Budget

The Smithtown School District received nearly four times as many votes for this year's school budget compared to last years. File photo

By Odeya Rosenband

School districts across Suffolk County have seen a sizable increase in voter turnout for their 2020-21 budget elections, in comparison with previous years.

2019 Budget Vote Tallies

SWR: 1,458

Rocky Point: 916

Miller Place: 783

Mount Sinai:1,381

Port Jeff: 719

Comsewogue: 812

Middle Country: 2,058

Three Village: 2,087

Smithtown: 2,776

2020 Budget Vote Tallies SWR: 2,947 (+1,458)

Rocky Point: 2,913 (+1,997)

Miller Place: 3,016 (+2,233)

Mount Sinai:2,965 (+1,584)

Port Jeff: 1,387 (+668)

Comsewogue: 3,349 (+2,537)

Middle Country: 7,639 (+5,581)

Three Village: 9231 (+7,244)

Smithtown: 11,071 (+8,293)

Notably, as opposed to in-person, all voting was conducted through a mail-in ballot this year due to the threat of COVID-19. This process made voting more readily accessible to all community members, who have largely been under stay-at-home orders as the county remained in Phase 2 at the time of the elections.

Among North Shore school districts covered by TBR News Media, the Hauppauge school district witnessed the most significant change, receiving nearly five times more voters than they did last year. Like every district, Hauppauge’s budget passed but is expecting possible cuts in state aid later in the year. This anticipation is another factor that helps to explain the increased voter turnout, as this upcoming school year’s budget is highly sensitive. 

Kenneth Bossert, superintendent of Elwood school district, noted that despite the increase in voters, the ratio of people who supported the budget to those who didn’t remained similar between the two years. “Most budgets that stay under the tax cap pass,” he said. Voter turnout in Elwood increased by 253 percent from last year, with 3,985 total voters. 

Not only has voting been made more accessible this year due to the mail-in format, but the fact that more people are at home suggests that people have more time to think about their local districts. With districts trying to formulate accommodations for the next year, keeping in mind the ever-changing nature of health protocols, district heads have routinely called this year’s school budgets more crucial than normal. 

In terms of the number of new voters, Smithtown Central School District displayed the greatest difference with 8,295 more people voting than just last year. Interim Superintendent Russell Stewart said that, “The support [voters] have given us during this budget season [will] allow us to continue to offer the best education possible to our students.”

The collective increase in voter turnout for the North Shore school districts’ 2020-21 budgets — by more than threefold overall — indicates that mail-in ballots have been more successful than the previous in-person voting. 

It is a unique comparison this year to other political votes nationwide, which have also had to contend with limitations from the pandemic. While votes were still being tallied Wednesday, June 24 for the 2020 state and local primaries, turnout is expected to be lower than in similar primaries in 2018. The number of polling places on Long Island have been consolidated, and instead of absentee ballots sent directly to homes, voting forms had to be requested and sent in before deadline the night of June 23.

In 2018, the most contentious primary for the area was for the Democratic Party contender for the U.S. Congressional District 1 seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY1). Two years ago the total number of votes equaled 20,331. While votes were still being tallied by press time, the number of total votes for people who voted in person is  nearly 5,000 less than last election, according to data from the Suffolk County Board of Elections. Full results will not be known until after July 1 when all mailed-in votes are counted.

As of press time, Perry Gershon is currently leading for the Congressional District 1 seat. Laura Ahearn is also currently leading for the New York State Senate District 1 seat by a few hundred votes over Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station).

Ward Melville High School. Photo by Greg Catalano

Three Village Central School District residents voted 6,096 to 3,135 in favor of the 2020-21 budget.

The $218.84 million budget falls within the 1.96 percent cap on the tax levy increase and represents a 1.75 percent increase on the 2019-20 budget.

Incumbents Inger Germano (4,727), Irene Gische (4506) and Jeffrey Kerman (4479) retained their seats on the board. Challengers Shaorui Li, David McKinnon and Vinny Menten received 3,722, 3,799 and 2810 votes, respectively.

Huntington High School. File Photo

School districts in Huntington canvassed ballots June 16 for hours before reporting results.

