How the Lawrence school district is paying for programs and services with a proposed $101.99 million


At the understated and poorly attended Lawrence school district Board of Education meeting of March 18, the proposed 2024-2025 school year budget was unveiled.

If approved by district residents — voting is in May — it will be the sixth consecutive year of a 0 percent change in the tax levy, officials said there will no cuts to academic programs or staff. The opposite of that is happening in several districts across Long Island.

Capital projects are also on the way should the preliminary fiscal plan be approved, including adding a new roof and replacing the boilers at Lawrence High School, building a new equipment storage facility along with beginning the Federal Emergency Management Agency project. This is a $75 million project that includes construction of a seawall that will be built above the flood line elevation, surrounding the entirety of the school campus.

The tentative budget is $101.99 million, a 0.9 percent decrease from the current budget at $102.85 million. The tax levy — the amount of money the school district collects in taxes — remains the same at $85.95 million.

“Every year we receive a reduced capital line budget and our state aid is reduced, whatever increases we reduce elsewhere to keep the tax levy zero,” said Assistant Superintendent of Business and Operations Jeremy Feder. “If there wasn’t enough money for the accommodations we would find room to keep the budget within reduction.”

The budget development was driven by ensuring enrollment and staffing needs, the impacts of benefits including health insurance, transportation challenges and costs and navigating the provision of excellent education with an understanding of the tax impact, school officials said.

“We are not cutting any programs even with the ending of Covid funds and the loss of state aid,” said Superintendent Ann Pedersen.

The curriculum and instruction highlights include, maintaining successful education programs for the students, provide academic intervention and mental health support.

“We know that students need to be present both physically and mentally to learn,” she added. “We have a partnership with Northwell Health for a variety of supports in addition to having many mental health professionals on staff.”

An agreement with the Lawrence Teachers Association is creating academic intervention services. These are services to help students meet grade level standards  reading, math help, extended day services. This program is for the students that didn’t pass classes in high school and need these classes to graduate. Their work is done after their school day and is under the direction of a teacher.

The mental health support, and academic intervention standards are at the forefront for this year’s proposed budget.

“Kudos to Ann and Jeremy for doing a great job balancing the budget this year, they worked very hard on it,” said Board President Murray Forman.

The next board meeting is scheduled to review the second budget presentation on April 15 in the cafeteria at Lawrence High School, at 2 Reilly Road, at 8 p.m. A budget hearing is scheduled for May 7 at the same venue and time. Voting on the budget is May 21 from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

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