Written by Chris Boyle Thursday, 20 February 2014 00:00
The Levittown Board of Education met on Feb. 11 for the first workshop in a series of several scheduled over the upcoming months to keep the public appraised of how their tax dollars are being spent.
According to Assistant Superintendent of Business and Finance William J. Pastore, who gave a presentation on the District’s budget for the next school year, Levittown is working hard to ensure a balanced spending plan while avoiding cuts and making the most of the resources available.
“This budget is designed to enhance the instructional program,” he said. “It maintains the athletic, art, and music programs, and well as current class sizes and guidelines, and it utilizes our reserve funds.”
The Levittown 2014-2015 budget, in its current form, comes in at approximately $199.67 million; this represents a budget-to-budget increase of 2.09 percent over last year’s $195.59 million spending plan.
The tax levy, according to Pastore, is set at 1.62 percent, which amounts to $133.28 million, and the District is anticipating an increase in the amount of New York State financial aid as well.
Pastore outlined some of the factors that the District is facing that caused the budget creation process for next year to be especially difficult.
“Salaries, equipment and supplies, and transportation costs are increasing, as well as BOCES services that mostly cover the Special Ed department,” he said. “There are also increases in employee benefits...that’s most of where the increases are coming from.”
In addition, Superintendent of Schools James Grossane conducted a brief presentation of the possibility of an expansion of the District’s current Pre-Kindergarten program.
“The goal of a Pre-Kindergarten program is to eventually raise student achievement,” he said.
Grossane noted that, given the numbers involved, expansion of the District’s Pre-K program is possible, but unfortunately not into full-day status as many were hoping.
“Currently, we have about 135 students covered by our universal Pre-K grant that we received from New York State several years ago...that’s about $375,000. If we used our current Pre-K model, we would have to be ready to service an additional 365 students if we want to offer to all students in the district,” he said.
Another notable topic at the Board of Education meeting that evening was the consideration of granting a school tax exemption to members of the Levittown community who were veterans of the armed services; the proposed percentages of the exemption, according to Grossane, would vary based on the specifics of the vet’s service.
Grossane said that there are three categories—veterans who were non-combat, veterans who had seen combat, and veterans who are disabled. “Those values would be shifted from the veterans to the other tax payers in the district, and that will mean an increase for the average homeowner of about $55 in school tax,” Grossane said.
In order to pass the proposed veteran school tax exemption, the Board of Education must hold a public hearing on the subject on March 12.