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School Board Adopts Budget For Voter Approval May 15

The Farmingdale school board adopted a budget of $150,567,160 for the 2012-13 school year at the public board of education meeting on April 3 at Howitt Middle School.

Salaries and employee benefits ate up a large chunk of the budget, with $78,345,917 going toward staff compensation and $37,439,051 slated to be used for healthcare costs and other benefits. The 2011-12 budget included $78,053,893 for salaries and $35,264,337 in benefits, so the increases were relatively minor.

Assistant Superintendent for Business Paul Defendini said, “$292,024 in salary is not a significant increase [from last year]; that’s as a result of the teachers for next year taking a true zero - a freeze in salary, no step or salary raises. It’s basically rolling over whatever salary they had for 2011-12 into the 2012-13 school year.”

Defendini added that the $2,174,714 increase from last year in employee benefits was difficult to limit because they are legislatively mandated. “We do have an increase there due to health insurance,” he noted. “There were also increases in that area due to the teacher retirement system and employees’ retirement system.”

Defendini also announced that Governor Cuomo’s proposal that required school districts to fund a portion of pre-school special education costs was recently overturned, which resulted in a savings of $50,000 for the 2012-13 school year. This reduction reduces the budget, and in turn, the tax levy.

The total overall budget increase from last year equates to $2,688,676, or 1.82 percent. Costs for BOCES decreased by $168,581, and other savings were found in contract transportation ($16,529 less than 2011-12) and equipment ($8,840). Slight increases were made in the areas of contract services ($113,048), materials and supplies ($35,437), textbooks ($86,000), tuitions ($220,000) and a tax certiorari ($225,000).

It was announced that voters would also have the option of approving $5,650,000 from capital reserves for a range of school projects that include window repairs and installations for Howitt Middle School ($3,077,110), Saltzman East Memorial ($1,289,115), and Albany Avenue ($1,281,525).

The board will be holding a public hearing on the district budget on May 8, and the community will have the chance to vote on it on May 15.