Wantagh School board adopts budget

Spending plan, totaling $91.7 million, reflects community needs


The Wantagh Board of Education has adopted an estimated $91.7 million spending plan for 2024-25, to be decided on by district residents in a vote on May 21.

The budget, roughly $2.2 million larger than the current spending plan, was finalized at the board’s April 4 meeting. The tax levy will total around $67.1 million, an increase of $1.8 million, or 2.72 percent, which falls below the district’s tax cap.

“We’re really fortunate in terms of the position we’re in this year with our budget,” Superintendent John McNamara said. “Other districts are in less great shape, and I think we’re in a really good spot for this upcoming budget vote.”

The spending plan was the focus of four development meetings in March and April, at which McNamara spoke of its primary goals. Focus groups and surveys conducted by the district revealed that residents’ top three priorities for the 2024-25 academic year were reductions in class sizes, security enhancements and capital improvements.

“This budget clearly reflects that,” McNamara said of the survey results. “We’re able to accomplish those three things, so that feedback was certainly helpful from the community.”

Wantagh Elementary School, according to McNamara, has seen higher class sizes over the years compared with the Forest Lake and Mandalay elementary schools. Next year, the average class size at Wantagh Elementary will be reduced to around 20 students, thanks to the addition of two full-time teachers at the school, McNamara said.

For added security, he explained, the district is looking to upgrade camera and lockdown management systems, and improve the public address system at the elementary schools. Some of that work has already started, McNamara added, and will continue through the summer. There will also be more security personnel, which has been part of the district’s long-term plan for the district.

“This will be Year Three of that three-year plan to slowly increase our security staff and improve our security infrastructure as well,” McNamara said.

The proposed budget will include capital projects to improve infrastructure throughout the district. Hallway ceilings, speakers and smoke detectors will be replaced at the high school, and the auditorium’s lighting and sound will be improved. There are also plans to replace the floors and asphalt at Wantagh Middle School, and to paint and renovate the floors and wall pads in the school’s gym. In other buildings, floors, doors and fencing will be replaced.

A separate proposition on the ballot will be for the use of roughly $1.2 million from the district’s capital reserve to upgrade P.A. and communication systems throughout the district as part of its goal to enhance security.

“They’re old analog systems, so we’ll be upgrading those,” McNamara said.

The third proposition voters will decide on would establish a new $10 million capital reserve for a period of 15 years, to be used for districtwide repairs, renovations, additions and improvements.

According to Anthony Cedrone, the assistant superintendent for business, state aid will total around $22.1 million.

“That is an increase over this year, which has obviously helped offset some of the expenditure increases that we’ve been experiencing,” Cedrone said of the state aid.

Voting on May 21 will take place at Wantagh, Forest Lake and Mandalay elementary schools from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information, go to wantaghschools.org.