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School Taxes Study Marks Levittown BOE Meeting

School taxes and questions about the district’s kindergarten classes took center stage at the most recent meeting of the Levittown Board of Education held in the Levittown Memorial Education Center on Wednesday, Nov. 3.

Following the board’s recognition of a vibrant art display by students from Northside Elementary School, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Herman Sirois reported on the results of a 15-year Internal Benchmark Analysis regarding the district’s taxes.

Prefacing his report by noting that NYS school taxes are among the highest in the nation, Sirois told the audience of 40 that school districts are usually more fiscally conservative than any government agency.

“Many Levittown residents think that their taxes are the highest in Nassau County but actually the reverse is true,” he said.

Discussing district tax and enrollment trends, Sirois said that during the district’s founding years from 1950 through 1965, taxes increased dramatically every year due to constantly increasing enrollment.

“During the period from 1965 to 1980, enrollment peaked and taxes started to moderate,” he said.

He also reported that the period from 1980 through 1995 saw the beginning of lower tax increases, averaging about 7 percent per year.

Further, Sirois added that in the last 15 years the district has experienced its lowest tax increases since its inception, and that current district taxes are well below the Nassau County average.

An additional explanation of the study findings appeared in the Friday, Nov. 12 edition of the Levittown Tribune on Page 21 under a “From the Desk of Dr. Herman Sirois” titled Comprehensive Report on Levittown School Taxes.

Levittown resident Christine Monniello, who also has been teaching in Valley Stream for the past 12 years, asked the board why full-day kindergarten has not been instituted in the district. “What are the obstacles to having full-day kindergarten instruction?” she asked.

Dr. Sirois responded that full-day kindergarten has been “on the agenda since 2001.” He said that the board is currently considering a bond issue to build additional space for kindergarten classes. But, he also said that the building space is not really the issue right now. “Funding is the real issue; we just need to have the budget to support it,” he said.

Board President Michael Pappas said the board would take a “serious look” at all-day kindergarten for next school year.

In other business, district resident and activist Jason Fine expressed his displeasure at not being allowed to serve on the food service committee.

Pappas told Fine that he was one of the district’s top volunteers. However, he also noted that the board is making a concerted effort to make the operation of the various committees more streamlined and effective.

“Everything the board does is trial and error, to some extent,” Trustee Ed Powers explained. “Our main concern is to try and make all committees more efficient.”

The board accepted five separate generous donations from businesses and private citizens including: $500 for the MacArthur Renaissance program, given by Jacqueline M. Koplik of Wantagh, two checks each in the amount of $500 for scholarships at Division Avenue High School, given by Lifetouch of Farmingdale, a tree/shrub/mums and memorial plaque for the East Broadway grounds, given by Mr. and Mrs. Christopher Gartelman of Wantagh, 18 tickets to an Islander game for Summit Lane students (Get A Voice Program), given by the NY Islanders Hockey Club, Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, and $500 for a scholarship at Division Avenue High School, given by Answer Vending of Farmingdale.

A special public board meeting had been called to follow the regularly scheduled planning session on Wednesday, Nov. 17 at 7:30 p.m. in order to discuss and appoint members to the 2011-2012 Citizens Advisory Committee for Budget.

The next regular Levittown School District Board of Education meeting will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 15 at the Levittown Memorial Education Center at 150 Abbey Lane. The public session begins at 7:30 p.m. This meeting will be devoted to reports from the superintendent of schools and board members, regular agenda items of old and new business and schedules. Immediately following board members reports, a period not to exceed two hours shall be set aside to afford residents of the community and/or school district employees an opportunity to make comments or to raise questions related to school affairs. Copies of the agenda are available to the residents of the district at the office of the Board of Education three days prior to the meeting date. Copies of agendas are also available three days prior to meeting date at the Levittown Public Library. Tapes of meetings are available at the Levittown Public Library.