Residents' approval of the Three Village Central School District's proposed $174.6 million budget for the 2011-2012 school year translates to a projected tax levy increase of nearly a full percentage point higher than the original board goal of 3 percent, while averting further cuts to district programs.
The sweeping cuts affect a multitude of basic and extracurricular programs; maximized class sizes, elimination of certain sports teams and competitions, reduced security and fewer teachers are some of the most significant factors owing to the cuts' tally.
Had the budget been voted down Tuesday night, the district could have chosen between a re-vote on the same budget, a vote on a revised version or adoption of a contingency budget. The latter would have gone into effect automatically had a second vote failed.
"It is very gratifying that the community came together to support what I believe is an excellent budget that will provide for the children of this District," stated Interim Superintendent Neil Lederer. "I was very impressed with the budget development process and the excellent work our Board and administration did with regard to maintaining programs while meeting the financial obligations of the school district.
"I am also greatly appreciative of the bargaining units for their assistance in contract negotiations. Today is a terrific day for our school district."
According to a recent presentation by Jeff Carlson, assistant superintendent for business services, the contingency budget would have increased the tax levy by only 3.4 percent. That number would have been reduced to 2.4 percent with the use of federal job fund money left over from this year.
The savings, however, would have come with a budget increase cap of 2.2 percent, which would have yielded a $170.8 million budget requiring several millions more in spending cuts.
The proposed budget carries a 4.47 percent increase over that of 2010-2011. This is balanced by the projected 3.8 percent tax levy increase, as well as $1.4 million in cuts to student programs and services and more than $4 million in savings from contractual concessions by faculty and a teachers' retirement incentive.
The proposed budget passed with a 59 percent majority. Of the five elementary schools where votes were cast, Setauket's saw the closest vote with a margin of 18. The other four averaged a margin of 274.
There were approximately 400 more votes on this year's budget than last year's, according to Carlson.BUDGET VOTE Yes No Margin Arrowhead 594 270 +324 Minnesauke 809 596 +213 Mount 665 360 +305 Nassakeag 641 399 +242 Setauket 912 894 +18
3,621 (59.0%) 2,519 (41.0%) +1,102