Elwood Union Free School District

The district passed its 2020-21 budget, 2,921 to 1,064. Its budget is set at $64,443,174, a 2.73 percent increase from last year’s figure. The district will see a tax levy increase of 2.89 percent, which is below its allowable tax levy cap of 7.22 percent.

The proposed increase of 2.89 percent is less than what is needed to fully cover the increase to capital debt, so as a result the district has planned targeted reductions. Those will include elimination of one full-time administrative position, reduction in staffing due to attrition, reduction to athletics for materials and supplies, reduction to certain co-curricular activities with minimal student enrollment and reduction in security hours to eliminate redundancy in buildings.

Voters elected two candidates to the board of education. Newcomer Sara Siddiqui secured the most votes of 2,489 and will be elected to fill the balance of an unexpired term from June 9, 2020, through June 30, 2020, to be followed by a full three-year term. Challenger Thomas Scarola, who received the second highest number of votes with 2,281, will serve a full three-year term beginning in July. Incumbent Becky Marcus failed to secure reelection with 1,775, as did George Neofitos with 755 votes.

Northport-East Northport Union Free School District

Voters passed the 2020-21 budget 5,241 to 1,545. Its budget is set at $172,752,759, a $1.6 million increase from last year’s total. The budget package supports  K-12 instructional programs, funds the purchase of 1,500 Chromebooks to complete the final phase of the 1:1 computing initiative so that all students K-12 have their own device, preserves the district’s art, music and athletic programs, maintains class sizes within district guidelines, preserves staffing and programming to support the social-emotional needs of students and supports the district’s professional development initiatives for staff.

In the event of future foundation aid reductions, the district will look to defer a number of expenditures. The total would come out to over $1.8 million. In a worst-case scenario, the district could eliminate late bus runs, eliminate/reduce school trips, reduce athletic opportunities (games, teams), and reduce full-time equivalent employee hours, among other things.

Board president David Badanes secured reelection with 5,119 votes. Incumbent Donna McNaughton was reelected with 4,463 votes. Challenger Victoria Bento fell short in her bid with 2,762 votes.

Harborfields Central School District

The 2020-21 budget passed by an overwhelming 3,609 to 1,472. Its total budget figure will be $88,843,177. The district will see a tax levy increase of 2.80 percent. The tax levy amount is $68,465,006 compared to last year’s amount of $66,600,280. State aid is down from $16,466,214 to $14,526,584, which is an over $1.9 million decrease.

Incumbents Christopher Kelly and David Steinberg were reelected to the board. Kelly received 3,477 votes, while Steinberg garnered 2,855 votes. Challenger Freda Manuel came up short with 2,174 votes.

Cold Spring Harbor Central School District

Voters passed the 2020-21 budget 944 to 373. Its budget is set at $71,092,749, which is an $817,932 increase from its 2019-20 figure. The district’s tax levy amount will be $66,819,125. The overall budget is about $1 million under the tax levy limit.

District officials are expecting further aid reductions from the state. However, the current budget maintains all programs. The district will continue its Chromebook initiative for all students at the middle and high school, extensive professional development for teachers, continue the partnership with the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and DNA Learning Center, fund arts programming, including a partnership with the Huntington Arts Council and Lincoln Center Education.

In addition, the budget will facilitate the approval for new three-year transportation contracts, appropriates $900,000 in capital construction funds for the following projects: Field House locker room reconstruction, grounds storage building construction at the middle and high school, performing arts center house lighting replacement.

Proposition 2 was passed by voters, 911 to 451. It would transfer an amount not to exceed $750,000 from the district’s unassigned fund balance to replace existing faucets and the upper synthetic turf field at Cold Spring Harbor Jr./Sr. High School.

Proposition 3 was also passed by voters, 916 to 448. It will authorize the creation of a capital reserve with a limit of $15,000,000 in deposits plus applicable interest over a 15-year term to complete future capital construction projects.

Four candidates ran for three seats with three-year terms, beginning July 1, 2020. Incumbents Janice Elkin and Mark Freidberg secured reelection while challenger Tara Belfi was elected to her first term.

