School Spending is focus in Locust Valley


A small audience of residents and faculty members from the Locust Valley Central School District attended the Board of Education’s third public budget forum on Wednesday. The meeting, which took place at the mini-theater in Locust Valley High School, focused on the goals and initiatives for the 2017-18 budget. The agenda was similar to the previous forum: maintaining programs and staff at each grade level and remaining within the state tax.

“We do this all for the sake of more than 2,000 students, 700 staff members and 10,000 residents who depend on us to do it well,” said Superintendent Dr. Anna Hunderfund. She added that the district’s auditors have recognized the district for its “successful budgeting and financial planning processes.” The district recently received an Aa1 credit rating, the highest in its history.

Another noteworthy accomplishment, brought up by Toni Meliambro, the district’s assistant superintendent for business affairs and human resources, was the budget’s increase of just 1.47 percent. Meliambro said it is one of the smallest increases ever. And, she continued, it happened not by chance, but rather by design. The district’s hard work to make consolidations paid off.

Meliambro also mentioned that New York state has not finalized its budget, which was due on April 1, which means that the exact amount of state aid remains unknown. This makes it challenging, Meliambro said, to finalize spending plans. The district has projected that the increase in state aid will be $217,000.

Toward the end of the forum, Trustee Lissa Harris asked her fellow board members about making the documents of the fully detailed budget — which the board receives — accessible online for the public to see. Hunderfund and board President Erika Bruno said that residents can file Freedom of Information Law requests to access that information. But the budget, which is scheduled to be adopted on April 20, will already have been finalized by the time a resident would receive the requested documents, Harris reasoned. (A FOIL request can take up to 25 days.) She suggested that the district scan the budget documents and upload them to its website as a PDF file. Pam Kaplan, the public relations director, said that could not be done due to recent changes in accessibility laws.

New hire announced

Prior to the budget discussion, Hunderfund announced that the board had completed the search for a full-time director of pupil services. She introduced Dr. Patricia Griffin, who was in the audience. Hunderfund explained that it was a long process to find the right person for the district, but it was “worth the wait.”

“Our administration has always aspired to be exceptional, because the children deserve it,” she said. “I know she’s going to do amazing things.”

Hunderfund also pointed out that more than 40 faculty and staff members contributed to the district’s search for a full-time director. She said that everyone who helped agreed that Griffin was the best person for the job.

Griffin, who is currently the director of special education and pupil services at Hicksville Public Schools, will give Hicksville 30 days’ notice, and then begin working at Locust Valley.

The board will hold its final budget presentation on April 20 at 8 p.m.