Maintaining small class sizes while keeping any potential tax increase to a level near or below the tax levy cap were among the top takeaways from the school district’s recent on-line Community Budget Survey.
Superintendent Richard Simon unveiled the survey’s results Wednesday night at a budget work session held at Beach Street Middle School.
The survey’s 1,198 respondents provided a great deal of insight into the community’s priorities for the 2013-14 school year and beyond.
When asked about class sizes, 82 percent of respondents were in favor of keeping average class sizes low versus raising class sizes. In fact, 57.1 percent said it was “essential and critical” to keep class sizes low.
When asked about the draft budget for the 2013-14 school year, 57.6 percent said they would support a tax levy increase only to the cap, which for West Islip is 3.8 percent.
However, the question about the tax levy increase for the coming school year’s budget was criticized by a number of survey respondents. They complained that there was no choice given for those who wanted no tax levy increase or an increase that was less than the school district’s tax levy cap.
“Approximately 50 comments indicated a preference for a tax increase that is less than the cap, including some that requested no tax increase,” Simon said.
One money saving proposal now on the table, reducing the middle school day to eight periods from nine periods for a savings of about $700,000 annually, was met with split results. In the survey, 51 percent viewed maintaining a nine period day at the middle school level as “essential and critical” or “very important,” while 49 percent said it was “good but not essential” or “not important enough to preserve.”
Other survey result highlights:
• A majority of respondents (56.8%) favored some type of furlough to help the school district save money.
• Nearly 7 in 10 respondents said the school district should use additional reserves in the 2013-14 budget.
• 76.9 percent of those who took the survey said they were the parent of a school-aged child currently attending West Islip schools.
Simon also said that IP addresses were used to monitor the survey and avoid anyone “stuffing the ballot.” He noted that there were a few IP address that had “30 or 40” responses and the decision to limit responses from a given IP address to five was made.
A copy of the full survey results are attached with this story.