Great Neck voters approve $234.42M school budget

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Donna Peirez was re-elected to serve as school board trustee in Great Neck. (Photo courtesy of Great Neck Public Schools)
Donna Peirez was re-elected to serve as school board trustee in Great Neck. (Photo courtesy of Great Neck Public Schools)

Great Neck voters approved a $234.42 million school district budget and a $9.65 million library budget on Tuesday, with more than three-quarters of voters saying “yes” to both proposals.

The school budget was approved 1,289 to 256, or 83.43% in favor, meaning district residents will see the tax levy go up $3.94 million, or 1.94 percent, from $203.57 million to just under $207.52 million. The budget is increasing 1.99 percent from $229.84 million.

The district could have increased the levy by up to 4.09 percent under the state tax cap due to a combination of high capital project expenditures expected over the summer, changes to the tax base and other factors.

The estimated tax rate is going to be $719.47 per $100 of assessed value for class I residential homes, according to Assistant Superintendent for Business John Powell.

About 80 percent of the budget goes toward programming, which includes teacher salaries, benefits, instructional materials and other items. The rest goes toward capital expenditures – unrelated to projects pertaining to a $68.3 million bond – and administration costs.

Officials previously said the budget will support ongoing programs, add teaching positions to handle rising enrollment, and add staff to support English as a New Language and special education services. It also comes with a roaming nurse and two guards, and expands the universal pre-K program to John F. Kennedy Elementary School.

Donna Peirez, the chair of the school board’s policy committee and a former longtime Lakeville Elementary School teacher and parent leader, also won her uncontested race with 1,227 votes.

Peirez was not immediately available for comment on Wednesday.

“I feel that my job is not complete, that I still bring a different perspective than anyone else that’s serving on the board and am able to see so many different points of view,” Peirez said in an interview last month. “I would like to help continue to help our school district provide our students with programs, academics, arts, sports and opportunities that will prepare them for their future endeavors.”

Turnout in this election appeared to be closer to the usual; according to school district figures made available to the Great Neck News on Wednesday, 983 people voted in 2015 and 1,167 people voted in 2016.

The 2017 elections were unusual, in that more than 8,500 people cast ballots to decide on a $223.3 million school budget, a controversial $68.3 million bond proposal and contested trustee races.

Nearly 2,200 people cast ballots in the 2018 elections to approve the $229.84 million budget 1,856 to 333, with 84.7% of voters saying yes.

Voters also approved the Great Neck Library’s proposed $9.65 million budget 1,199 to 323, with 77.6% of voters saying “yes.”

This supports operations of the Main Library in Great Neck and the Station, Lakeville and Parkville branch libraries and is roughly the same overall as last year’s budgets.

“The Board of Trustees and staff of the Great Neck Library appreciate the support of the community, shown by the overwhelming approval of the Library’s operating budget,” acting Director Tracy Van Dyne said. “Thank you for your vote of confidence which enables the Library to continue to deliver services that are responsive to the needs of the community.”

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