Now that the dust has settled and both and school districts have adopted 2011-12 budgets, Patch compares the two.
Northport Holds Staff and Programs Steady
Northport‘s $151,178,758 budget allows for programs and staff to remain in place. The administration has proposed an ambitious three-year technology program that would complete the installation of Smart Boards at all schools and supply teachers with Net Books in advance of supplying them to students.
With an eye to a possible state-imposed 2% property tax cap next year, the administration and BOE chose to work as if that cap were already in place, and adopted a budget with an estimated 1.83% tax rate.
That number was kept in check partly because of Northport’s $22 million reserve fund – an amount that has raised the ire of some residents, and resulted in lengthy BOE meetings and much public debate as to whether there should be any tax increase at all.
The technology plan has added fuel to the fire, with some taxpayers questioning whether the new technology is needed given the uncertainty over LIPA’s tax certiorari, which could have a severe impact on the district’s finances.
Elwood Cuts 18 Full-Time Staff, Cut Full-Day K to Half
Then there’s Elwood. Faced with a loss in state aid and increases in mandated costs, the board would have had to adopt a budget with a 12.53% tax levy in order to keep all programs and staff intact.
As an alternative, the administration and board took an eye-opening look at what a contingency budget with a more palatable 3.74% increase would mean: a loss of 30 staff members, along with elimination of athletics, music, and the arts, as well as the full-day kindergarten program.
After weeks of hearing from the public, the Board settled on middle ground: a $53.9 million budget with a 7.98% tax levy, which restored programs and sports. But 18.6 FTEs will still lose their jobs, and full-day kindergarten – which saw its state aid cut in half – is still reduced to a half day program.
That said, trustees and the administration are not giving up. They are continuing to explore ways to add some sort of enrichment program to kindergarten, and are taking a line-by-line look to see if there are additional ways to save money.
As for reserves, Elwood had a total of $5.7 million as of June 30, 2010. Board Vice President Joseph Fusaro had noted at a recent meeting that Elwood has tried to be extremely efficient in an effort to avoid overtaxing the public. Those efficiencies have included tightening the administrative belt, with some staff members taking on additional responsibilities and switching to Gmail for the district’s email system, which is free for K-higher education.
Both budgets votes are scheduled for Tuesday, May 17. Elwood's voting will take place from 2 to 10 p.m. Northport's will take place from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Anyone who has voted in school or general elections during the past four years is already registered and eligible to vote this May.
Elwood residents who aren't registered to vote may register to vote in the district Business Office, located at 100 Kenneth Ave in Elwood Middle School, between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. any day school is in session through May 12th. There will also be a voter registration held on Wednesday, May 11th from 2:30 – 8:00 p.m. at Glenn High School.
Prospective voters in Northport can register at any district school between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., whenever school is in session, or at the Office of the District Clerk, located at the William J. Brosnan School, 158 Laurel Avenue, Room A109, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on weekdays.
To find out if you are registered to vote you can call Suffolk County Board of Elections at 452-4500.
Adopted budget amount
Tax levy increase in %
Spending increase in $
Spending increase in %
Roughly $162.20 per $100 assessed value.
Roughly $229.41per 100 of assessed value.
Tax rate % increase
Yes: $900,000 from the district’s capital reserve fund for two boilers at the Northport Middle School and replacement of the slate steps at the front of the William J. Brosnan School.