Valley Stream Central High School District's $149 million spending plan: taxpayer-friendly, packed with student perks


Funding for the long-delayed rebuilding of a worn-out storage area at Valley Stream South High School that will allow school clubs to store their equipment. New musical instruments, and new state-of-the-art lockers — even a possible districtwide music festival at Carnegie Hall. Much has been squeezed into the Valley Stream Central High School District’s proposed $149 million spending plan for the 2023-24 school year.

While administrators certainly share financial concerns with those in other districts across Long Island — from increased transportation costs, to supply chain logjams affecting renovations, to inflation ratcheting up the cost of basic building and school supplies — it appears that the district has avoided any major budgetary surprises this year.

Instead, district officials put forward a plan that will bump spending up by nearly $11 million — a 7.89 percent increase over the current budget. And thanks largely to a generous $10 million increase in state aid, to a total of $52 million, district officials will be able to spend more while keeping the proposed tax levy — the amount of money raised by property taxes — unchanged for a second straight year, at roughly $87.9 million.

There would be more money spent on transportation — specifically, the purchase of a large school bus for interscholastic athletics — as well as contractually obligated salary increases and benefits for teachers and other school employees, and special education services.

Expenditures will also maintain existing programs, from the district’s mental health wellness centers, to its automotive and nursing technical training programs, to its “twilight” alternative high school program, which enables students to earn high school diplomas in afternoon and night classes.

There will be new expenditures as well, including:

  • Free SATs for all students.
  • Culturally Responsive Instruction training for teachers.
  • Expansion of the Girls Inc. and My Brother’s Keeper initiatives.
  • A districtwide extra-curriculum robotics program, and a swim team.
  • English as a New Language support enhancements.
  • Financial literacy as a graduation requirement.
  • A districtwide music festival at Carnegie Hall.

Routine upgrades and repairs to school facilities and equipment are also planned, including concrete and blacktop repairs, furniture upgrades, and new lighting and sound in the Central High School auditorium.

Two propositions for capital reserve fund expenditures will also be on the ballot. Proposition One earmarks a maximum of $6.75 million from the existing fund balance for:

  • Districtwide hallway locker replacements.
  • Hallway tile renovations at Memorial Junior High School and North and South high schools.
  • Cafeteria and serving line renovations at North and South.
  • Central High School mental health clinic renovations.
  • Reconstruction of the garage and storage facility at South.

The second proposition would tap up to $1.95 million from the capital reserve fund for the renovation of the districtwide cosmetology department and the addition of a barbering suite at Central High, and the renovation of two science classrooms at Memorial Junior High.

Superintendent Wayne Loper also noted delays in previously approved capital projects, in particular the $4 million installation of new air-conditioning districtwide and the $5.9 million installation of artificial-turf fields at both North and South high schools, with completion dates still uncertain.

“Our projects are on hold, waiting for building permits from the State Education Department, and they are notoriously slow and understaffed,” Loper said. “Air-conditioning will not be done till probably November or December of this year. And the turf fields I’m hoping to start this summer.”   

The school budget vote is May 16.