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Monday, September 22, 2014
Rockville Centre Board of Education gets budget in line
Cuts enough to bring school spending under tax cap

At a meeting last week, the Rockville Centre Board of Education began finalizing the 2013-14 school budget, cutting $1.3 million in order to keep the increase in spending under the state-mandated property tax cap without eliminating any programs.

Under the tax cap, the district needed to limit its tax levy increase to approximately $3.5 million. But the initial budget proposal put that increase at $4.8 million — in which case the district would need a supermajority of at least 60 percent of residents to vote in favor of the budget for it to pass. By keeping the tax levy increase under the limit, the district will need only a simple majority for the budget to pass.

To make that possible, the board cut its first plan. One of the first things to go was the proposed replacement of English 12R with the International Baccalaureate English class. The district decided, instead, to keep 12R, but to change the curriculum to I.B. Students taking 12R would not, however, be required to take the I.B. exam. They would be able to opt in or out of the I.B. exam while still following the I.B. curriculum.

“The I.B. students will have a weighted grade and the 12R students will not,” explained South Side High School Principal Dr. Carol Burris. “So we’ll make the rubric more gentle for the students that want to take it as 12R.” The 12R and I.B. students would be in the same classes, she added, as is the case in district chemistry classes. But the I.B. students would be given more and sometimes different assessments, which is why they would receive weighted grades.

The change would save the district $35,000.

“What’s really important to us,” Burris said, “is that the classes be classes that are accessible to all kids, and … we continue with the model that has worked so well for this high school, which is one great curriculum for everyone.”

The majority of the proposed budgetary savings came from cutting the district’s fund balance — money that is left over in the budget every year — by $2.8 million.

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