The Levittown Board of Education adopted a school district budget authorizing a total expenditure of $197 million dollars and an associated tax levy of 3.43 percent for the 2011-2012 school year.
The adopted budget will be presented to voters of the Levittown School District on May 17, 2011.
Residents and teachers took the podium in a Public Be Heard session in the meeting that commenced after the introduction of new incoming superintendent of schools James Grossane. MacArthur senior class president Evan Gardner spoke first, and noted the importance of preserving non-mandated (state or federal) classes such as digital media production, photography and music.
"These types of classes help to mold us students into well-rounded adults," said Gardner. "Take music for instance. Being a part of the school band provided a different type of education that I could not get from a traditional classroom setting. It helped me to learn responsibility and practice, as my band mates were counting on me to know my part.
Several concerned parents implored the board to consider the implications of increased class sizes. "It is hard enough for teachers to differentiate lesson plans for different types of learners in class sizes of 19 students," said Levittown educator Teresa Thomas.
Other concerns discussed in the public comment period included proposed cuts to the district's library media program and other reductions at the elementary school level.
Seaford resident Kathleen Vaughan Ware presented a petition to the board signed by over 700 of the district's taxpayers in support of the re-election of Board President Michael Pappas and Vice President Peter Porrazzo.
Many audience members were brought to tears by a heartfelt, poignant speech delivered by Trustee Edward Powers.
"There's no good way to balance this budget without significant cuts," said Powers. "We've added so much over the last 10 or 15 years that we just can't afford it anymore. I've been on the board for two years and I've added one program, which is the swim team. To say in 700 days on the job that that's my biggest accomplishment to the district is incredibly disappointing and saddening. To say that I'm going to send incredible teachers home is incredibly disappointing, but there's no other way. People have gotten to the point where they can't afford to stay in the community that they helped build. We're holding out hope on certain things to make the impact on our kids as light as possible."
The Board appointed George Chesterton to the position of Interim Assistant Superintendent for Business and Finance for the period April 26, 2011 through June 30, 2011 and approved a decrease in Driver Education tuition from $550 to $470 for the summer 2011 semester.
The next board meeting will be a BOCES Vote Planning Session and will take place on April 27 at 7:30 p.m. at the Memorial Education Center.