Huntington Union Free School District

Voters passed the 2020-21 budget, 3,696 to 1249. Its budget is set at $135,938,167 with a 1.77 percent increase. Its tax levy amount comes out to $112,350,000.

Its second proposition also passed 3,976 to 924. It will approve the release of monies for state-approved projects that will total over $3.6 million. Southdown Primary School: $340,000 would be used for rooftop solar panels; Huntington High School: Partial roof replacement costing $1 million; Finley Middle School: Science/prep rooms reconstruction and boiler replacements would cost $2 million; and Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School: New auditorium seating and flooring would cost $300,000. Costs of repairs of Finley Middle School lockers will also be included in the total.

Residents elected two individuals to the BOE to a three-year term commencing July 1, 2020, and expiring June 30, 2023. Longtime trustee member Xavier Palacios secured reelection with 2,494 votes, challenger Kelly Donovan was elected to her first term with 3,061 votes. Board president Jennifer Hebert decided to not run for reelection this year.

Commack School District

Commack School District’s 2020-21 budget of $199,759,525 was approved by residents, 5,332 to 2,128.

Trustee Susan Hermer retained her seat with 3,401 votes. Her challenger Mike Weisberg garnered 3,021. Incumbent William Hender ran unopposed and received 5,157 votes.

The 2020-2021 school budget has a tax cap levy increase of 1.99 percent with a budget-to-budget increase of 1.37 percent.

The majority of residents across the Town of Smithtown voted “yes” to their districts’ proposed budgets and approved their board of education incumbents.

Smithtown Central School District

Smithtown residents passed the $255,203,276 budget for 2020-21, 7,345 to 3,726.

Incumbents Matthew Gribbin (8,295), Frank James (5,479) and Jerry Martusciello (8,362) retained their seats on the board. Kevin Craine, who challenged James’ seat, received 4,104 votes.

The 2020-21 budget is a 1.50 percent increase from last year’s budget, and the tax levy increase of 1.82 percent is under the cap.

Commack School District

Commack School District’s 2020-21 budget of $199,759,525 was approved by residents, 5,332 to 2,128.

Trustee Susan Hermer retained her seat with 3,401 votes. Her challenger Mike Weisberg garnered 3,021. Incumbent William Hender ran unopposed and received 5,157 votes.

The 2020-2021 school budget has a tax cap levy increase of 1.99 percent with a budget-to-budget increase of 1.37 percent.

Kings Park Central School District

Kings Park residents voted in favor of the $96,510,404 budget, 3,223 to 1,859.

Joe Bianco ran unopposed and was elected to a three-year term with 4,146 votes.

The budget represents a 2.80 percent increase over last year’s total of $93,880,803, with a 3.27 percent tax levy increase.

“During these challenging times, I am most thankful for the ongoing support from the Kings Park Community,” said Superintendent Timothy Eagen in an email. “Over the past 14 weeks, the Kings Park family has shown great resiliency, grit and persistence.  We have come together as a family.  With our budget successfully passed, we can begin to plan for a safe reentry in September.”

Hauppauge Union Free School District

Hauppauge’s 2020-2021 budget of $115,735,467 budget passed 3,907 to 1,314. The budget shows a 0.28 percent decrease, and an increase to the tax levy of 2.3 percent, due to higher property taxes, meets the tax cap.

Board of education trustee incumbents Dr. Lawrence Crafa and James Kiley both ran for another three-year term unopposed and received 3,867 and 3,320 votes, respectively.

Voting booths at Rocky Point High School. File photo by Kyle Barr

All school districts passed their budgets this year, though all are anticipating potential changes in state aid later in the year. In addition, all district voters decided to reelect incumbents in contested races.

Shoreham-Wading River Central School District 

SWR passed its 2020-21 budget, 2,146 to 801. Its budget is set at $77,164,774, a 1.6 percent increase from last year’s $75,952,416. The year’s tax levy is $55,391,167, a $1,013,510 increase from 2019-20.

