The Board of Education voted unanimously to adopt the 2017-18 budget last week, a $135 million spending plan that represents a -.15 percent decrease over the current budget and includes a $1.9 million tax levy increase.
The school board approved the plan, after months of talks and workshops, at the April 6 meeting at the Long Beach Middle School, and officials said that it maintains all programs and services. Residents will vote on the budget on May 16.
The district is set to receive a total of $22.7 million in state aid for the 2017-18 school year, after state lawmakers secured an additional $850,000 in funding this week, a 4.22 percent increase over the current year.
“It’s relatively the same [as last year],” Chief Operating Officer Michael DeVito said of the state aid. “We’re talking about a .1 percent difference.”
This is in part due to the help of State Sen. Todd Kaminsky and Assemblywoman Melissa Miller, who worked to secure funding for Long Beach schools in the 2017-18 New York state budget.
“On behalf of the entire Long Beach Public School District, I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to Senator Todd Kaminsky and Assemblywoman Melissa Miller for advocating on behalf of our students for additional state aid,” Superintendent David Weiss said in a statement. “This money puts the district on a path towards a sustainable budget that will preserve the academic and extracurricular programs we provide students in the Long Beach schools in the coming years.”
Kaminsky helped secure more than $8.4 million in additional school aid for the 9th Senate District, and the funding is part of the $25 billion in total school aid included in the state budget, a $1.1 billion increase.
“I am proud to have helped secure more funding for Long Beach schools so that our students can have the best learning opportunities available,” Kaminsky said in a statement. “Importantly, the more money we secure from Albany, the less Long Island taxpayers are called on to shoulder the financial burden.”
The district also expects to receive a $300,000 reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help cover costs associated with Hurricane Sandy, DeVito said.
According to DeVito, the proposed tax levy — the amount the district needs to raise through property taxes — is about $99 million, the maximum allowable under the 2 percent state tax cap.
The district is allowed by the state to increase the tax levy because of recent capital expenditures, including the purchase of compressed-natural-gas buses and the repair of the damaged high school bulkhead. “The state and the tax cap formula acknowledge that those are not your typical operating expenses,” DeVito said. “Those are extraordinary, one-time expenses.”
“If you have a capital expenditure, [the state] allows you to raise more tax levy in order to pay for those expenditures,” he explained. “That’s why the 1.26 [percent] of the levy growth factor grows to 1.99 [percent],” DeVito said. “I’m asking the board to vote to the maximum allowable, which is the 1.99, so that we can have a balanced budget without having to use our reserve funds for next year.”
The district also expects to receive about $3.6 million next year from the Long Island Power Authority in the form of a PILOT, or payment in lieu of taxes.
“We still need to be mindful of the fact, going forward, of our spending and the revenue coming in,” DeVito said, “so we get to a point of sustainability.”
In addition, school board Trustees Dr. Dennis Ryan and Maureen Vrona are up for re-election this year and Lori Montgomery, a former nurse in the district, will run for the first time.