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Budget 'Yes' Means No More Cuts

Voters approve 3.8 percent tax increase; district avoids contingency plan.

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
Johny Q May 18, 2011 at 12:52 PM
As a teacher I would like to thank everyone for your support. I will now be able to breath a little easier over the summer vacation .
Stephanie Carvan May 18, 2011 at 02:36 PM
Ok, so the state mandates teachers only work for 180 days. Three Village teachers work 182 days that equals to 6 months throughout the year exactly. So our teachers earn a an average salary of $87,000 PLUS benefits, they get 6 months off during the year, and our state ELA rankings are putting us in the bottom 50% throughout Long Island so exactly what are we getting for our money again?
Elizabeth J. May 18, 2011 at 03:43 PM
Maybe you've never seen the famous "Teachers are Babysitters" blog post: "Teachers’ hefty salaries are driving up taxes, and they only work 9 or 10 months a year. It’s time we put things in perspective and pay them for what they do. babysit. We can get that for less than minimum wage. That's right. Let’s give them $3 an hour and only the hours they worked; not any of that silly planning time, or any time they spend before or after school. That would be $19.50 a day 7:45 to 3:00 PM with 45 min. off for lunch and plan– that equals 6.5 hours. Each parent should pay $19.50 a day for these teachers to babysit their children. Now how many students do they teach in a day, maybe 30? So that’s $19.50 x 30 = $585.00 a day. However, remember they only work 180 days a year. I am not going to pay them for any vacations. LET’S SEE, that’s $585 X 180= $105,300 per year....What about those special education teachers and the ones with master’s degrees? Well, we could pay them minimum wage ($7.75), and just to be fair, round it off to $8.00 an hour. That would be $8 X 6 1/2 hours X 30 children X 180 days = $280,800 per year. Wait a minute — there’s something wrong here. There sure is. The average teacher’s salary nationwide is $50,000. $50,000/180 days = $277.77/per day/30 students=$9.25/6.5 hours = $1.42 per hour per student– a very inexpensive babysitter and they even EDUCATE your kids! WHAT A DEAL!" –From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blo
Stephanie Carvan May 18, 2011 at 05:58 PM
That's righ Maureen and for some odd reason private school teachers work for far less and produce so much more. Ummm, can someone say accountability?
Raissa May 19, 2011 at 02:39 AM
When I taught in private school, a family of four was actually eligible for food stamps the salaries were so low -- and still are. Classes were too large and special services and enrichment were virtually non-existent. I left to teach in the public school system to earn a decent salary and to have the resources needed to do my best for my students. Private school teachers do not "produce so much more," whatever that means. There are strong and weak teachers in both systems. If a private school is getting better results I guarantee it is due to a higher level of support for the teacher coming from the parents.
Stephanie Carvan May 19, 2011 at 03:45 AM
Terri, You make a fair and decent point about strong and weak teachers being everywhere. You also make an accurate statement about salaries being too low in private education - which I have always thought was unfair. BUT there is a lack of accountability in public education that doesn't exist in private and that is where the private teachers "produce so much more". Those numbers I saw based on our district's ELA disheartened me tremendously about what it is that our district is really accomplishing. Your guarantee of higher level of home support tends to comes from a hi socio-economic demographic, which Setauket School has, yet it ranks below the 50th percentile on Long Island for 4th grade ELA math. Do I want to waste my money on schools that can't compete with the top scorers yet taxes me like they are? Why would I not move to the better districts and pay the same or even more if my child was going to get the fullest potential of learning? There is no ROI that I see by my allowing my children to stay in 3 Village for these kinds of taxes. For me, the recent BOE election sadmly enlightened me about what is truly going on in our district.
Amuser May 19, 2011 at 11:03 PM
From our Facebook page, Tricia Sonsire remarked "I'm very pleased our community approved the budget! Our children should not have to bear the burden of political agendas. And I'm very pleased our community showed support for our new pro-education Board members. Yayy 3Village!"
Stephanie Carvan May 20, 2011 at 12:55 AM
They were all "pro-education" but I think those who drink the kool-aid believe that term to be exclusive to only "pro-union politics". Tell me, why is our country falling behind internationally again?
parent/tax payer May 22, 2011 at 05:57 PM
180 days per year.......... minus staff dev days. Minus 1/2 days during regents. Minus superintendent days. No learning for the kids on those days & most staff uses those days as a sick or personal time off. The TVTA contract is killing us w/the amount of mandated sick & "mental health days" also. Stipend pay is not included in base salary & factors into retirement benefits. What TVTA teachers pay into health benefits including qualification for family coverage is minimal compared to other LI public teacher contracts. Check out NYS Public Integrity Bureau & Pension Padding.
parent/tax payer May 22, 2011 at 06:11 PM
Johny Q.....I'm sure you're an awesome educator. As a resident and parent of TV I will say this however. I'm tired of being labeled as "anti-teacher" because I question the efforts and actions of your union president.


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