would be a savings of $425,000.
He also recommends limiting out-of-district enrollment in the DLC, special education, program and cutting one special education teacher.
The superintendent’s recommendation also includes cutting six elementary school teachers, 1.2 middle school teachers, four teaching assistants and cutting the athletic trainer program for all but 12th graders.
Sirois’ budget cuts outdoor education, the seventh and eighth grade combination baseball team and bowling. He also recommends holding off on $250,000 worth of buildings and grounds repairs and cutting costs related to instructional equipment and hardware.
The only improvement Sirois recommends is adding $45,000 for a districtwide swimming team, something parents and residents have been lobbying for 18 months.
Revenue of $2,000 can be attained if the district charges a 2 percent fuel service surcharge to other school districts that use the Levittown District’s fuel station, Sirois’ recommendation points out.
The superintendent also recommends “segregating” five self-sustaining programs from the general budget and putting them in a control budget. The Levittown After-School Program, Adult Education, Summer Music, Dance and Driver’s Education programs will be put in a separate budget, which doesn’t affect the tax levy, Sirois said.
“It makes the accounting easier and more transparent to make them separate,” he told the Levittown Tribune. “We don’t have to calculate those revenues with our taxes; that gets complicated. When you do that you end up treating them as a general fund and co-mingle the funds.”
The board will deliberate the superintendent’s, CAC’s and PTA’s recommendations before they decide on a budget and will have held another meeting on Wednesday, March 17.
“In adopting a budget we’re adopting a number, once we adopt a number that’s the number,” Board President Dan Bornstein said. However, if the board feels it’s necessary they can still shift things around within those figures.