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Huntington to Vote on $109M Budget

Half-day kindergarten, layoffs and other cuts limit tax increase.

Huntington school district voters will go to the polls Tuesday to decide the fate of a frugal $109-million budget defined by rising costs and state aid cuts, layoffs and program reductions.

The budget represents a 3.15 percent tax rate increase, and a .23 increase over this year's budget. The district calculates that increase as about $253.20 on the average home assessed at $4,000.

To parents and students, the budget represents other, more personal losses, which for many meant the reduction of kindergarten to a half-day program. And for employees, the budget means of a loss of about 95 jobs.

Members of the Board of Education repeatedly used such terms “brutal” or “painful” or  “extremely difficult” to describe the budget process; another said, “This budget is making me a little sick” as they tried to reconcile the competing interests of keeping the tax increase down while trying to preserve favored programs or meet mandates.

Transportation costs, totaling nearly $9 million, were a favorite target of speakers and board members alike, with assistant superintendent Joseph Giani providing figures that show Huntington is busing far more students than required by state law.

Under state minimums, Huntington would have to provide busing for 1,656 students; in fact, the district provides busing for 4,465 students.

Assistant superintendent David Grackin said the personnel cuts included 50.5 teacher aides and 45.9 teachers; the latter figure includes two psychologists and 3 speech teachers.

Also lost was the boys’ junior varsity volleyball team.

Voters will choose two candidates to serve on the school board for the next three years and decide whether to spend set-aside funds for capital improvements, including the replacement of three oil tanks.

The likelihood of a state tax cap next year hung over discussions of this year’s budget. In early April, the district won the reinstatement of about $544,000 from the original cut in state aid of $1.75 million.

stan linden May 16, 2011 at 02:09 PM
Who has a home assessed at $4000.00 in Huntington? Look at the real cost. Benefits to teachers. Make them pay into retirement and health plans like the people who pay for it all.
stan linden May 16, 2011 at 02:12 PM
Volleyball? Cut all the expensive sports. You want football, let the parents pay for it. our kids are better off with more academic spending then astro turf football fields.
Morgan May 16, 2011 at 02:46 PM
Lots of people have homes assessed at 4000. That isn't the value of the home, that is the assessement number that is used to calculate your property taxes. Look at your tax bill - there is a "land value" number and then a "total value" number. The article is referencing an average "total value" for the average home owner of 4000. (not $4000). This number iis multiplied by the various tax rates to come up with each line item on your tax bill.
stan linden May 16, 2011 at 02:54 PM
You are correct. What I really meant to say is look at the whole bill. Mine is almost 14000.00
John Fay May 16, 2011 at 03:03 PM
Although I played sports throughout high school and totally support athletic programs, I feel sports should be the FIRST programs that should be cut from the budget before ANY academic programs are cut from it. Education for our children is what's going to keep America competitive with the rest of the world, not sports programs. Also, with the amount of mandatory testing requirements these kids are faced with today, how can they consider going to a half day kindergarten. I feel the percentage of kids affected with cutting sport is far less than the kids that are going to be affected with the cutting of academics, especially in the long run. I for one am going to vote against any of the incumbents on the school board and will vote against this budget due to the cutting of academics BUT, this will surely be a waste of time as this is the budget that was adopted and even if it fails, history dictates that during the revote it will pass. Amazing how you can keep having a vote on a school budget until it passes.
Morgan May 16, 2011 at 05:06 PM
Mine is getting up there too. It' s nearly doubled since we bought 15 years ago.
JSC May 16, 2011 at 08:18 PM
Pay to Play is illegal in NYS.
Pat Giles May 16, 2011 at 10:03 PM
Breaking News: Jen Hebert and Adam Spector are being endorsed by the Teachers Union in the School District #3 BOE Election
Dubious May 17, 2011 at 02:35 PM
I wholeheartedly agree that academics must be preserved above sports. I don't think a half-day kindergarten is the worst thing in the world, though, so I wouldn't mind that. It's a shame that anything at all has to be cut just to preserve the outrageous raises and benefits for teachers. Shame on them for being so ruthless in their greed that they don't even seem to care about their colleagues being laid off. That's what it's all about here, folks. The teacher raises and pension benefits are totally out of control, to the point that the rest of the public can no longer afford to support them. Who else is getting high-percentage raises these days? Most people haven't seen ANY raise in a long time. The teachers had a good run with their scam but now it's time to face the music.
Pam Robinson (Editor) May 17, 2011 at 06:24 PM
We are closing comments because of unsubstantiated accusations of criminality.

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