Long Beach voters passed the school district’s proposed budget by a wide margin on Tuesday, while also approving the spending plan for the library and electing two school board trustees.
The $151.6 million school budget sailed through with a vote count of 1,258 to 324.
Nora Bellsey, a retired educator running for the school board, was elected a trustee with 1,058 votes, and incumbent Trustee Dennis Ryan was re-elected, collecting 881 votes. “Thank you to the voters of Long Beach school district for placing their trust in me,” Bellsey said.
“I would like to congratulate Dr. Dennis Ryan on his re-election, and thank Dr. Banks for running and giving the community a choice,” she added, referring to Pamela Banks, a Merrick pediatrician who finished last among the three candidates competing for two open seats, with 650 votes.
“I’d just like to congratulate Ms. Bellsey for running and winning,” Ryan said after the results were an-nounced. “Good luck, and we look forward to working with you. I also want to thank Dr. Banks for stepping up and running and giving the community a choice. I’d also like to thank the community for coming out to vote and supporting public education.”
Ryan and Bellsey will serve three-year terms starting July 1.
The Long Beach Public Library’s $3.8 million budget was approved by a vote of 1,272 to 258.
The school district’s spending plan has a tax levy increase of 1.5 percent. The overall plan is smaller than the current year’s $151.9 million budget.
Michael DeVito, the district’s superintendent for finance, said at a budget hearing last week that the tax levy increase comes after two years in which there was no increase. “So we’ve had that tax levy number for three years, and now we’re now asking for a modest increase of 1.5 percent just to keep pace with inflation and some of the cost increases in the budget,” DeVito said.
Administration officials said that the proposal does not include any funding for capital projects, but there is a plan to spend $5.2 million from the capital reserve fund on work at Long Beach High School, the middle school and Lindell Elementary. The money would be used to replace and relocate water heating pipes at the middle school, and to install new uni-ventilators for fresh air heating and cooling there; to remove and replace four HVAC units at the high school; and to replace the kitchen sewer line and the sidewalk on the east side of the Lindell school.
“We had some problems in the middle school over the winter with pipes, and we fixed those pipes,” DeVito said last week. “Now we’re asking to put the remaining pipes that are still in the crawl space above in the ceiling, so that they don’t continue to deteriorate and we don’t have any problems at school next year. That’s the main issue. We have this $5.2 million request, but we’re asking the community for permission to spend it.”
The current budget includes nearly $4.3 million for capital projects.
District officials estimate that they will receive about $16.9 million in state aid in 2023-24, 4.8 percent more than this year. The district also plans to receive about $29.9 million from a LIPA payment-in-lieu-of-taxes plan next year, compared with $26.6 million this year.