Passage of the state budget restored just under a million dollars to the South Huntington school budget, Superintendent David Bennardo said Friday.
The key change in the passed budget involves the restoration of high tax aid, which was originally cut under Gov. Andrew Cuomo's budget proposal. Districts that rely heavily on property taxes, as most Long Island districts do, would have been particularly hard hit under the plan.
"That aid had gotten cut in half," Bennardo said. "It is restored. That is very, very good news." The district will see about $980,000 returned to its budget.
As the South Huntington Board of Education prepares its budget for adoption April 10, the district is still looking for savings, Bennardo said.
"We started the budget season with about a $3 million gap between exepcted revenues and needed expenditures," he said. Several administrative positions where openings have occurred will not be filled, he said, and administrators are seeking grants to cover other costs. In addition, the district has found about a half million dollars in energy savings.
Bennardo said that state Assemb. Chad Lupinacci, a former member of the school board, and state Sen. Carl Marcellino had been particularly effective in making the case that Long Island districts aren't all wealthy.
"We really had to thank Chad and Carl," he said. "They did a good job on impressing (the Legislature) that we’re not all riding polo ponies. That becomes the myth of Long Island."
The school board's next budget workshop is set for Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at Whitman High School, the final session before it votes April 10 on adoption. The board's current budget proposal comes in at about $148 million, which represents about a 3.7 percent budget-to-budget increase and a tax levy cap of about 3 percent. The budget will be presented to the public at a board meeting May 14, with the public vote and election set for May 21.
Lupinacci, meanwhile, said," “This year’s state budget demonstrates a very serious commitment to our children’s future,” said Lupinacci. “After the initial proposal by the governor, my office heard an overwhelming response in support of school aid restoration. With the support of residents across Long Island we’ve been able to restore this proposed cut and add on more.”