The Freeport Board of Education adopted its 2019-20 budget on April 16. After two months of planning and twice-a-month meetings, the assistant superintendent for business, Dr. Beth Rella, presented the $185 million proposed spending plan.
The district’s current $179 million budget will increase to roughly $184 million in 2019-20 — a 2.74 percent jump. New York state will provide about $81 million in education aid — a $3.8 million increase over the current year.
The district-wide plan cited increases in the budget due to required mandated costs, special education and BOCES, contractual salaries and fringe benefits, an increase in staff positions and other costs that includes — transportation, facilities, technology, programs, materials and equipment.
For the fifth straight year, the Freeport School District has proposed a budget that lowers the tax levy — the total amount that the district must raise in taxes to meet expenses. The tax levy has decreased seven of the last 12 years, and in the last 12 years, the annual levy increase average has been about 1.15 percent.
The newly adopted budget, according to the Board of Education, will continue to support after-school programs, including support for Advanced Placement and dual-enrollment courses. And it leaves room to add staff.
The budget also supports a number of district-wide renovation and upgrade projects expected to be funded with $1.5 million from the 2009 capital reserve and $2.5 million from the 2017 reserve. Projects include updating air conditioning district-wide, upgrading security, replacing windows and making other upgrades to school buildings.
Freeport Board of Education President Michael Pomerico and Vice President Anthony Miller will not run for the school board this year, leaving two open seats.
Five potential candidates have stepped forward and are running for the board. Among them are the president of Freeport PTA, Maria Jordan-Awalom, and her running mate, Gabriella Castillo. Freeport High School alumni Jeremy Impellizeri, who is the Village of Freeport’s environment commissioner, and Tanyria Taylor, owner of Boss Babies, are also vying for two seats. In addition, Sophia Johnson, the village’s public relations director, announced on April 12 that she would run for one of the two seats.
The Board of Education will hold a budget public hearing on May 8. The budget vote will take place Tuesday, May 21.