The district will maintain all current programming despite potential state aid cuts. Its state aid package would be $12,789,308, a $112,843 increase from last year. In the event of potential state aid cuts midyear, the district has placed certain items in the budget that would not be purchased before Dec. 31, including multiple infrastructure projects at Miller Avenue elementary and the middle school, as well as work on the districtwide grounds and asphalt repairs.  

In the board of education elections all three candidates were incumbents and ran unopposed. Board president Michael Lewis secured another term on the board with 2,292 votes, Katie Anderson, who finished her first term this year, was reelected with 2,324 votes. Henry Perez was reelected to another term as well and garnered 2,300 votes. 

Rocky Point Union Free School District

The 2020-21 budget passed 1,961 to 952. Its budget is set at $84,586,600, with state aid reduction resulting in a $2.1 million decrease in the overall figure. Expenditure decreases are across the board to reach the reduced budget. The budget sets the tax levy at $52,483,059,

setting itself directly at the tax cap, a very slight increase from last year’s figure.

A capital reserve proposition was approved 1,998 to 893. The district is planning to use the capital reserves to repave the front driveway area in front of the high school with a cost not to exceed $350,000. Rocky Point’s current reserve balance is set at $1,590,368. Due to the result of the vote, the district will gain access to the funds. The capital reserve does not increase the tax levy.

Incumbents Sean Callahan and Jessica Ward secured reelection to a three-year term. They garnered 1,955 and 2,094 votes, respectively. Challenger Kellyann Imeidopf fell short with 960 votes.

Miller Place School District 

The Miller Place School District passed its 2020-21 budget convincingly with a vote of 2,156 to 860. The budget is set at $75,713,895, a 2.37 percent increase from last year. The district’s 2020-21 tax levy is set at $47,616,059 and an increase of $687,471 from last year’s amount. 

Miller Place’s state aid was set at $23,144,911, but the district also has leftover building aid of $792,666 and will be receiving an additional $208,010 for 2020-21. Officials said they plan on using leftover aid and funds from repairing the high school gym floor to help offset any further reductions in state aid. 

Proposition 2, which comprised the library budget, passed overwhelming as well:  2,464 to 548. 

Board Vice President Richard Panico was reelected to the board with 2,407 votes. Trustee member Lisa Reitan was also reelected to another term with 2,420 votes. 

Mount Sinai School District

Voters passed the 2020-21 budget, 2,108 to 857. Its budget is set at $61,769,870, a $760,100 and 1.25 percent increase from last year. The tax levy is set at $41,396,602, an increase of 1 percent and well below the 2.43 percent cap set by New York State.

A second proposition asked voters to approve $1.2 million for capital projects from the reserves. It passed 2,365 to 595. Projects will include continuing the high school roof replacement for $865,000, replacing the middle school water heater for $100,000, among others for a total of $1,200,000.

Three board seats were up for grabs this year. Incumbents Edward Law, Robert Sweeney and Peter Van Middelem all secured reelection with 1,635, 1,915 and 1,675 votes, respectively. Newcomer Karen Pitka came up shy in her bid to get on the board securing 1,597 votes.

Comsewogue and Port Jefferson high schools. File photos

All school districts passed their budgets this year, though all are anticipating potential changes in state aid later in the year.

Comsewogue School District:

Residents passed the 2020-21 budget, 2,486 to 863. This year’s budget is set at $96,635,581, an increase of 2.8 percent or $2,660,826. 

District officials are allocating an additional fund balance from operational savings from the closure of the buildings to this year’s budget, resulting in the no tax increase. Last year’s $57,279,755 tax levy, will be this year’s amount as well.

Proposition 2, which passed 2,673 to 680, will call for the district to take $1,500,000 from the capital fund. It will be used for high school improvements including two synthetic turf fields for baseball and softball, high school boiler room HVAC repairs and other classroom renovations. 

Trustees Alexandra Gordon and James Sanchez have been reelected to the board of education each for three-year terms, beginning July 1.

Port Jefferson School District: 

Residents passed the 2020-21 budget, 1003 to 384. This year’s budget is set at $44,739,855, a 1.83 percent increase from last year. This year’s tax levy is $37,356,454, a $457,630 or 1.24 percent increase from the 2019-20 figure. 

