Long Beach School District reveals 2024-25 second budget draft


The Long Beach School District presented its second draft budget and revenue projection for the 2024-25 academic year at a Board of Education meeting on Tuesday.

The spending plan totals $155.9 million, 2.85 percent larger than the current budget, and aims to address the district’s educational needs while accommodating financial constraints.

Initially concerned about Gov. Kathy Hochul’s proposed $3.3 million budget cut for the district due to a prospective cut in state aid, which would have led to a potential school closure and staff layoffs, district officials now anticipate a slight increase in state aid, to $27.3 million. They also expect an $85,655 payment in lieu of taxes from the Long Island Power Authority, but a drop in other revenue of nearly $183,000.

The bulk of the projected revenue is a tax levy totaling $109.1 million, 1.5 percent larger than the current year. The district will also make use of nearly $510,000 from the appropriated fund balance.

“The earlier reported loss of funding greatly disrupted our community,” board Trustee Anne Conway said, speaking on behalf of Vice President Sam Pinto, who was unable to attend the session because of a family commitment. “I’m glad that because of the advocacy of many, it was replenished. And we now have the time to do our diligence and work as a community for the next steps in the future. In regard to the upcoming budget, we need to plan responsibly and balance the needs of the students and the impact on our community.”

The spending plan includes the hiring of a social worker and two instructors specializing in supporting student wellness and growth, funded by an American Rescue Plan Act grant. It ensures that crucial personnel, like assistant principals and Academic Intervention Services teachers, remain in place.

The proposal also outlines enhancements to existing programs, including a revised elementary enrichment program and additional staffing for special education at West School. As well, it sets aside funds for districtwide natural gas expenditure, and funds initiatives like providing books to non-public school students and a musical instrument lease-to-own program.

“We try to listen to our community, focusing on our students’ needs to maintain the programs’ integrity,” Conway said, this time speaking on her own behalf. “This budget, I feel, uses our students as our focus, which is really what we want to do. We want to ensure that our students receive the best education that we can possibly get, and I know that this budget does.”

East Elementary School will remain open for the time being, despite many conversations about its future. The committee responsible for evaluating potential school closures is set to convene on May 1. It will hold two meetings in May and two in June, with additional sessions planned for the summer, according to district Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Gallagher.

“It’s not just East people, it’s all people going over this,” Jennifer Baylis-Aull, a co-president of East School’s PTA, said. “And just to clarify, it’s about us as a school, not one particular school, and going through all of the schools, visiting all the schools, discussing what it might be like if we were reducing to three schools potentially — or not even necessarily doing that at all.”

Due to financial constraints and a districtwide decline in enrollment, a curriculum director and eight teaching positions were cut, as well as funding for the mindfulness program.

“If there aren’t a lot of students who are requesting a particular class, we may not need … a particular teacher on that subject,” Michael DeVito, the district’s assistant superintendent of finance and operations, explained. “And so we’re able to reduce as well, and why I’m saying it doesn’t really have an impact is because the kids are still getting the program they’ve always received — there are just fewer kids. So there are fewer teachers needed.”

A budget hearing is scheduled for May 14, which will give residents an opportunity to voice their opinions and concerns. The budget vote and board election is May 21.