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Jericho School District Holds Annual Budget Hearing

Unlike other hearings at several neighboring districts, the budget hearing at the Jericho High School Little Theater on Tuesday, May 8, was a quick and quiet affair. After several budget workshops earlier in the season, it appeared that residents had already asked the majority of their budget questions, allowing for a quick hearing that barely lasted 10 minutes.

The adopted 2012-13 budget is $114,468,464, a 2.24 percent increase and a tax levy increase not to exceed 2.20 percent. In order to keep within state-mandated limits, the board approved many reductions, such as reducing three literacy aides, reducing one elementary science teacher, reducing Arts in Education assemblies, and reducing field trips.

However, there are some planned program additions, implemented with existing staff at no additional cost: new applied statistics, Music Theory II, New Media Communications II and Culture in the Spanish Speaking World classes at the high school and increased WiFi access throughout the district. The district is also continuing a 5-year replacement project for desktop computers and continuing to add more SMARTboards.

The 2012-13 budget also includes $1 million for capital projects, which include work on the freight elevators at the middle school/high school building, work on the interior stair enclosure at Cantiague Elementary School and a district-wide lighting upgrade.

“We have worked together to create a budget that provides the highest quality instructional program while being extremely mindful of the financial impact of our taxpayers and still remaining within the tax cap,” said superintendent Hank Grishman, in a budget newsletter distributed before the hearing.

The hearing also included discussion of the library budget. Jericho Library director Barbara Kessler provided a budget overview and fielded some questions from the few residents in attendance. In response to a question about e-books, Kessler said that some of the book budget had been transferred to downloadable content.

“We have e-books to give out, we have downloadables; we’re right on top of it,” she said.

The 2012-13 Jericho Library Budget is $4,746,900, a 1.91 percent increase over last year’s budget. Some new services available at the library that not all residents are yet aware of include self check-out, the ability to use a smartphone as a library card, and the ability to download free music and foreign language lessons to MP3 players.

“The library has lots of hidden treasures, and you’re all invited to participate,” said Kessler.

The school budget vote and library budget vote will take place on Tuesday, May 15 from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Jericho Middle School/High School gym. Current school board members William Ferro and Shawn Gladstone are running unopposed for two open seats, while incumbent Stanley Garfunkel is running unopposed for an open seat on the library board of trustees.

The next meeting of the Jericho Board of Education will take place Thursday, May 17 at the high school Little Theater at 7:30 p.m.