Huntington boosts program funding with new budget

Huntington boosts program funding with new budget

Huntington High School. File photo.

Huntington is investing in their students with a $123.1 million budget that the school board adopted at its meeting on Monday night.

The 2016-17 budget total is 2.25 percent higher than the current year’s budget, with the most significant cost increases coming from instruction and curriculum-related programs.

Superintendent Jim Polansky said the district is dedicated to offering the most effective tools it can for students.

“[Members of the board and community] don’t get a chance to compare what we have here and what is available in other districts, but I’ve had the privilege of working in, [for] over 26 years, more than one school district and I can tell you, what we do here is we pay for student interests and needs,” Polansky added. “We try to put something in place that will appeal to every student that goes to school in Huntington.”

Some of the expenses being added for 2016-17 include improvements to computer-assisted instruction, through equipment upgrades and repairs; programs for students with disabilities; additional funding for the district’s robotics program; and a new Advanced Placement research course.

“This works more like a process-oriented course,” Polansky said of the program. “We feel that this … program is going to add a dimension that we have not touched upon until now.”

Some of the budget increase can also be attributed to contracted salary raises and additional social security and health care costs.

However, even with those cost increases, the district will stay within the state-imposed cap on tax levy increases — the schools will only collect 1.61 percent more in taxes next year.

Polansky said throughout the budget process that the administration’s goal was to adopt a budget below that cap, and as a result residents will again receive a rebate check from New York State — if voters approve the adopted budget — under a state incentive program that encourages municipalities to comply with the cap in exchange for the tax rebates.

Apart from taxes, the district is funding its additional expenditures through additional state aid.

After years of deducting aid funds from school districts around New York through a cut called the Gap Elimination Adjustment, which was designed to balance the state budget, legislators this year restored the aid dollars — giving Long Island school districts a $3 billion boost, when added to other increases in state aid. Huntington received nearly $2 million in additional state funding for the upcoming school year thanks to that restoration.

Residents will vote on the budget on May 17, as well as a second proposition that would release money from the district’s capital reserves to fund upgrades across the district to make buildings compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act.