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North Shore adopts 2021-22 school budget

New capital reserve also on the ballot

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The North Shore Board of Education unanimously adopted a 2021-22 budget of roughly $111.6 million at its March 25 meeting. The spending plan, which residents will vote on on May 18, is about $1.3 million — or 1.16 percent — larger than this year’s budget.

The proposed tax levy is roughly $92.3 million — $1.3 million more than 2020-21. The plan assumes that taxes paid by the Long Island Power Authority remain the same. In No-vember 2019, LIPA and Nassau County reached a tentative agreement to reduce property taxes on the authority’s Glenwood Landing power plant, in large part because it was razed in 2015. The agreement has yet to be finalized.

If the budget passes, a home with an assessed value of $500,000 would see a tax increase of $148.66, while the taxes on a home valued at $750,000 would increase by $224.34.

Taxes on homes valued at $1 million would go up by $298.76, and those valued at $1.5 million would see an increase of $448.14.

The district unveiled three potential budgets during its initial presentation on Feb. 4, based on differences in the way the coronavirus pandemic might affect schools in September. The adopted budget is considered to be a “new normal with modifications,” representing a middle ground between a normal opening and one still affected by the pandemic. The district will continue to make adjustments and repurpose resources if the pandemic continues into the 2021-22 school year.

“We start this process saying a budget tells a story, demonstrates our values, and this one is no different,” North Shore Superintendent Dr. Peter Giarrizzo said.

The adopted budget saw about $1 million in cuts from its first draft. Cuts were made mainly by eliminating certain jobs throughout the district, including reductions in teaching and clerical positions. Board President Dave Ludmar said he is confident the budget is what is best for the community’s children, and he hopes it will pass.

The budget “gets resolved through our electorate,” Ludmar said. “That’s what democracy is, and that’s what we’re going to do in this community, as we have year after year. I believe that what we are putting forth is sound, is responsible, and I look forward to seeing the community respond to that on the vote, which is May 18 this year.”

The community will also have the opportunity to vote on a second referendum to  establish a new capital reserve to maintain various aspects of the district’s infrastructure. If the reserve were to be established, the public would have to vote on whether it approves of how the district would spend the funding in the future.

Ludmar said the reserve’s probable 10-year term would expire on June 30, 2031, and would not exceed $8,275,000. The board passed the motion unanimously.

Stadium lighting for the North Shore High School field is listed as a part of the reserve and is estimated to cost roughly $1.5 million. Talks of stadium lights took off in October 2019, after which a task force of 39 people, which includes district staff, residents, civics leaders and more, was formed to research such a project.

Last month, the district sent out a community-wide survey to gauge public interest in stadium lighting, which concluded March 24. According to Giarrizzo, roughly 88 percent of the 1,055 responses to the survey favored stadium lighting, which could be used for a variety of sports and other programming.

Senior Jack Ledden, who plays wide receiver and safety for the NSHS football team, said stadium lighting would benefit students, as athletes would love it and it would enhance school spirit.

“I feel like it would be great thing for the school,” Ledden said. “You always dream about playing under the lights in front of all your friends and family on Fridays, and we just haven’t had the opportunity to do that.”

Ledden said almost all of the team’s games are played during the day. Night games have only been able to take place at Mitchel Field in Uniondale or in opposing teams’ stadiums. Those games are “awesome,” he said, but he wishes he could see more NSHS fans, as opposed to people rooting for their opponents.

“Day games are great, but there’s nothing like football or any other sport under the lights…It would bring the North Shore community together,” Ledden said. “Especially with the hard times recently for everyone, it would be something for everyone to enjoy.”

Several community members, most of whom said they live near the field, wrote in to say that they did not approve of stadium lighting, citing reasons such as noise and light pollution, tailgating, inadequate security and an irresponsible use of taxpayer money. One resident, Roseann McMahon, said members of the North Shore Coalition Against Substance Abuse believe stadium lighting could bring loitering and substance abuse to the area. However, CASA President Alison Camardella said the organization has not taken a position on the issue.

Trustee Marianne Russo said the opposite would likely be the case. Night games would give students something to do on certain nights, she said, which would dissuade them from drinking or doing drugs.

If stadium lights were to be installed, the district would use LED lighting, Giarrizzo said, which reduces light pollution by up to 90 percent when compared to most other means of lighting. He added that lights would only be on during events.