East Williston schools lay out $59.8M budget proposal for 2018-19

East Williston Superintendent Elaine Kanas, at podium, and assistant superintendents Danielle Gately, left, and Sydney Freifelder, center, presented the $59.8 million budget at Tuesday's meeting. (Photo by Rebecca Klar)

The East Williston school district presented a plan for a $59.83 million budget for 2018-19 that would be within the allowable rise in the tax levy during Tuesday’s budget workshop meeting.

The proposed budget calls for a 2.65 percent increase from the current $58.29 million budget.

The property tax levy would increase 3.06 percent from $52.95 million to $54.57 million, according to the school district, which falls within the 3.5 percent state tax cap.

The budget is a little less than $299,470 below the allowable budget under the tax cap, according to the district’s presentation.

The largest portion of the budget is $45,697,453, or 76 percent of the total budget, for program costs. The rest of the budget is made up of administrative costs, worth 11 percent of the budget, and capital costs, worth 12.6 percent.

The budget includes an 11.15 percent increase in the Teachers’ Retirement System costs and a 12.78 percent increase in the Employees’ Retirement System costs.

Health insurance costs also increased by 6.08 percent.

Another budget driver is transportation costs, which increased by 13.1 percent.

Contract transportation is an additional $226,525 in the budget.

The transportation increase was largely due to an influx of students who registered in the East Williston schools after the current budget was approved, said Sydney Freifelder, interim assistant superintendent for business.

“With all that we’ve been able to maintain the tax cap and stayed within a tax levy below that tax cap and provide the best possible education we could,” Freifelder said.

Some highlights of the budget include STEM (or science, technology, engineering and math) improvements such as expanding the Chromebook one-to-one initiative to grades two through 12, expanding opportunities at Willet Roads School’s innovation lab and installing 40 Interactive Flat Panel boards at all three schools, said Danielle Gately, assistant superintendent for instruction and personnel.

Other budget highlights include continuing the Peru and Italy exchange trips and expanding the social science research program at the Wheatley School, Gately said.

There will also be a health class for all fifth-grade students in the new Willets Road schedule, Gately said.

Throughout March, there will be four more budget meetings featuring presentations from different departments.

On March 7, the special education budget components and technology budgets components will be presented.

On March 14, the athletic budget will be presented, as well as presentations from staff at North Side School, Willets Road School and the Wheatley School.

March 21 will be a budget deliberation.

March 26 will be the final budget deliberation.

Members of the public can vote on May 15 from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the Wheatley gymnasium.

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Rebecca Klar

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