A $98.5-million draft budget for the 2012-13 school years proposed Tuesday night by the Hauppauge superintendent suggests hiring seven teachers, purchasing three vehicles and a proposition for renovations at two elementary schools.
Superintendent Patricia Sullivan-Kriss presented a $98,554,942 draft budget for the 2012-13 school year at the Board of Education meeting Tuesday night. The budget stays within the state's new 2 percent tax levy cap.
"Tonight, you see we will propose that we add programs, change programs and build on the services we provide to our students," Sullivan-Kriss said on Tuesday. "How can we do that with 2 percent tax cap? It will be obvious as we go through the presentation, some is wonderful fiscal management that has taken place the last two years and cost-saving measures."
The superintendent laid out a proposal that calls for hiring seven teachers without cutting back on student classes, clubs or sports. The district is hoping to hire 5 full-time special education teachers for its integrated co-teacher model in the elementary schools, a full-time teacher for its Languages Other Than English programs and a full-time Literacy Collaborative support person to support reading instruction.
Due to the hiring of 5 full-time teachers in the integrated co-teaching classes, formerly called inclusion classes, the district will be letting go of 16 teaching assistants.
Other changes to the budget include funds to purchase two minibuses and a maintenance van to replace the district's aging transportation fleet and a separate proposition for renovations at Forest Brook and Pines Elementary School.
The proposed budget represents a $1,378,439 budget-to-budget increase, up by 1.42 percent. While a smaller budgetary increase than the $3.2 milion increase approved for 2011-12, the proposal calls for raising the tax levy by $2,314,832 or 3.1 percent - just short of the 3.46 percent raised last year.
James Stucchio, assistant superintendent of Business and Operations, said the tax levy is more than the budget-to-budget increase because the district has lost money in a number of other revenue sources.
Hauppauge Public Schools expects to lose $296,976 in foundational aid and $10,804 in BOCES aid under state Gov. Andrew Cuomo's budget. In addition, the district will lose approximately $250,000 in Payment in Lieu of Taxes. Stucchio said Town of Smithtown informed school officials nine commercial businesses in Hauppauge will be ending their pilot programs, or business incentive programs, joining the district's regular tax base. This is expected to result in a loss revenue for the district.
In addition, Hauppauge school district received a one-time Federal Education Jobs Restoration grant of $673,609, incorporated in the 2011-12 school budget that it won't receive this year.
"Those three items alone come up to $1.1 million alone lost in other revenue sources. The only way that can be made up through is the property tax levy," Stucchio said.
Yet, residents in attendance Tuesday night immediately questioned how the district can propose raising the tax levy by 3.1 percent with the governor's new 2 percent tax levy in place.
Stucchio said that the 2 percent tax cap levy is a starting point that can be influenced by multiple factors. The district is allowed to increase the 2-percent tax levy cap based on growth of the local tax base and lose of pilot revenue based on a state-determined mathematical formula.
Hauppauge Public schools can also claim funds spent on debt service payment from the $26.8 million construction project, ongoing construction and transportation purchases are exempt.
As is, the draft budget would mean an estimated tax rate increase of 3.13 percent for Islip Town residents and 3.14 percent increase for Smithtown Town residents.