East Williston Board of Ed lowers tax levy in light of COVID-19 impact

East Williston Board of Ed lowers tax levy in light of COVID-19 impact
The East Williston School District passed their budget with consideration to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo courtesy of the East Williston School District)

The East Williston School District Board of Education adopted a  revised budget for the 2020–2021 academic year at a special meeting after factoring in the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the financial state of school districts across New York.

The adopted budget of $63,091,128 allows the district to maintain current class sizes and programs while proceeding with year three of its strategic plan initiatives.

The  budget increase is 2.27 percent. The board originally presented a budget that included a 2.93 percent increase, amounting to $63.49 million.

The board lowered the increase in the proposed tax levy at its April 20 meeting.

The district typically receives almost $2 million in state aid, but anticipates receiving nearly 20 percent less this year, said Board President Mark Kamberg.

“There is so much that is unknown in regards to what things are going to cost,” said Kamberg. “We don’t know what’s going on with state aid and we don’t know if we’ll have to spend our unspent budget dollars to cover state aid.”

The board adjusted its proposed tax levy increase to ease the financial burden on residents.

“No matter how you slice it, residents are paying the taxes, and we want to be mindful of that,” Kamberg said.

The adopted budget includes a tax levy increase of 1.99 percent, which is well below the allowable tax levy increase under property tax cap law of 4.09 percent. The board initially recommended a tax levy increase of 3.24 percent.

“We want to be extremely mindful of these financial times that we’re in, and that’s why the board is focused right now on doing everything that we can to lower our levy dollars, the dollars that we collect to make the budget,” Kamberg stated.

He added that it is important to budget wisely in anticipation of potential unforeseen costs in the fall.

“There’s a lot of talk between superintendents in regards to what [learning is] going to look like next year — if we do go back to school [in the fall,” said Kamberg. “Does that mean you’re forced to have smaller class sizes? Does that mean you’re going to have a staggered schedule, where your student body is split in half, with some in the morning and some in the afternoon? We don’t know. Nobody knows, and the problem is we don’t know what our expenses are going to be next year as a result of that.”

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