The West Islip Board of Education adopted the proposed 2011-12 budget of $107.1 million Thursday night at its monthly meeting at the high school.
The proposed budget includes a 2.29 percent budget-to-budget increase (the current budget is $104,104,887) and a tax rate increase of 7.73 percent.
"To reach these numbers, the board has had to make an adjustment that reflects sacrifices from all parties," said Superintendent Rick Simon. "In a budget that is over 75 percent made up of salary and benefits, the only way to achieve the reductions we made is by doing the same or more with fewer people.
"The amount of work from our staff will not decline, however, so all of us will need to step up and do more to ensure that students are our number one priority and continue to receive the best possible education."
But BOE President Steve Gellar said that the district would be adding back "four elementary teachers, which will bring down class sizes, and 3.8 middle school teachers, which will restore the nine period day.
A contigency budget is set for about $530,000 less than the adopted budget and will include a tax rate increase of 6.94 percent. For more information regarding the contigency budget, click here.
Simon said that planning the budget was especially difficult this year due to the financial crisis the state is in.
"It’s not just the cut in state aid of $1.5 million, which would’ve in fact been 2.5 million if we hadn’t set aside our federal jobs money to use next year," Simon said. But it’s also factors like the state teacher’s retirement board, raising the required contribution of each district and West Islip needing to find almost $2 million alone to just address this mandate.
"Add another million West Islip will need to cover the increasing cost of providing healthcare for all of our employees and the contractual raises for the bargaining units and we’re looking at almost another $2 million, even with the adjustments from the teachers association from next year."
Simon did say that the district had come up with a budget that is a "practical balance between the real economic and fiscal pressures we each feel as tax payers and the expectations we have to provide for the more than 5,000 West Islip students."
The budget will be available for residents on Tuesday, May 3 and the district will hold a public budget hearing on Tuesday, May 10 at 7:30 p.m.
Other notes from the meeting:
- Before the meeting began, Steve Gellar addressed the . He said the union agreed to a half-year freeze in step increases and half-year freeze on salary increase and a two percent increase on the teacher’s health insurance contribution. The total savings of the teacher givebacks is about $1 million. Gellar also said the district would work with the union on a multi-year retirement incentive.
- Board Trustee George Smith made a motion to name the high school's performing arts center in Sal Fiore's honor. The motion was passed and the auditorium will soon be named the Performing Arts Center.
- Shortly after that motion was passed, three of Dr. Fiore's former students made an announcement that they would like to raise money for a plaque in Fiore's honor and have a dedication ceremony, which was approved by the board.
- A motion was passed to extend the hours of budget and trustee voting. The new hours are 6 a.m.-10 p.m.
- Meet The Candidate night for board of education candidates is scheduled for May 5th.