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Budget Passes By Wide Margin

Incumbents re-elected; referendums approved

It was one of those rare elections where every candidate for the Roslyn Board of Education was going to win some time on the board.

In the countywide May 21 elections, three Roslyn school board seats were up for election. Two were for regular three-year terms, while the other was held to fill the vacancy left by longtime board member Dani Kline.

Bruce Valauri and Steven Litvack, the top two vote-getters, were re-elected to those three-year terms, while newcomer David Dubner was elected to fill Kline’s unexpired term. Valauri received 602 votes, while Litvack had 596 tallies, finishing slightly ahead of Dubner, who received 589 votes in his first campaign for the school board.

Further dramaticizing their contentment with the way the district is being run, voters approved the 2013-14 budget of $102,065,212 by a comfortable 612-266 vote. According to school officials, the budget-to-budget increase is 2.63 percent, and the projected tax levy increase is 2.11 percent.

“We remain committed to the goals of educational excellence and budget restraint,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Dan Brenner following the vote. “We are as determined as ever to introduce instructional innovations that benefit the community’s children, but to do so in a way that does not adversely impact taxpayers. It is very gratifying that Roslyn’s voters continue to recognize these efforts.”

Prior to the vote, Dr. Brenner had praised the prudent policies of the board.

“In the face of…budget pressures, many if not most districts in our region have for several years in a row been forced to cut programs and lay off teachers and other staff,” he noted in a column published in The Roslyn News. “The children in Roslyn have been more fortunate. While other schools are in a prolonged period of retrenchment, Roslyn continues to institute new programs and expand existing ones. The taxpayers in Roslyn have also been more fortunate. While other districts are depleting their reserve funds just to keep the tax levy from going off the charts, Roslyn’s school board has very carefully mapped out a plan to use our reserves to balance the tax levy, fund capital projects and prepare for other contingencies.”

In addition, The Bryant Library’s proposed budget for 2013-14 was approved as were two referendums. Proposition 3, which asked voters to approve to transfer of $4,062,000 from Capital Reserve Funds for capital projects, was approved by a healthy 633-218 margin. In addition, Proposition 4, which called for the lease-purchase of three school buses and two vans to replace aging vehicles received a similar 627-237 approval.

In his campaign, Litvack, along with Valauri, praised the proposed budget, along with what he termed “innovative initiatives that spark an educational drive,” including iPads, a China exchange program and “elective opportunities for all students.” He reiterated his commitment to extra-curricular activities, including sports and clubs, plus “our collaborative efforts with our community to renovate our campuses and provide an environment that is attractive, comfortable, student-friendly and encourages learning.”

Echoing comments made by Dr. Brenner, Valauri praised fellow board members for helping to make the Roslyn district “fiscally sound relative to many of our neighboring districts.”

“As a trustee, my focus has been to assist in creating budgets that reflect the concerns of the taxpayers and support the needs of our students. I will work to continue the recent efforts to augment our facilities and to maintain our student body’s achievements in academics, athletics and the arts. I have served on committees of the Board of Education and have worked closely with community members in efforts to evaluate the way we can make improvements and upgrades to our facilities.”

Dubner, for his part, cited his experience on the school district’s Citizens Audit Advisory Committee.  

“I believe that responsible budgets will continue to be the bedrock of our future success,” he said during the campaign. “We need to preserve successful programs while also supporting new initiatives to enrich our children across K-12. We must challenge our administration and teachers to identify opportunities and then find cost-effective ways to execute them.  We must also continue to invest in our infrastructure and technology to remain competitive. And, importantly, we must do this against the backdrop of a two percent tax cap and growing unfunded state mandates.”