BAC Delivers Budget Advice to Board of Ed

On Tuesday, March 27, East Islip's Budget Advisory Committee (BAC) presented the Board of Educaton with their budget recommendations for 2012-2013.

Held in the District Office board room, the event began with Superintendent John J. Finello's recap of the budget season so far, from the Jan. 31 Community Budget Forum through the various March meetings and presentations, followed by a brief explanation from Assistant Superintentendent for Business Carl Fraser on new tax cap guidance provided by New York State. Details on that information can be found here.

The floor was then turned over to BAC Co-Chairman Ken Long, who presented a detailed slideshow, "East Islip School District Budget Advisory Committee Recommendations to the Board of Education," clarifying all of their recommended program restorations and budget cuts.

Recognition was paid to the diligent work of the 10-person BAC, rounded out by Elizabeth Attanasio, Jodi Capobianco, Aileen D'Addario, Frank Fritz, Christa Higgins, Diane Kelly, Laura McNulty, Dean Mittleman and Michele Pandolfo, in conjunction with Fraser, who served as district facilitator and co-chairman.

Long explained that the BAC had begun by taking the following as their mission statement: "The priority of the East Islip School District is to provide a high quality education for our youngest community members in a cost-effective manner respectful of the taxpayer. Given the current climate of fiscal challenges we are facing, the focus of the BAC was on maintaining this essential balance."

In their proposal, the BAC suggested that the Board of Education reinstate programs slated to be cut, which would add $3.15 million to the budget with a tax levy impact of 4.84 percent. These restorations would include the athletics program (varsity, JV and middle school), full-day kindergarten, non-mandated music programs, BOCES career and tech education, the nine-period day for both the high school and middle school, among others, and clubs in all six schools (although the latter would be condensed).

The BAC also recommended adopting spending reductions, which would save approximately $298,000, added to $423,000 in bus company savings and $200,000 in projected New York State aid, totaling $921,000 in savings, with a tax levy impact of -1.43 percent. These measures would require adding 3.41 percent to the 3.05 percent tax increase already proposed, for a 6.46 percent tax levy increase. That proposal would require that the community approve the budget with a 60 percent "supermajority" vote.

The next budget meeting, a Board of Education work session to discuss the BAC's recommendations, will take place on April 3 at 7 p.m. in the District Office's first-floor cafeteria. The meeting will be open to questions and comments from the public.

As noted in Finello's recap, this April 3 work session will be followed by a Board of Education monthly meeting on April 19 (sharing the property tax report card and adopting a budget), a Budget Hearing on May 8 to discuss the adopted budget, and the May 15 budget voting (with extended hours from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.).