Community Budget Forum

The East Islip School District Board of Education held a Community Budget Forum last night, presenting information about the upcoming 2012-2013 school budget, including the factual data and potential impact of the new state-imposed tax levy cap.  Preliminary monetary figures were offered, and community members were invited to discuss their ideas and concerns.

“Like each of you here tonight, East Islip is my home, where I choose to raise and educate my family,” noted Board of Education President Glenn Reed. “The current economic climate here in East Islip, and indeed the world, is challenging in many ways, most certainly for our system of education. Each of us must put forth our best efforts, recognizing and balancing the need for change as well as the need for continuity in order to achieve success.”

After Reed’s opening remarks , the lights were dimmed and Superintendent John J. Finello presented “The Budget Challenge,” a sharp series of PowerPoint slides that not only illustrated these issues but brought clarity to the harsh and sometimes confusing effect of the tax cap legislation on the school budget. “This is a difficult time for school district to maintain educational programs while balancing increasing contractual obligations,” said Finello.

Following the presentation, members of the community, including students, lined up to ask questions and make their voices heard. Community residents offered their thoughts and priorities related to the music program, athletics and special education, among other program areas.

A recent East Islip High School alumnus and several current students in this year’s graduating class related their positive experiences in the district’s school system and the beneficial effects of extracurricular activities such as music, athletics and clubs. One who spoke was senior Raymond O’Connor, current president of the Honors Choir, vice-president of the Tri-M Music Honor Society and AP Scholar with Distinction. Ranking number three in his class, O’Connor exemplified the value of extracurricular programs, having served both as captain of the cross-country team and lead actor in the school musical. “When I grow up and come back here to raise a family, I will be at meetings like this,” he said. Fellow top-10-ranked senior Kayleigh Cook, an All-State musician this year, extolled the virtues of the music program, to which she attributes much of her success.

Tom Barry, president of the East Islip Teachers Association, also spoke about his organization’s recognition of the issues at hand, and willingness to sit down respectfully to find solutions.

You can view the full presentation by clicking on the link. It includes information on upcoming budget meetings, in which residents will be asked to further share their concerns about budget development for the 2012-2013 school year.