By Shelby Talcott
The East Williston Board of Education’s proposed 2019-20 budget has decreased slightly from a little over $61.7 million to $61,689,714.
At a meeting on Monday night, the board also said that the proposed increase in the tax levy would not be as high as previously expected. It now sits at 2.49 percent rather than 2.74 percent.
The board noted that this is just above the peer group average and well under the allowable tax levy cap. The 2.49 percent tax levy rise is now just under Roslyn (2.50 percent), but higher than the 2.30 percent average for Nassau County school districts.
The budget decreases are due to staff changes, such as retirements and program changes, that the board was previously unaware of. Program changes include technology costs while personnel changes include the moving of employees within the business office coupled with two retirements.
Additionally, the state approved its budget on time, which has resulted in the school district receiving an additional $29,931.
Budget priorities remained largely the same since the last meeting, with the board continuing to address the second year of its five-year strategic plan. Board members outlined four focus areas and discussed changes in each one.
The focus areas began with STEM, which will look to continue the installation of flat panel screens, among other things. The second focus area is facilities and security, where board members are hoping to add a full-time social worker at North Side and add modified bowling and modified winter track. Social and emotional learning is the third focus area, and one big point in this section would be to expand the AP capstone project. The final focus area is real world learning. The district would like to add a full-time ENL teacher and build classroom libraries.
The full curriculum for the new proposed budget can be found on the district website.
“If the first budget gets voted down, the board can go for a re-vote with adjustments, a re-vote of the same budget, or go right to a contingency,” Danielle Gately, assistant superintendent for instruction and personnel, said. “A contingency budget can only raise the same amount of money from taxes that we did in the previous year. It would result in us having to find $2 million in budget to cut.”
In addition to the budget, the public will have a few other propositions to vote on. The first is on spending $1 million on tennis court renovations from the 2015 reserve, while the second asks to spend $3.9 million from athletic reserves for Wheatley Field renovations, drainage work at North Side and a few other projects. These costs will be taken out of an already funded reserve, so there are no additional costs to taxpayers.
The third proposition is permission to establish a capital reserve of $6.5 million to be funded over the next seven years. This will go toward replacements and renovations at all three schools, such as door replacements and parking lot repaving.
Voters will cast ballots on the budget and the propositions on Tuesday, May 21.