This year’s budget talks have a much different feel than last year’s for the Valley Stream Central High School District Board of Education. There are no proposed layoffs, no student transportation debate and no athletic teams on the chopping block. In fact, the board is considering adding some items back.
At a board work session on Feb. 4, Superintendent Dr. Bill Heidenreich announced that the district’s maximum allowable tax levy increase is .049 percent, which means in order to have a tax cap-compliant budget, the district can raise an additional $36,000 from property taxes over the current year.
The board discussed three options for its 2014-15 budget — one that is tax-cap compliant and would require a simple majority to pass, and two others that would pierce the cap, reduce class sizes and restore electives, requiring a 60 percent majority to pass.
The first option, which is within the cap, features a tax levy increase of .047 percent. It totals $107.24 million and simply maintains existing programs and staffing levels.
Option 2 has a tax levy increase of .99 percent, which increases the budget by about $785,000. That money, administrators said, would go toward class size reductions, restoring electives and technology initiatives.
The third option has a 1.49 percent tax levy increase for a total of $108.48 million. It would further reduce class sizes, restore electives and include technology initiatives, but also create a position to head Memorial Junior High School’s math program and add four teaching assistants in each school.
“There are pros and cons to piercing the cap that I think everyone is well aware of,” Heidenreich said. “On the one hand, there is a stigma attached to it that you’re not living within your means. On the other hand, it does allow the district to do some nice things and restore some lost programs that have impacted the quality of instruction in the district.”