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Superintendent: Smithtown Schools Didn't Expect State Aid Cut

The state aid reduction alone from 2012-13 to 2013-14 is roughly $630,000.

While many factors have the Smithtown Central School District facing 2013-14 budgeting difficulties, Superintendent Anthony Annunziato said the unexpected reduction in state aid is the biggest blow to date.

The district is budgeted to receive $37.7 million in state aid in 2013-14, compared to the actual amount Annunziato said Smithtown schools received for the 2012-13 school year of $38.3 million, resulting in a reduction of roughly $630,000.

The number the district actually received for the 2012-13 school year is different than the $37.5 million Annunziato said during his Jan. 22 budget presentation because he received the number after the meeting.

In a phone interview Friday, Annunziato said the district took the biggest hit when Gov. Andrew Cuomo decided to reallocate state aid from some districts to others in his upcoming budget. 

That reallocation of aid is evidenced in the reduction of high tax aid the district will receive. The Smithtown Central School District is scheduled to receive $580,203 in the 2012-14 school year. The district received $1.9 million in high tax aid in 2012-13.

“That money was used by the governor to shift aid from some districts to others,” Annunziato said. “Essentially what that caused us is a decrease in state aid when we were expecting an increase, and shifted it to other districts.” 

The question the district faces now is how they will make up for the lost state aid and increase in expenditures, which is roughly $11.9 million. 

“We were expecting an increase in state aid and what we’ve seen in a loss. Are we going to pierce the cap? Are we going to make reductions? I have to lay out the options to the board,” he said.

For the 2011-12 school year to save money the district suggested to make cuts to bussing, a suggestion that was voted into fruition during the budget vote. The vote was marred by controversy and eventually overturned by a second vote.

Annunziato said while everything that could be reduced to make up for the deficit will be examined, bussing cuts is not on his radar. 

“At this point it’s not something I’m looking at but I’m not going to sit here and say that down the road [it won’t be] if we still face deficits,” he said. “We have to look at everything.”

Annunziato said the governor's proposed numbers are subject to change based on negotiations with members of the legislature, and if the state aid amount the district could receive increases by the April 1 soft deadline would go towards lowering the tax levy.

With no guaranteed increase, the superintendent is moving forward with the budget planning with the numbers the district has now.

“We don’t have too many options,” Annunziato said. “I’m already using more reserves than we’ve done in the past because we don’t have a choice, we’re looking at making reductions and prioritizing those reductions.

A budget hearing will be held Feb. 5 at 7 p.m. in the Joseph M. Barton Building on New York Avenue.

scsddad January 30, 2013 at 07:21 PM
Pam Now let's hope we start electing new board members that will work with him and start fixing some of the problems this district has. We don't need anymore board members that worry more about the STA needs over the students needs. We also need new board members with new ideas to help fix the problems and get rid of the old board members that were part of our problems
Pam January 30, 2013 at 11:13 PM
@ scsddad well said.
Sticks60 February 01, 2013 at 05:08 AM
What we really need to get rid of is all of the one sided contracts
ergodic February 03, 2013 at 10:17 PM
According to page 32 of the Jan 22 presentation on the 2013-14 budget, the estimated tax levy cap is $176M, a 3.5% increase in the tax levy. If the eventual adopted budget retains this tax levy and if the assessed valuation is unchanged from 2012-13, then the tax rate will also increase by 3.5%, But if assessed valuation continues to decrease (assume $0.9M decrease based on the graph on pg22 of the Jan 22 presentation), then the tax rate could increase to 4.2%. NYSED data shows that Supt Compensation (salary+benefits+other) in Smithtown CSD (as of 05/2012) is $329,753, in Commack $376,500 (the highest in Suffolk), in Northport $297,602, and in HHH $297,002. The average comp. for the three Assistant Supts. in Smithtown is $233,409, and in Commack $236,981.
knee jerk March 22, 2013 at 01:01 PM
@Kim: Don't move to the west: Kings Park, Commack, Elwood, Huntington,Half Hollow Hills, etc, etc, are all in the same boat as Smithtown financially, but maybe the children are a bit advanced. Not enough, though, to make a difference.

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