Written by Emily J. Cappiello Thursday, 23 May 2013 00:00
As the budget season drew to a close this week, the Levittown Board of Education did everything in its power to make sure that all residents were fully armed with the correct budget information as they headed to the polls.
Dr. James Grossane, superintendent of schools, went through the most recent budget numbers with attendees at the most recent public meeting on May 14, telling the group that the board decided to go with a 2.98 increase for the 2013-14 school year, within the 2 percent tax cap levy. The district is looking for about $131.9 million from taxpayers for the upcoming school year.
Grossane highlighted some of the driving factors around the 2013-14 school budget. These included a $3.4 million salary increase, a $4.4 million pension benefits increase and a $1.9 million increase in health care benefits. “Basically, 58 percent of the budget is spent on salary; 26 percent is benefits, 4 percent goes to BOCES, 4 percent is contractual, 3 percent goes to materials and supplies, 2 percent goes to debt services and then there are some miscellaneous things that make up 3 percent,” Grossane said.
Grossane also explained that even though the board only asked for about $131.9 million from taxpayers, the board approved a district budget of $195,590,207. The additional money needed will come from New York State aid, of which the district got a slight increase for the upcoming school year, fund balance and reserve money.
“We are operating for the first time in a deficit budget. This will be the last budget in which we will be able to pay all of our bills,” Grossane said. However, he said that there are other districts that are far worse off than Levittown. “Sachem, one of the biggest districts on Long Island, has about a $26 million deficit. They are closing schools and laying people off,” he said.
“We are running lean and mean, but that’s what we have to do right now.” He added that the money in the reserve fund should be able to cover the increase in spending for the next three or four budgets.
In addition, the district asked for $25 million in capital reserve money at the budget vote held on Tuesday, May 21.
However, the district is in for more hard days ahead. “Right now, we have 7,360 students in K through 12. Enrollment is declining,” he said.
Despite that, Grossane said that he was proud of everything the students of the district accomplished. “Eighty-nine percent of the class of 2012 is going to college; 90 percent of our graduates received a Regents diploma in 2012 and 63 percent of those received an advanced Regents diploma. Our children are not settling for average; this is showing us that they are going above and beyond,” he said.
Editor’s note: This article was printed before the district’s budget election on May 21. Details about the election results will be printed in the Friday, May 31 edition of the Levittown Tribune.