Full-day kindergarten is one of the several new programs featured on the adopted 2016-17 budget for the Harborfields Central School District.
The board of education presented a cap-piercing $82.8 million budget last night, with a 1.52 percent increase to the tax levy cap.
The district has been looking at several options for a budget this year, some that stay within the .37 percent state-mandated tax levy cap and maintain current programs, and others that go above the cap but add new programs and features to the district.
The adopted budget included a new music elective at the high school, third grade string, a teacher’s aide testing room at Oldfield Middle School and a BOCES cultural arts program.
Since this proposed budget is higher than the tax levy cap, the budget will require a 60 percent supermajority of voter approval, and taxpayers in the area will not be eligible for the $130 state tax rebate, which is part of a state incentive program that encourages municipalities to comply with the cap in exchange for the tax rebates.
Board member Hansen Lee said he thinks the community will get behind this budget.
“I’m really optimistic that this budget will pass,” Lee said at the meeting. “We’re Harborfields, we always come together for the success of our kids and the greater good. Most of all I want to say thank you to the community for your continued input in the entire process.”
Many residents have said they will stand behind the budget due to the inclusion of full-day kindergarten, which the district said would cost about $600,000.
Members of the group Fair Start: Harborfields Residents for Full-Day Kindergarten, traveled to Albany in March, hoping to spread awareness of their efforts to support full-day kindergarten on a state stage.
Board member Suzie Lustig said it is time for full-day kindergarten.
“[Full-day kindergarten] is part of a 21st century education,” she said at the meeting. “It’s part of what our future is. The time is now to be progressive.”
Board member Donald W. Mastroianni recorded the only vote against the adopted budget.
“In my opinion, a budget that stays within the cap this year would absolutely be an educationally sounds and fiscally responsible budget,” he said. “And it will continue to fully support the excellence of Harborfields. I cannot support the budget proposed that would pierce the cap this year and I will be voting no.”
This year, the district received nearly $16 million in state aid, which will make up about 19 percent of the budget, according to the district. The 2016-17 tax levy of $62.1 million will make up 75 percent of the budget, and the final 6 percent will come from reserves and fund balance.