Middle Country BOE adopts budget

Middle Country BOE adopts budget

School board trustees James Macomber and Doreen Feldmann at the board meeting on April 22. Photo by Barbara Donlon

The Middle Country school board unanimously adopted a nearly $236 million budget for the 2015-16 school year on April 22. The proposed budget will now head to a public vote this May.

“This is the first time in 10 years that we’re looking at stabilizing the district,” board President Karen Lessler said prior to the vote. “Ten years we’ve been through a reduction of funding by the state of New York.”

The president called the budget “solid,” as it keeps current programs intact, no excessing of staff will happen and it includes a continuation of the popular science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – know as STEM – program that has been a hit in the district. The spending plan is also tax levy increase cap compliant.

At the district’s budget presentation on April 1, Lessler announced the district would receive back roughly 60 percent of the Gap Elimination Adjustment money. The deduction in aid district is currently looking at a loss of $3.3 million, which is less than year’s past.

“I want to be clear that this is not extra money that we’re getting,” Lessler said at an April 1 meeting. “This is money that we’re entitled to have. It has been earmarked in our budget and there has been a reduction in this funding and finally this year we’re seeing some restoration of these funds.”

Under the plan, residents with an average home assessed at $2,200 will pay an extra $93.19 in taxes next year.

Like many other districts across the state, Middle Country is adding staff in order to comply with a state-mandated English as a second language initiative, which aims to help students whose first language is not English. The district will add two to three teachers to meet the mandate.

In regards to new programs, officials said the budget allocates funds for a science research program at the high school.

In an earlier presentation, Lessler said if the budget is voted down, sports, clubs, full-day kindergarten and the pre-kindergarten program are among items that could be negatively impacted.

A public hearing on the budget will be held on May 6 at the Newfield High School library. The budget vote and school board election will take place on May 19.