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Wednesday, October 1, 2014
High school board rethinks budget
State legislation prompts special meeting on April 8

As the baseball season kicked off for most big league clubs on Monday, state lawmakers threw a curveball of their own to school administrators and boards of education preparing to pierce the property tax levy cap.

The Valley Stream Central High School District Board of Education adopted a budget in March with a 1.49 percent tax levy increase that exceeds the district’s allowable increase of .049 percent. However, when the State Legislature approved its own budget on Monday, included in it was a provision offering tax rebates to homeowners who live within school districts that propose budgets at or below the tax levy limit.

“The punitive nature that’s built into this legislation is something we cannot pass onto our homeowners,” said Frank Chiachiere, board vice president. “In my view, it would be unconscionable to do so.”

Due to this new provision, which was passed late Monday, the board voted 7-2 on Tuesday to direct Superintendent Dr. Bill Heidenreich to present a tax cap- compliant budget next week. There will be a special meeting on April 8 at 8 p.m. where the board will adopt a new budget.

District administrators and board members also found out that an additional $750,000 in state aid was set aside for the district. In order to get within the tax cap, the district will use the additional state aid, but still have a roughly $450,000 gap to close. Heidenreich said in order to close that gap, the district would be restoring fewer programs and staff than what was adopted in March.

“It’s not so much the elimination of anything,” Heidenreich said. “It just means that we won’t be able to restore all the nice things we would like to restore.”

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