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Letter: Levittown Can’t Afford Bloated School Budget

It would be a community service if you would point out to your readers that Levittown is again leading all Nassau County schools. Unfortunately, it is for having the highest proposed  expenditure budget increase, 6.12 percent, not counting the busing proposition #2, which will add .73 percent more (6.85 percent total.)

Not a single Nassau school district is listed in Newsday as greater than 3.80 percent (Herricks), with the Nassau County average only 2.54 percent. In fact, if not for tiny Montauk, with 312 students, Levittown would be the highest percentage increase in Suffolk County also.

In addition, note the comparisons below for projected per pupil expenditures:

Levittown-$193,543,816 for projected 7,614 students ($25,419 per student)

Massapequa-$176,172,498 for projected 8,100 students ($21,750 per student)

East Meadow-$178,184,341 for projected 7,210 students ($24,714 per student)

Sewanhaka*-$156,303,202 for projected 8,392 students ($18,625 per student)

*secondary  only

Oceanside-$128,584,216 for projected 6,054 students ($21,240 per student)

Bethpage-$72,882,764 for projected 3,104 students ($23,480 per student)

Hicksville- $114,172,211 for projected 5,216 students ($21,889 per student)

Island Trees-$57,020,084 for projected 2,559 students ($22,282 per student)

Wantagh- $69,182,285 for projected 3,498 students ($19,778 per student)

Seaford-$53,614,962 for projected 2,567 students ($20,886 per student)

Plainedge- $76,495,500 for projected 3,391 students ($22,558 per student)

Sachem-$280,711,665 for projected 1,4821 students ($18,940 per student)

Commack- $160,732,838 for projected 7,569 students ($21,236 per student)

Three Village-$167,112,686 for projected 7,410 students ($22,552 per student)

Half Hollow-$207,881,882 for projected 10,110 students ($20,562 per student)

Connetquot-$161,836,925 for projected 6,635 students ($24,391 per student)

If we go to a contingency budget, and cut $11-12 million more out, we will still be $3 to $5 million higher than East Meadow and Massapequa. How is that possible?

Yes, in all fairness, there are districts that are higher than Levittown in per pupil expenditures. Syosset, Jericho, Great Neck, Hewlett, Locust Valley and Roslyn come to mind. However, that is where our administrators and teachers can afford to live. Not the average overtaxed Levittown resident.

Hopefully, after the first budget is defeated on May 18, and it should be, overwhelmingly, the board of education will follow the recommendation of its own Citizens Budget Committee, and cut this bloated budget down to a figure of $185 million, which will pass on the second vote.

Look around at all the boarded up stores in our community, and understand that we are in big trouble. There are two or three churches struggling to survive. The ICC temple left Levittown and joined a Wantagh temple. There are up to 1,000 Levittown homes reportedly in various stages of foreclosure. Even if it was only 500, that is horrible. These are our friends and neighbors. We cannot allow this to happen.

Dr. Sirois has been bragging that the district has cut over $9 million dollars from the budget in the last two years. If they hadn’t, the budget would now be $203 million. Aren’t we lucky? He neglected to mention that at the audited closing of the 2008-9 books, we had over $7 million unspent, and over $7 million in extra, unplanned revenue. $14 million extra, and the current 2009-10 budget went up about $5 million more. This year, administration projects about $10-12 million surplus on June 30.

Still, they want us to approve an $11 million increase. Not I!

I will, however, vote for newcomer Tom Kohlman, who has earned my respect for  tirelessly coming to meetings to learn what is really going on, and for speaking up on issues of importance to this district. He cares about this community.

Gary Fisch

(Mr. Fisch is a former Levittown School Board member.)