The district is expecting to receive $3,863,212 in state aid, an increase of 2.54 percent from last year, but the final amount is still unknown. 

Proposition 2, which passed 1,170 to 210, called for utilizing part of the district’s capital reserve account. The funds will be used to continue replacement of district roofs at approximately $2 million and partially fund replacement of the heating system at the middle school, at approximately $1 million. General fund appropriations are earmarked for the second phase of the security vestibule project at $186,000, replacement of the retaining wall at the Tech Ed building at $300,000 and completing the funding of the replacement of the heating system at the middle school at $500,000.

In the board of education election, trustee David Keegan was reelected with 1,132 votes. Newcomer Ravi Singh was elected to the board with 1,123 votes. Trustee Ryan Biedenkapp decided not to run this year to retain his seat.

By Andrea Paldy

Despite the upheaval to daily life, the Three Village community is doing what it can to stay informed and exercise democracy.

In anticipation of the Three Village Central School District budget vote and school board election by absentee ballot June 9, more than 250 people registered for last week’s virtual Meet the Candidates night, hosted by the Three Village Civic Association and the Three Village Chamber of Commerce.

Incumbents Inger Germano, Irene Gische and Dr. Jeff Kerman are running against newcomers Shaorui Li, David McKinnon and Vinny Menten for three seats on the Three Village school board.

Before the candidates discussed their platforms and answered questions, Jeff Carlson, the district’s deputy superintendent for business services, discussed the proposed 2020-21 budget. The $218.84 million budget falls within the 1.96 percent cap on the tax levy increase and represents a 1.75 percent increase on the 2019-20 budget.

“I think it’s pretty obvious to say we’re not adding any new programs for next year,” Carlson said, alluding to uncertainty about state aid and the possibility of further cuts to aid during the school year.

The district has prepared for multiple scenarios, and the budget reflects reductions in equipment, supplies, conferences and some field trips, the deputy superintendent said. There are also some cuts to personnel, such as clerical, custodial and administrative staff — areas that Carlson said would have “as little impact on educational programs as possible.”

The district did see some savings from the early school closure this year, when the Acme Bus Corp., which provided the district’s minibuses, went out of business. The money saved from not paying Acme offset the loss of the monthly over $100,000 in childcare revenue and over $200,000 in monthly revenue from food service sales and federal and state reimbursements, Carlson said. The district has continued to pay a reduced fee to Suffolk Transportation Service, which provides big buses, to keep the contract intact. Bids for a new minibus company were due last week, Carlson said.

At a May school board meeting, Carlson mentioned the possibility of drawing from district reserves should there be drastic cuts in aid. The district’s reserves are divided into those that are restricted to specific uses, such as retirement contributions and workers’ compensation, and those that are unrestricted and can be targeted to “a rainy day,” Carlson said during a phone interview. Reserves are built up over time from unspent funds at the end of a fiscal year. The district currently has approximately $15 million in restricted reserves and about $6.5 million in unrestricted reserves, Carlson said.

A budget item that has caught the attention of some residents addresses the salaries of the superintendents, which appear to increase in next year’s budget. Since the superintendents have year-to-year contracts that do not have salary increases built in, their salary increases are not reflected in the adopted budget, Carlson said. He added that their raises are determined by the board of education after the adopted budget is passed and are reflected in the adjusted budget.

While the amount of money allocated to the budget remains the same, any changes to the distribution among line items are noted in the adjusted budget. Carlson said the superintendents’ salaries listed for the 2020-21 school year reflect the increases granted last July for this school year’s budget. This means the salaries budgeted for next year are the same amount as this school year.

In the 2020-21 adopted budget, the salary of Superintendent Cheryl Pedisich is shown at $325,000, a $25,500 or 8.51 percent increase.

If the budget does not pass, Carlson said it is not clear whether there would be a date for a revote. If there is no revote or a new budget does not pass, the district would have to move to a contingent budget, he said. This means the tax levy would not increase and the district would have to cut $3.1 million. At that point, capital projects would be cut, and the administration would have to decide where to make additional reductions.

