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On Saturday, Feb. 28, members of the local delegation of state-elected officials joined with members of the education community to lobby for more state aid to Long Island schools at a rally held in Ellsworth Allen Park in Farmingdale.

Pictured (l-r) are Assemblyman Tom Alfano, Assemblyman Bob Barra, Assemblyman Tom McKevitt and state Senator Charles Fuschillo hold up the phone number to the governor's office.
Hundreds came out to demand that Governor David Paterson reconsider his proposal to cut aid to schools in order to close what the governor described as the biggest deficit in state history - a $1.7 billion current-year shortfall and a $13.7 billion 2009-10 deficit.

"Residents on Long Island know that property tax rates are high enough to make any homeowner cringe. Every single year taxes go up and deliver yet another blow to Long Island homeowners who already face some of the highest property tax rates in the state. The reason is simple: The less education funding the state provides, the greater need there is to raise property taxes to cover education costs," said Assemblyman Tom McKevitt, who represents Mineola and attended the rally.

The Mineola School District has been preparing its budget for the 2009-2010 school year as though the district will be receiving a $714,141 or 11.81 percent shortfall in state aid over what the district received in 2008-2009.

Mineola school administrators have thus far come up with a budget for the 2009-2010 that increases spending by 1.17 percent and the tax levy, which is the amount to be raised by tax dollars, by 3.39 percent for an average residential tax increase of $183.26. The budget could be adopted at the March 19 meeting of the board of education.

While Mineola school budget builders have reached their goal of keeping the tax levy increase under 4 percent, it will be reduced further if state aid is restored. Superintendent of Schools Dr. Larry Licopoli is hopeful that state aid will be restored from the federal stimulus funds.

If state aid is restored to its 2008-2009 level, the tax levy increase for the proposed Mineola School budget for the 2009-2010 school year would be 2.53 percent, which would lessen the tax increase taxpayers will realize as a result of increasing costs.

Governor Paterson has been quoted in a published report stating that aid will be restored to school districts.

The Mineola School Board will have difficult decisions to make when it formulates a budget for the 2010-2011 school year at this time next year. The board will have a difficult time keeping the tax levy increase under 4 percent and small class sizes at the same time.

One idea that has been discussed at length is closing a school. The superintendent recommends that the board make that decision by this coming August.


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