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Levittown Schools Proposed Budget Calls for 2.94 Percent Increase

The board of education held the first budget presentation on Wednesday for the 2013-14 year.

Credit: Chris Boyle
Credit: Chris Boyle
Story by Chris Boyle.

Despite financial hardships brought about by a state-mandated two percent tax cap and increasing expenditures, the Levittown school district announced this week that there will be no program cuts in their proposed 2013-14 budget.

Assistant Superintendent of Business and Finance Mark Flower held a presentation of the District’s first draft of next year’s budget, expressing the difficulty of crafting a spending plan that meets Levittown’s needs in light of the new tax cap.

"Prior to the tax cap, we would have our educational programs as a base, and that dictate the expenditures needed to support them, and the revenue needed to support those expenditures,” he said. “When the tax cap came into play, it really changed the way that schools develop their budgets...now the revenue side is the driving force, and that sets the expenditures, which is backing down into the educational programs.”

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But despite the financial hurdles to overcome, Flower did confirm that no programs will cut or changed next year, although budget issues and enrollment numbers may dictate possible staffing changes.
 
As for the hard numbers, the proposed 2013-14 budget presently clocks in at $195,590,205, which is a 2.94 percent increase over the previous year’s budget of $189,996,581.

According to Flower, the increase can be attributed to several factors:
 
    •    Levititown’s Teacher Retirement System contribution increasing from 11.84 percent to 16.25 percent.
    •    Healthcare costs increasing 7.9 percent for the fist half of the calendar year, followed by a 10 percent increase for the second half.
    •    Increased BOCES Special Education services by 6 percent.
    •    Middle school security camera installations.
    •    New phone system for the District.
    •    Medicare Part D reimbursement resulting in a loss of $1.1 million in revenue.

The maximum allowable Tax Levy for 2013-14 currently stands at 3.52 percent; however, the actual Tax Levy has not yet been calculated due to the budget’s early state.

“The actual Tax Levy could be anywhere from zero to 3.52 percent,” Flower said. “However, I think it’s save to say that the School Board does not what to pierce the cap.”

In contrast to increasing District expenses, Flower stated that state aid to Levittown will increase by 2 percent; however, he stated that this provides little help when looking at the big picture.
 
“It’s not even close to being able to keep up with what our expenditures are,” he said, adding that the District will have to start dipping into their savings in order to make ends meet next year.
 
Board of Education President Mike Pappas praised the initial draft of the 2013-14 budget, citing how many other schools were being forced to make cuts to vital student programs that Levittown has thus far been able to avoid.
 
“I want to thank everyone in this administration for their hard work in getting us to this point,” he said. “There are a lot of school districts on Long Island that are closing buildings, eliminating all-day kindergarten, eliminating technological purchases, going to an eight-period day...and while I don’t think in any way, shape, or form that these problems are looming on the horizon for us, we will continue to look to the future. We’ve made is another year, and that’s a good thing.”
 
The next budget presentation of the Levittown School District will be held on March 20.
Steve February 28, 2013 at 10:55 AM
Talk about revisionist history Mr. Pappas. Did the district not eliminate 55 teaching positions?
Levittown Taxi February 28, 2013 at 09:05 PM
LETS POST FACTS !! Teacher positions were caused by the refusal of the Union President to allow the freedoms to the union body as in other districts. Her greed has cost the children education and her NOW FORMER union members jobs in the district. 2 years in a row the union was asked to agrre to a pay freeze , her responce was only given in the second year proposel which was proven to only require more money from the taxpayers tens of millions more over the following years than if nothing was changed. Meaning higher pay raises then they currently were getting which were outragous at a average of 7.5% a year as stated by the Business Superentendent in the 2011 school year.
Levittown Taxi February 28, 2013 at 09:09 PM
Also another reason for elimination of staff was do to a lower enrollment in the district but why would you want people to KNOW FACTS!!
Steve March 01, 2013 at 02:21 AM
Its basic accounting here and understanding the future value of a recurring expenditure ( salaries).
Steve March 01, 2013 at 02:52 AM
The district was looking at a 15-20 million dollar deficit that would have decimated the educational system as we know it THIS YEAR. (The variation in the deficit was based upon the volatility of state aid and the ability to raise the levy to meet additional expense increases.) Lets assume that the number this year would have been 15 million, the lower estimate. Lets safely assume that the average salary and benefit package for the lowest 120 teachers on the seniority list is 110k.
Steve March 01, 2013 at 02:53 AM
Using those numbers, the district would have had to cut 136 teachers this year. That is more staffing than any of the HS, or MS. 2.5 elementary schools. (Keep in mind that the 3 year enrollment drop of 300 students would have resulted in 30 staff reductions over the 3 year period )
Steve March 01, 2013 at 02:53 AM
The district asked the union for a wage freeze that would have saved over 5 mil. The union said NO. The district sent out mandatory excess letter to any person who might have a chance to be “reached” by the reduction in staff. The total reduction was 43 teachers that year. The district then enforced the 6 period teaching rule on those teachers that were contractually obligated to teach 6. This was the reason that the parents did not see class size shoot through the roof in any year.
Steve March 01, 2013 at 02:53 AM
By cutting 43 teaching positions in what will now be 3 budgets ago, the district managed to save over 5 million per year in a recurring expense, salary. This is going on to the third year of the savings realization, which means the district saved the 15 million it needed. With population expected to fall another 100 this year ( 8.33 FTE positions) the cut of 43 three years ago looks not only spectacular, but damn near clairvoyant.
Steve March 01, 2013 at 02:55 AM
Now for the bad news. The problem aint solved. It was just pushed forward another 2-3 years. But that’s 2-3 years longer than most schools in this state with most of its schools much further ahead than Levittown on well traveled rode to financial ruin . The hardest part here is determining who is driving that bus at breakneck speed. You could blame the cap, but I blame salaries whose growth has been unchecked for decades!
Steve March 01, 2013 at 11:05 AM
Wow, I'm sorry for the confusion. I am the Steve that wrote the really really long winded posts above. I had to break it up because it wouldn't let me post it as one long one. I live in the school district and try to remain involved in the finances. I didn't write the first one about the 55 positions. I don't know where that "55" number even came from. Soooo sorry for having been born with the same name LOL but I don't want anyone to think that I was surreptitiously speaking for somebody else, and to the first poster with the cool name too, sorry, if I noticed your name first, I would have registered as Steven, not Steve and avoided the confusion..
Generals Fan March 05, 2013 at 03:17 PM
Here we go again, another round of budget talks with a budget increase of 2.94%. We would have to be crazy to accept this. Especially when 84% of the budget is teacher salaries, health care and pensions. What's left over goes to our kids. With that, they are not getting the education they deserve. More and more parents are hiring tutors to do the job teachers should be doing. If we accept this 2.94% increase there will be no reason to negotiate for the homeowners of Levittown. If all else fails, vote no. Not looking to hurt the kids, but to help the taxpayers in Levittown.

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