“Of course, we would do whatever we could to have as little impact upon the educational program,” Carlson said.

He addressed the process for counting votes. To ensure ballot secrecy, the board appointed 23 election inspectors to count the votes. After 5 p.m. June 9, the ballots will be removed and separated from the sealed envelopes — which have residents’ names and signatures — before they are counted. There will be live streaming of the process, Carlson said.

All ballots must be received at the North Country Administration building by 5 p.m. on June 9.

Carlson’s presentation, along with those of the Three Village board of education candidates, can be seen at the civic association website, www.threevillagecivics.org. Also visit www.tbrnewsmedia.com for candidate profiles.

Commack HIgh School. Photo from Google Maps

The average Commack homeowner will see an annual tax increase of around $200 if residents vote “yes” for the 2020-2021 school budget of $199,759,525. This year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, homeowners will vote on the budget via mail as no in-person voting will be made available.

The Commack School District Board of Education adopted the budget during its meeting held via Zoom May 19. If approved by residents, the tax cap levy increase will be 1.99 percent with a budget-to-budget increase of 1.37 percent.

Superintendent Donald James said the district, like others across New York state, is still waiting to hear if state aid will be cut later in the year, which means certain budget line items may still change. As Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced a few weeks ago that districts can see cuts of 20 percent or more, James said that figure is an average and the exact amount, whether lower or higher, would be based on the size and wealth of the district. He said there could be rolling cuts as well.

“That’s not good news,” he said. “That’s challenging for us because once programs are in place you count on your funds coming in, and you count on managing your programs based on funds you think you’re going to get from the state.”

The superintendent said while it’s difficult to plan the budget without knowing the exact amount of reductions, they have developed alternative plans if they’re more than anticipated.

James said some reductions in the budget were enrollment driven and in place before the pandemic. There will also be reductions in personnel due to resignations or retirements. There will be 11 full-time employees less due to retirement, 10 FTE teacher assistants reduced after program reviews and 12.7 FTE, plus approximately 32 individuals such as school monitors and instructional aides due to enrollment decline.

These staff reductions have already resulted in budget savings due to the attrition. The superintendent said they may have to revisit reducing staff further, as the district may need to revisit the number of cafeteria monitors.

James said there is currently a task force looking at changes which may be required to open up schools with COVID-19 distancing practices put in place. The superintendent said transportation, sports, field trips, school gatherings and more could be affected. Possible changes could include temperatures being taken and physical measures to help with distancing. The possible increase in costs is something the district is unable to estimate at this time.

James said he has received some suggestions involving opening up school post-COVID to maintain physical distance, including reducing class sizes. He said to a certain degree the district could do so if they double the number of teachers, but the problem is the buildings don’t have double the number of classrooms.

He said the district may have to look at other ways to schedule student classes.

If the budget is passed June 9, the district plans to keep classroom sizes the same or lower, and mental health support and programs such as arts, music, physical education and more will stay intact. The district is also planning a Chromebook laptop initiative, and every student is set to receive one. James said it will be a benefit even when students return to classrooms as their books will now be loaded on Chromebooks.

James said there is a pandemic elimination adjustment of $226,250, and the district received federal stimulus money that took care of that and they may get more. He said there is not much in the capital reserve funds, however, if there is a 20 percent cut in state aid it would mean more than $6.6 million taken from the budget.

The superintendent said due to school closures the district saved $3 million, part of that money being for transportation, which could be applied to next year.

James said the district has properties they could sell to tenants who are interested, though he stressed that he was not talking about Marion Carll Farm. He said selling any properties would need residents approval through a vote.

There is a possibility of saving $2.55 million with the elimination of Common Core and individuals involved with the program such as instructional aides. Other things that could be looked into are reducing high school electives, field trips, art and music classes, staff reductions and professional development for teachers.

James said if the budget isn’t passed in June it would mean the district would have to cut an additional $2,834,090 from the budget for a total cut of $7.8 million. The Chromebook project would be eliminated as well as no equipment purchases would be made. Also, residents and community organizations would be unable to use the facilities and grounds, while elementary and middle school class sizes would need to increase and several high school electives, athletics and clubs would be eliminated.

