This was not an easy year for Valley Stream’s four school districts, with the pressure of the property tax cap, rising health insurance and pension costs, and new mandates from the Common Core Learning Standards and teacher evaluation system.
However, all four districts have come in with budget proposals that meet the tax cap, meaning only a simple majority will be needed to pass each one. Voters will head to the polls on Tuesday.
This year, there is no bus proposition on the ballot that puts the passage of the general budget in question. It’s a straight forward spending plan that preserves academic programs and maintains class sizes.
The 3.89 percent tax levy hike, which is right at the district’s limit, is a little bit higher than we would like to see, especially considering that the other two elementary districts are presenting budgets with increases below the cap limit. Yet we realize there really are no other alternatives if we want to see programs kept intact.
District 13 is in the unfortunate situation of having little commercial property, while also having much tax-exempt land within its borders. That means that if the state doesn’t come through with more aid — it did, but not much — the difference must be made up by the homeowners.
The district has a solid curriculum, and we would hate to see it compromised. In the times of high-stakes testing, programs like music and art allow students the creative outlet they need. This budget supports those programs.
We urge residents of District 13 to vote in favor of the $44.6 million budget.
While it may be Valley Stream’s smallest elementary school district, there is nothing insignificant about District 24’s budget. It provides a wide range of programs that students of that age don’t necessarily get in other places.
One example is the Spanish program, which is rarely found at an elementary school. The proposed $28.7 million budget preserves that, as well as the outdoor education experience at Caumsett Park and the Ashokan Preserve, art, music and the character-education program.