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BOE Approves $209 Million Budget

The Syosset Board of Education unanimously approved the district’s 2013-14 budget of $209,054,963 during its Wednesday evening school board meeting - a 5.5 percent increase of $11 million increase from last year.

The district will come in below the tax cap of 3.0 percent at 2.8 percent, with a maximum allowable tax levy limit including exclusions and exemptions of $188,229,063. The tax levy limit is $183,028,521, and coming year exemptions are TRS above two percent of $2.4 million and capital tax levy of $2.8 million.

Assistant Superintendent for Business Patricia M. Rufo announced that the 2013-14 budget enables the district to continue all programs.

“Your children will be able to come to school next year and find the same programs, actives, clubs and sports. Syosset will have another year to keep education going well,” Superintendent of Schools Carole G. Hankin said.

In Rufo’s outline of the tax cap, she announced the district net state aid to be $9,843,008, which saw a $400,000 increase from the school board’s last revenue discussion.

Hankin recalled instances where the district was notified by NY State that a refunded amount of state aid had to be given back, and said the $400,000 increase is a “fairly safe amount of new money.”

“This has actually lowered the tax levy, so the tax payers really are getting $400,000 less in taxes they have to pay,” Hankin said.

State aid is comprised of mostly ‘flex aid/foundation aid,’ which is $7,991,433. The second highest state aid figure is BOCES aid, which is $1,198,021. The Gap Elimination Adjustment, which according to Rufo was imposed several years ago by NY State to eliminate their budget gap, reduces state aid by $2,168,000, as well as other deductions of $184,396.

Total state aid and local revenue, which includes charges for services and use of money and property, totaled at $21.1 million, with a general fund tax levy of $187,798,923.

In other news:

-The school board unanimously appointed three teachers to tenure on Wednesday evening in the following areas: Lisa Greiner, Elementary Principal of Baylis Elementary School; Thomas Allen, Administrative Assistant at Syosset High School and Raymond Gessner, Secondary Assistant Principal at Syosset High School. These appointments took effect on Wednesday evening.

-In light of the recent resignation of Trustee Lana Ajemian this month, Board of Education President Michael Cohen read a letter from Ajemian, at her request, stating she will no longer be a Syosset resident “on or about April 15.” Withholding specific details, Cohen said: “We all wish her the best, which has been a very difficult time.” In her letter, Ajemian stated: “I am sincerely proud of all we have accomplished under the visionary leadership of Dr. Hankin and her cabinet, and the dedicated staff of quality educators, administrators and support personnel – keeping students first and foremost.”

With her seat vacated, the school board unanimously voted to complete the election next month, and the candidate who has the most votes will be swore in immediately as a board trustee.  Faced with two other options, which were to appoint a resident as trustee to fill the remainder of the term, which Cohen stated is “essentially six or seven weeks,” or to hold a special election for the remainder of the term, the school board felt that given the little time left in the school year, the first option was the most suitable selection.

-The school board voted to suspend the district’s Finance Committee for the remainder of the school year, which saw opposing viewpoints and resulted in Trustees Christopher DiFillippo and Joshua Lafazan opposing the suspension, and Vice President April Neuendorf abstaining. According to Cohen, there was a person from the public who was not on the committee, and was “quasi-involved with the committee as a member,” which he said is “unacceptable.” The committee will be revisited over the summer.

Neuendorf, said her abstention was based on “listening to the general consensus of board members questioning if the community would be best served to have a finance committee independent of board member involvement, as well as allow time before revisiting to reflect on whether my presence at the meeting may have censored discussion and views of committee members.”