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Letter: Questions About Levittown SD Budget Re-Vote

(Editor’s note: This letter was circulated to members of the Levittown Property Owners Association this past week. It is printed here with permission. At their meeting on Tuesday, June 8, the LPOA voted unanimously to oppose the Levittown School District’s proposed budget.)

The Board of Directors of the Levittown Property Owners Association would like to present the following facts and ask these questions concerning the recently defeated Levittown School District budget. We had developed many more points of interest but decided that enumerating just a few would be better. Additional points and issues were discussed at the LPOA meeting on June 8.

The original $193 million budget proposal represents a 6.12 percent increase from the previous year. Our understanding is that for the second vote only $700,000 is being removed and that from an “undefined area” of the budget. Another $700,000 is being added to revenue from unapplied reserves (our previously taxed money). How much more is there in reserve? Why? This proposed budget increase is still the highest in Nassau County? Why?

So, as of this writing, only less than 1 percent has been taken out of the original failed proposal. What cuts, if any, were really made? We do not believe that this is a good faith effort to bring this new budget in-line with the wishes of those 3,250 who voted against the original budget just a few short weeks ago.

There are two local school districts, one with a few less (East Meadow) and the other with a few more students than Levittown (Massapequa) whose current passed budgets are approximately $178.2 million (EM) and $176.2 million (Massapequa) and are much less than the rejected Levittown 2010-2011 budget.

Why can they do this and we can’t? What has our administration done to ask for help and find out what these districts are doing correctly and what are we doing wrong? Has our board done an investigation to find out what successful strategies these schools are using?

The Levittown 2008 /09 school budget ended with a $7 million under spent surplus plus $7 million of unbudgeted additional revenue from New York State and other sources.

If we know that mistakes were made last year and we spent less than expected (why is this not a goal for this year?) and had more money than anticipated, why are we budgeting from an estimated much higher starting point again? How much more is surplus in the current 2009-10 budget? Why?

We understand that the School Board Citizens Advisory Committee discovered that there are four secondary special education chairpersons, who are required by contract to teach at least two periods per day. Why are these four chairpersons not scheduled to teach any classes this year? What are the extra costs to us?

It is our understanding that the School Board Citizens Advisory Committee discovered that, by contract, there are at least 21 extra teachers in the six elementary schools alone. So how many extra teachers are we carrying when you add in all four of the secondary schools? What are the extra costs to us? It is our understanding that NYS requires 22 credits for graduation; Levittown is the only School District that requires 27 credits. That is an increase of 22 percent over the NYS requirement. What are the extra costs to us?

We have recently moved from an eight-period day with 47-minute periods to a nine-period day with 42-minutes per period. That is a decrease of just over 10 percent of teaching time per period. Do we think that more credits and periods with less face time per student in each class will help the students learn better? Quantity over quality? Why are we not filling all classes close to the contractual maximum and keeping staff only as needed? What are the extra costs to us?

We have many more questions but there were too many to list here today.

James Morrow Sr.

George Gibson

Andy Booth

Daphne Rus

Gary Fisch

Tom Caro

The Executive Board of the Levittown Property Owners Association