Budget season kicks off for East Meadow School District | Herald Community Newspapers

It’s that time of year again, when the East Meadow School District prepares for the finances of the upcoming school year. The budget, which was passed March 23 by the Board of Education, totals about $228 million, a 4.8% increase from the current spending plan.

Along with the budget, voters will be asked to approve a construction proposal on May 17 to create additional classrooms at McVey Elementary School.

There have been five different presentations at Education Council meetings starting in January, each focusing on a different aspect of the 2022-23 budget.

McVey’s expansion would consist of three new classrooms. Funding would not come from the budget, however, said Patrick Pizzo, district assistant superintendent for business and finance. Instead, it would come from the capital reserve fund, which was created in May 2018 and contains money the district has not used. Voters are expected to approve just under $5.5 million for new classrooms.

“It’s money that’s already there, waiting for a goal to come our way, and we always suspected the goal would be something in terms of space,” Pizzo said. “If you vote for the second proposal, it will have no impact on anyone’s taxes, because it is money we already have and we are just seeking permission to use it.”

Pizzo said that when school officials created the reserve, they put in place different components as to how it would be funded and how it would be accessed, which is put together quite tightly. “We are lucky to have this money,” he said. “It was part of our long-term planning.”

The tax levy for the coming year has increased by 1.4%, which does not exceed the tax ceiling. Pizzo said that for the foreseeable future, the budget will not exceed the tax cap, which is capped at 2%. “There are a lot of things built into the system that work against a district breaking through the tax cap,” he said. “It has a negative impact on people’s exemptions and there is an added benefit for taxpayers when we stay within the tax limits.

“We always want to live within our means and understand that while we want to do the best for our children, we’re not dealing with an infinite budget,” he added.

Board of Education Chairperson Alisa Baroukh thanked the central administration at the March 23 meeting for “its creativity in ensuring that our students continue to receive a higher education while taking into account the tax cap” .

The budget has three components: administrative expenses, which cover such things as district-wide functions and public information; capital expenditures, which include anything that improves buildings, and program costs, which cover all student-related aspects. Of the three, it is the program that receives the most money. “You can see where the money is going,” he said. “It’s okay with the kids.”

One of the major additions to next year’s school year and what parents would be most concerned about, Pizzo said, is the addition of the integrated co-teaching program in elementary schools. For the past four years, the program has been used at the secondary level. It is to be implemented in all five elementary schools in the district. An ICT classroom consists of a general education teacher and a special education teacher who together provide instruction to students with and without learning disabilities.

Funding for the expansion of the program – which will add 24 new teachers – will come from grant funds from the American Rescue Plan, a coronavirus rescue program; the budget itself and additional funds from state aid. The plan is to use two-thirds of grants and additional state aid and one-third of the general budget to fund the program in the first year, two-thirds of the general budget and one-third of grants and state aid in the second. year, and the third year the money will come directly from the general budget.

State assistance in the budget increased to approximately $4.3 million to bring the district to nearly $55 million in state assistance.

“We are a district that believes in excellence in education,” Superintendent Kenneth Card said at the March 23 BOE meeting. “It’s a community that has consistently supported our budgets over time,” he added. “Because we keep our promise to ensure that all of our students receive the best education possible.”

Chris B. Hall