Rockville Centre school, library budgets up for a vote on May 21


Residents can vote on Rockville Centre’s 2019-20 school district and library budgets, as well as for three board candidates running unopposed, on Tuesday, May 21, at South Side High School, from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Board of Education president John O’Shea is running uncontested, and Library Board candidates Susanne Morahan and Michael Ludwig also have no opponents on the ballot. In addition, the school district’s $120 million proposed budget and the library’s $3.6 million spending plan will be up for a vote.

“For every single program, there has to be a fiscal plan . . . and I think you’ve done a great job,” Schools Superintendent Dr. William Johnson said to Board of Education President John O’Shea and Vice President Tara Hackett during an episode of “Exploring Our Schools,” a YouTube show hosted by Johnson.

The school district’s budget is set to increase by 2.63 percent from the current year’s plan, and the tax levy, the amount of revenue the district collects through property taxes, would increase by 2.65 percent. The average assessed value of a Rockville Centre home is expected to decline 4.6 percent, from $422,000 to $403,000, according to Robert Bartels, assistant superintendent for business and personnel.

He told the Herald that the district estimates that the average homeowner will pay about $336 more in school taxes than the current year. Bartels noted that number is tentative, and can change in either direction.

Among the additions included in the next school year’s proposed budget is a guidance counselor — costing the district $100,000 — for the roughly 1,650 students at the five elementary schools.

“With the way the world works and their exposure to different things, everything’s pushing down a little bit earlier,” Hackett said on the YouTube show. “The board felt very strongly, and we felt very grateful toward administration for agreeing, that it’s never too early for us to have our finger on the pulse for what our kids are going through and what they need.”

The budget also covers additional special education teachers and a teacher assistant for South Side High School’s reinstated Pathways program, also known as CORE II, for students with severe learning disabilities.

Among the largest capital project to be covered by the 2019-20 budget is the replacement of a wall at South Side Middle School, which would cost the district about $600,000. Last year, the back wall of the building was crumbling and needed emergency repair, and architects subsequently found that other walls needed to be replaced.

The $3.6 million budget for the Rockville Centre Public Library has a 2.59 percent tax levy increase — the average homeowner will pay about $12 more than the current year. $2.9 million of the spending plan will go toward employee salaries and benefits with $650,000 being split between library materials and programs, and operations and maintenance. General operations and administrative costs round out the budget.

“The Library Board is committed to providing expansive and culturally rich opportunities for learning and recreation for residents while maintaining stringent oversight of expenditures, contractual agreements and cooperative purchasing,” the Library Board wrote on the library’s website.

Residents are eligible to use an absentee ballot if they are unable to appear on Election Day due to an illness or disability; are outside the county due to ordinary duties, occupation, or business; are outside the county due to special circumstances not usual to duties, occupation, business, or studies; are on vacation; or are detained or confined in jail or prison. The spouse, parent or child accompanying the voter entitled to an absentee ballot is also entitled to that ballot.

An application for an absentee ballot may be obtained at the Rockville Centre School District’s administrative office, at 128 Shepherd Street, or by calling (516) 255-8921. It may also be downloaded from the district’s website at