Written by Lydia Robledo Friday, 17 May 2013 00:00
Westbury residents came out to voice their opinion on the Board of Education budget recently. Most residents seemed pleased with the budget, which is below the tax cap.
In creating the proposed budget, Superintendent Mary Lagnado stated, the board “wanted to maintain the integrity of our educational programs. That was the most important thing.”
The other goals the board sought to accomplish were an increase in supplies and textbooks requiring core requirements, no teacher layoffs post-attrition, and schedule changes in Park Avenue to cut transportation costs.
With the proposed budget, the board is saving $1 million dollars by TRS smoothing, $350,000 on outsourcing certified teachers from other academic institutions such as St. Josephs for kindergarten, over $600,000 on not replacing retired teachers, and over $163,000 on schedule changes taking place in Park Avenue School.
“When we reduced the TRS expense originally, it also reduces the maximum our tax levy can go up. Now with the reduction, that means that the most we can go up this year is less than 2 percent, its 1.67 percent, which is very good news for the taxpayer” Lagnado said.
Westbury resident Vanessa Di Dominico raised concerns about why special education, currently provided by BOCES, cannot be outsourced through private companies as a way to save money like they have done with the kindergarten teachers.
“We do look to see where we can save money in that area but all of our services are mandated,” Lagnado replied. “When the committee of Special Ed. meets, they’re thinking about the child, what’s best for the child.”
Larry Kirton asked the board if funding for any particular line items in the budget, such as summer school or after school tutorials, had been increased for next year.
“We have not increased the budget lines but we do have other funding available to us. We have partnerships with SUNY Old Westbury, and other foundations that are going to also provide funding for our programs,” Lagnado replied.
Kirton also asked if there been any direction from the board in terms of increasing funding in any particular line item at all.
“With the tax cap limitation as 1.67, our hands are tied as to what we can do. What people have to realize now is that [the budget] is not instruction-driven, it’s actually financially driven,” said Lagnado. “You have a certain amount of money, you know what that’s going to be, and then you have to make do with what you have.”
The budget vote is May 21.