A public hearing will be held June 2 during a virtual meeting that will be simulcast on the district’s website, www.commackschools.org.The budget vote is set for June 9.

Commack School District Board of Education has two seats up for grabs with incumbent Susan Hermer and Mike Weisberg running for one position. As for the second seat, incumbent William Hender is running unopposed. For more information on the candidates, visit www.tbrnewsmedia.com.

Ward Melville High School. File photo by Greg Catalano

By Andrea Paldy

As if times are not challenging enough, districts across the state must create budgets without knowing when, or by how much, state aid will be cut.

Jeff Carlson, deputy superintendent for business services, has removed $1 million from next year’s budget in anticipation of cuts beyond the $300,000 decrease in aid already projected by the state in March.

The current 2020-21 budget falls within the cap on the tax levy increase of 1.96 percent, for a total budget of $218.84 million. This is a 1.75 percent increase over the 2019-20 budget.

The district has begun to make contingency plans with alternate budgets, being referred to as Phase 2, which would mean a further $2 million reduction and Phase 3, which would require a deeper cut of $3 million. Cuomo has said school aid could drop by as much as 20 percent and cuts could take place as late as December, Carlson said.

If cuts go deeper than Phase 3, they will definitely affect services and student programs, Superintendent Cheryl Pedisich said at the district’s May 6 school board meeting. The board would have to decide whether to make deeper cuts to the budget or use district reserves, she said.

One thing officials do know is that they do not want to make cuts once the school year has begun and would not make cuts to instructional staff.

Pedisich said the district would have to look to reserves, because “any kind of midyear cuts in terms of services would be incredibly disruptive … and this year has been disruptive itself, so we don’t want to add to it and exacerbate the situation.”

The district held a hearing on the budget May 27. Carlson will also give a budget presentation June 1 at 6:45 p.m. at the Three Village Joint Council of PTAs virtual Meet the Candidates night on Zoom. This program will allow residents to hear from the six candidates running for three seats on the school board.

Also, the Three Village Civic Association and Three Village Chamber of Commerce will jointly host an online Meet the Candidates event Thursday, May 28, at 7 p.m. via Zoom conferencing. For information about how to be part of the online meeting, go to the websites of either the civic association, www.threevillagecivics.org, or the chamber of commerce, www.3vchamber.com, for links to the Zoom meeting.

Incumbents Inger Germano, Irene Gische and Dr. Jeff Kerman are running against Shaorui Li, David McKinnon and Vinny Menten.

All 34,025 registered voters in Three Village will receive ballots with paid return postage to vote on the 2020-21 budget and board trustees. Ballots must be returned to the office of the district clerk at the North Country Administration building by 5 p.m. on June 9.

Visit www.tbrnewsmedia.com for profiles on each of the candidates.

Smithtown school district's administrative Joseph M. Barton building on New York Avenue. Photo by Kyle Barr

Earlier this month, residents were given a glimpse of the new Smithtown Central School District budget figures. Due to reductions to transportation and foundation aid, school officials expect a 2.26 percent or $1,044,045 decrease in overall state aid. In 2020-21, the district would be set to receive $45,067,751 compared to $46,111,796 from last year.

The district’s current proposal would see an overall budget total of $255.20 million which would be a 1.50 percent and $3.77 million increase from last year’s budget. Its tax levy amount would come out to $201.46 million, an increase of 1.82 percent.

The current budget will still maintain all current programming, adds “Foreign Language Elementary School – Spanish K & 1st Grade,” also “electives at high schools — American Sign Language & Chinese/Mandarin.”

In addition, the district discussed options it could take if there are more state aid reductions. These options include offsetting revenue loss with the fund balance and/or reserves (utilizing the 2019-20 surplus), expense reductions to balance the budget or a combination of the two.

Voting will be done through ballots mailed to residents, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and are due back to the district by 5 p.m. June 9.

Trustee Elections

Residents will elect three individuals to the BOE to a three-year term seat. Incumbents Matthew Gribbin and Jerry Martusciello are running unopposed, while trustee Frank James will face challenger Kevin Craine for the remaining seat.