It has been a whirlwind year for the East Rockaway School District to say the least. Less then two months into the school year, Hurricane Sandy tore through the community damaging homes, businesses and schools. East Rockaway High School is still undergoing repairs and students in seventh through 12th grade have been attending classes in Baldwin ever since.
In the midst of it all, the school board and administration are wading through the second budget cycle under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s tax levy cap. Boards of education across New York are in the process of making difficult decisions in order to stay within their respective caps, and in East Rockaway it’s no different.
According to Marcy Tannenbaum, the district’s director of finance and operations, the district must cut more than $800,000 in order to stay within its maximum allowable tax levy of 3.43 percent. The district’s maximum allowable tax levy is the amount in which it can raise money through property taxes.
The proposed spending plan, which is currently about $37 million has already been cut down by more than $250,000 since a Feb. 6 budget advisory committee meeting.
To make the $250,000 cut, the district has removed classroom computers from its expenditure budget to be funded by its technology reserve budget. Also, there were plans to replace an old truck that has a dumpster and plow capabilities. Instead, the district will try to fund the new truck through a grant.
“It’s very challenging and we’re still working on it,” Tannenbaum said.
The largest increase in the proposed budget is in pension costs, which are slated to increase by $650,000, or 34 percent.
A delegation of board members and PTA leaders traveled to Albany last weekend to meet with locally elected officials, including Sen. Dean Skelos and Assemblymen Harvey Weisenberg and Brian Curran to discuss the district’s state aid funding.