At their April 7 meeting, the Massapequa Board of Education unanimously voted to adopt their proposed budget for the 2016-17 school year for voter approval on May 17. The budget not only maintains all programs and services while adding new ones as well, but also sees a previously unheard-of reduction in taxes for local residents at the same time.
The adopted 2016-17 budget comes in at $189,746,159, which represents a zero percent increase from last year. In addition, the tax levy is set at -1.19 percent, which is a $1,836,635 decrease over taxes imposed upon residents for 2015-16.
Superintendent of Schools Lucille Iconis praised her staff for crafting such an effective spending plan, especially in light of the recent announcement that New York State not only has promised additional aid for school districts in this own 2016-2017 budget, but also the elimination of the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA), a program that was first enacted in the 2010-11 fiscal year to help cover shortfalls in the state’s own budget by siphoning funds from school aid.
“Tonight we’re very proud to present the budget, which is fiscally sound and very robust…I am very proud of this budget and I want to thank Mr. Adcock and everyone that worked to make this budget a reality,” she said. “Not only does it maintain all the programs, but it expands and enhances the programs…this is a very exciting time, and we’re glad that you’re here this evening to join us for it.”
Deputy Superintendent Alan C. Adcock went over the specifics of the budget, which he said was finely crafted in such a way to take maximum advantage of the additional funds provided this year by New York State, as well as passing along the benefits of that windfall to local taxpayers.
“The budget that we are proposing tonight is a zero percent increase…this would be the second year in a row [we have] a zero percent budget increase,” he said. “The recommendation of this budget as a result of having received additional state aid, in addition to the restoration of all of the GAP elimination money that had been withheld from school districts for a number of years, the school district will be reducing taxes by a little over $1.8 million, and this is the first time in 17 years that I have made that recommendation, and I think that’s a good one.”
Enhancements to existing services will include expanded reading and language programs, as well as investments in technology such as 3D printers and robotics. Other additions are coming as well.
Board of Education President Jane Ryan expressed her appreciation for the Massapequa school administration for their hard work and stated her pride in the new budget. She invited residents to come out on May 17 and actively support it by casting their votes.
“I want to thank everyone for putting together an excellent budget,” she said. “We’ve gotten back the GAP money and we have a negative Tax Levy…this is unprecedented, and I’m just so proud…we all have just worked so hard to do this for our students and our community.”
In addition to voting on the 2016-17 school budget on May 17, local residents will also have another item on the budget to consider; whether or not to approve a proposition to fund a major capital improvement of the Berner Middle School athletic fields.
“The fields there are in a very poor state of disrepair, and this proposition that you will be voting on is the renovation of that field,” he said. “The improvements will include new synthetic turf fields, a six lane synthetic rubber track, a new scoreboard, press box and bleachers, and multi-sport field lighting.”
The cost of the proposed improvements to the Berner athletic fields comes in at $3,296,781.