On Tuesday, May 21, residents of the Elmont School District will vote on the 2002-2003 school year operating budget of $46,829,585, an increase of 9.1 percent.
If the budget is approved by voters, residents of the district will realize a significant increase in the tax rate. The average residents would pay an additional $347.98 or $6.97 per $100 of assessed valuation.
According to the Elmont School District, efforts were made to develop a very efficient budget. The district eliminated three classroom positions, one physical education position, one remedial services position and one library/technology position. In addition, funds for new textbooks district-wide have been reduced; services for special education students have been redesigned to contain costs; costs have been contained in the teacher aide category for special education and general supervision; funds requested for general supplies and equipment have been reduced as well as after school services. The district also points out that the Elmont School District spends less per pupil than any other district in Nassau County.
However, other factors have led to a $6.97 per $100 of assessed valuation increase, which are not in the district's control. According to the district, school budgets are being unfavorably impacted by a freeze in state aid. In addition, there are significant increases in special education expenditures statewide. Elmont is impacted more than most districts because of its high number of students with special needs.
Elmont, like other districts, has had to cope with higher mandated expenditures and lower state assistance. In addition, Elmont does not have a fund balance to offset the tax levy when $1,100,000 went toward the budget. Also, local revenues have decreased by $950,000, particularly from interest income, and excess cost aid does not increase despite special education cost increases.
All this amounts to an impact on residents' pockets whether the budget is approved or not. If voters reject the proposed budget, the board of education, in accordance with state law, will approve a contingency budget.
For Elmont, the contingency budget amounts to $45,854,584. As opposed to the average estimated tax increase of $347.98 for the proposed budget, the average tax increase for the contingency budget would be $293.55 or $5.88 per $100 of assessed valuation.