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Wantagh S.D. presents amended budget

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Just one week after the Wantagh School District’s preliminary 2019-20 draft budget was presented to the board of education in the first preliminary budget forum, the second forum revealed some changes.

The proposed preliminary budget is now roughly $80 million, having decreased by nearly $350,000, according to Superintendent John McNamara and Assistant Superintendent for Business Adriana Silver in a presentation to the Board of Education. The overall budget increase year-over-year was cut to 2.70 percent from 3.15 percent.

Preliminary budget numbers from other revenue, including the appropriated fund balance and reserves, declined by roughly 0.4 percent, or $348,655, since the initial March 11 presentation, making the current total for this group roughly $3.3 million.

The summary of revenue, including state aid contained in the budget approved on April 1, also showed some adjustments. The summary also includes payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs), as well as the assigned fund balance and reserves and the amount to be raised in taxes.

The assigned fund balance — funds that are allocated for specific purposes — and reserves declined by $348,655, bringing the total to $80,056,861. The property tax levy in the draft budget equals 74.3 percent of the total, or roughly $59.5 million.

During the presentation, McNamara reviewed instructional staffing adjustments that affect the preliminary budget.

The district plans to expand the Elementary Special Education program. Two special education classes will be added at Mandalay Elementary School with a ratio of six students to one teacher to one aide — 6:1:1. This will allow five students, who would have required placements outside the district to remain in Wantagh, according to McNamara. The district will be reimbursed for their tuition.

The program will also include the increased expense of two additional special education teachers and classroom aides, as well as an additional psychologist and attendant support services.

According McNamara, as enrollment has decreased in the past 12 years, the district currently estimates an elimination of roughly 19.5 full-time staff positions. In addition, throughout the past 12 years, programs have been added in special education, English as a New Language, full-day kindergarten, elementary Science Technology Engineering Arts Mathematics programs, A.P. Capstone and increased mental health and technology support.

High school enrollment has gone down by 14 students since last year while middle school enrollment fallen by 25; elementary school sections will remain stable.