Written by Levittown Superintendent of Schools Herman Sirois Friday, 12 November 2010 00:00
At its Wednesday, Nov. 3 meeting the Levittown Board of Education reviewed a comprehensive analysis of school district finances covering the entire history of the Levittown school district. The report analyzed annual tax levy increases for each of four 15-year periods during the last 60 years. The facts contained in this report are good news for the residents of our school district, and challenge some mistaken assumptions about school taxes in Levittown.
Data covering four time periods, 1950 to 1965, 1965 to 1980, 1980 to 1995, and 1995 to the present reveal that annual school tax increases in the past 15 years (1995-2010) have been at the lowest levels than in any other period in the history of the school district, averaging over ten percent less per year than in the prior fifteen-year period from 1980-1995, and over twenty percent lower than the fifteen years preceding that (1965-1980). The average annual school tax increases for each period were as follows: 18 percent from 1950 to 1965; 7.9 percent from 1965 to 1980; 7 percent from 1980 to 1995; and 6.2 percent from 1995 to 2010.
The recent lower annual tax increases are the result of the Board of Education’s continued implementation of the district’s multi-year budget planning process over the past 15 years. The district’s multi-year budget strategies have enabled our school boards to bring traditionally erratic tax increases under control, eliminating the pattern of unpredictable fluctuations in annual school tax increases that had frustrated district residents prior to 1995.
The analysis, also, reveals that during the last 15 years annual tax levy increases have been aligned with actual annual expenditure increases, also, for the first time in the history of the school district. Traditionally, and particularly during the 30 years from 1965 through 1995, Levittown Boards of Education were forced to raise annual tax levies at almost twice the rates of actual expenditure increases. Again, due to the district’s strategic financial planning since 1995, Levittown Boards of Education have been able to keep annual tax increases at the same, and lower, levels as actual expenditures.
In addition to posting lower annual school tax increases, the study showed that the combination of the school district’s dramatic improvements in student achievement, along with its control of school tax increases, have resulted in lower school taxes as compared to Nassau County and most neighboring school districts, and in a narrowing of the traditional gap in home equity between Levittown and neighboring school districts, which has decreased by half since 1992.
Both New York State and district auditors have acknowledged the strength of Levittown’s current financial position, and have recommended continued support for the principles of multi-year budget planning. Such planning supports the district’s vision of continuous progress in student academic standards and performance for all students.