Elmont budget passes easily, Burkett elected to Board


Elmont Union Free School District’s 2013-14 budget of $80,905,400 passed on Tuesday by a vote of 1311 to 648. The approved budget includes cuts of nearly $1 million and factors in state-mandated increases of nearly $2.5 million, which raised the budget by 3.2 percent alone.

The budget will be able to fund all current educational needs, maintain current class sizes, restore summer educational programs for more than 500 children and continue to fund existing educational programs.

Necessary budget cuts will come from a reduction of four teaching positions from within the district’s six elementary schools and one coordinator position, which will account for nearly half of the projected savings. Less money will be spent on the school lunch program, instructional media, instructional support –which include curriculum development and school supervision– and buildings and maintenance costs.

School district officials said that the budget had to be calculated with rising costs in mind: retirement system expenses of $1.8 million – a 30 percent increase – health insurance expenses of $200,000 and special education enrollment cost increases of over $450,000.

“[We] firmly believe this budget continues to provide our students with the best learning opportunities possible while keeping a firm stance on fiscal responsibility to the taxpayers,” Superintendent of Schools Al Harper said.

School Board President Michael Jaime and Trustee Jon Johnson, Sr., who ran unopposed, will return to their posts again. Challenger Tameka Battle-Burkett won the election for the one open seat against incumbent Board Vice President Lorraine Ferrigno and challenger Jason Smith.

Jaime is a nine-year resident of Elmont whose stated goal is to increase state educational aid and reduce tax levies, while efficiently allocating tax dollars into beneficial educational programs, teacher development and the maintenance of school district facilities.

Johnson, Sr. has been on the Board since August 2012 and is a 16-year resident of Elmont.

Battle-Burkett has lived in Elmont since 2005 and said she believes “that a school board should be a diverse mix of individuals whose main focus is on the achievement of students, higher academic standards and a fair and balanced budget that will allow us to continue to fund our schools with the ever changing advances in technology, equipment, services and programs.” She also said she believes that a school board should be a direct link with the community and the people within that community.

Sewanhaka Central High School District’s budget of $171,785,427, which is $4,751,595, or 2.84 percent more than the current year’s budget, was also approved Tuesday, by a vote of 3,328 to 2,207.