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Local officials urge schools to consider no tax hikes in budget

Long Beach School District adopts budget with no tax hike

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Following the Long Beach School District’s adoption of a budget with a zero percent tax levy, local officials on Thursday urged other school districts to follow suit.

At a news conference at Long Beach High School, State Senator Todd Kaminsky, a Long Beach Democrat, was joined by county, state and Long Beach school officials, in asking other districts to reconsider their budget after the state senate secured $417 million in state aid for Long Island schools. The Long Beach district received more than $1.7 million in state and was able to eliminate a previously considered tax levy.

“As a taxpayer here in Long Beach, but also as a parent of a kindergarten student at Lindell Elementary School, I’m grateful to Dr. [Jennifer] Gallagher, her staff and the entire school board for this responsible decision,” Kaminsky said. “And to the other school districts on Long Island, today we’re here for a simple message -- please reconsider what you’re doing. Follow Long Beach as an example and to the extent you can, reconsider your property tax increases.”

The district has also received an extra $600,000 in foundation aid, Michael DeVito, the district’s assistant superintendent of finance and operations, said at an April 13 board meeting. School officials said they are eliminating the pandemic adjustment line that reduced the district’s state aid in the amount of about $458,871 in the current year. The district’s federal CARES Act allocation is $458,871 and fully offsets the loss of state aid, Devito said at the meeting.

Long Beach was also able to add a new medical assisting program, which will take over the space the NIKE program occupied and other new electives such as public speaking and journalism to the high school.

Kaminsky noted that the aid includes $270 million in foundation aid, with 60 percent to be funded this year, 80 percent next year and 100 percent the following year.

“As taxpayers, we all realize that Long Island needs to be more affordable and tax relief is a must,” Kaminsky said. “The math can be simple. The more state aid we secure for our schools, from Albany, the less the taxpayer should be called upon to shoulder the burden.”

Gallagher and board trustees Sam Pinto and Tina Posteli praised collaborative efforts between the board and the district, which led to a budget that was lower than the current spending plan and with no tax levy.

“As a board of ed trustee, we also have the responsibility not only to the district and to the children, but also to the taxpayers,” Pinto. “We’re elected by the taxpayers as the stewards to be fiscally responsible and to make sure that we can all continue to live here and to be affordable.

State Senator Kevin Thomas, a Democrat from Levittown, attended the news conference to encourage schools in his district to follow Long Beach’s fiscal steps.

“This has been an incredibly difficult year for everyone especially our school staff, teachers and students,” Thomas said. “Now more than ever we need to invest to make sure our children not only recover from the crisis but thrive in it.”

Thomas’s district six covers Hempstead, Uniondale, East Meadow and Wantagh, among several others towns.