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Westbury Community Votes Down School Budget on Second Attempt

District Now Implements Contingency Budget for 2011-2012 Year

On the second attempt to pass the 2011-2012 Westbury School District budget, residents voted down the revised budget by a total of 63 votes – 567 in favor and 630 against.

With approximately $700K in reductions in the second budget, Westbury Superintendent of Schools Dr. Constance Clark-Snead told The Westbury Times, “We felt that we were being responsive to the community by doing that. We were very sensitive to the community. We thought by adding additional funding to reduce the tax levy that certainly we would’ve received support from the community.”

The district will consequently utilize a contingency budget for the upcoming school year, which contains a number of restrictions for district expenditures.

“We’re not to do any capital projects unless it’s a health and safety issue, for example, if a roof caves in, we have to fix it. We cannot purchase any new equipment and student supplies, which we had already reduced,” the superintendent said.

A “major impact” on the community, Dr. Clark-Snead noted, will be how the district will now have to charge for community use of district buildings, citing an outside organization’s talent show as an example.

“We considered the percentage of children within the district that they were servicing, so we gave them breaks in terms of cost, but now we won’t be able to do that by law,” she added.

Prior to the June 21 budget revote, copies of a May 25 memorandum written by the Superintendent to the trustees of the board of education was circulated. It stated:

“In accordance with the language of my employment contract, paragraph THIRD(b), I am required to remind members of the Board of Education of the notification requirement of June 30, 2011 and your intent to extend the terms of the contract. For your consideration, I am requesting an extension of the contract to 2013.

“I would also like to request that the Board consider defining any future salary increases within the terms of this contract extension, given the possibility of a superintendent salary cap taking effect prior to the end of the term of this legislative session. I propose a defined increase of no less than 3% increase to my salary, beginning July 1, 2011, and on July 1 for each subsequent year of my term as superintendent.”

Responding to the release of the memo, Clark-Snead said, “One of the board members, evidently, released it to an outside person, which is quite inappropriate. In that memo, in the last year, let’s say the plan extended beyond ‘13, I had asked for a cost of living increase of 3 percent.

“That’s the last year and I have not received any increase for this past school year or any school year going forward,” she said, noting voting for the contract stipulations has yet to take place.

Regarding the low voter turnout, Clark-Snead explained, “I think some people forgot to vote. Also, I think all of the negative information that was put out there.”

Clark-Snead said she still feels the district is moving forward “in an aggressive manner,” and that there is a 95 percent graduation rate for African Americans and that figure for Hispanics is “on the rise” at 69 percent.

“Are we where we want to be? Not quite, but we’re getting there,” she said.