Written by Daniel Offner Friday, 09 May 2014 00:00
Farmingdale school district administrators are taking the district’s proposed 2014-2015 budget on tour in an effort to inform voters about its $156.4 million spending plan, which would increase the district’s levy 1.74 percent from last year.
According to Farmingdale Schools Superintendent John Lorentz, this year’s budget looks to maintain the integrity of the district’s programs. However, he said, it comes with a reduction in teachers and support staff and a slight increase in class size.
“Class sizes will get a little bit larger,” Lorentz said. “But the quality and integrity [of the classroom] will remain essentially intact.”
Not everyone was so enthusiastic about the news. Farmingdale parent Camille Toma said she was concerned. “Class size is a big indicator of the quality of instruction,” Toma said.
Assistant Superintendent of Business Paul Defendini said the average class size for elementary school students in grades K-5 is going up from 22 to 22.3 students in the 2014-2015 school year. He added that typically, the district tries to keep kindergarten class sizes under 21 students.
Based on the slides—that school officials will be passing out to different community organizations—the proposed 2014-2015 budget also includes the following reductions: number of K-5 sections; number of elementary P.E. and art sections; high school core sections; PAGE program; high school
P.E. and art sections; middle school technology and family consumer science; attendance and social work services and fifth grade general music .It would also eliminate sixth grade introduction to foreign language, and computer skills electives.
However, the presentation showed that the future is not completely grim for New York State taxpayers.
According to Defendini, in the upcoming fiscal year, New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo has plans to implement a property tax freeze that will provide local taxpayers with a rebate--provided the district stays within the levy limit--which will cover the cost of the property tax increase next year.
“Every resident gets a check in the mail for the increase in the tax bill, as long as the district stays within the levy limit,” Defendini said.
Because the district had the foresight to put money in reserves, it will seek voters approval this year to allocate funding from the reserves towards capital improvement projects. This will come at no cost to taxpayers, as the funding is already available.
In case you missed the presentation, the district has posted slides on its website at farmingdaleschools.org. It also lists when and where there will be upcoming presentations from the district leading up to the school budget vote on May 20.