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Final Workshop Puts Tax Levy at 2.69 Percent

Would you support a higher levy? Answer in our poll.

The Kings Park School District held its final open budget workshop Saturday morning, which outlined an $80,537,086 budget with a tax levy increase of 2.69 percent and a 1.8 percent increase over last year’s budget.

Cuts to the budget included the elimination of 10.5 teaching positions, four due to enrollment decreases and 6.5 due budget cuts.

Non-teaching positions to be cut include the loss of five aides due to decreasing enrollment. Four bus drivers, three whom are retiring, will be eliminated due to the consolidation of bus routes. Other non-teaching reductions lost due to budget cuts include a clerk typist who is retiring and will not be replaced, a mechanic, a maintenance position, two custodians and five aides.

Also included in the draft budget is the start of a phasing out of the French program, which will not be offered in grade seven for the next school year.

District Superintendent, Susan Agruso, said the district is still considering raising the tax levy to the cap of 2.9 percent, which would add an additional $125,000 to the budget.

Still of concern and not yet resolved is the increased class size for grade six. Agruso said she is waiting on updated number on state aid and anticipates the district will receive additional money.

“We are expecting some additional state aid, which would be used to restore a sixth grade teaching position,” said Agruso.

Marc Goldstein March 27, 2012 at 11:42 AM
My question is why can't the board put both proposals up during the election? Why is it as a taxpayer I get only one choice as directed by them. If I as a taxpayer can rally enough votes to get my choice passed isn't that the democratic way?
Joseph Piacentino, Jr. March 27, 2012 at 12:01 PM
Or, why can't the budget vote be offered as a list of line items? Then we can each vote on the specific areas of the budget that we feel strongly about. This would also serve to let the school board know which areas are of most importance to the community for future budgets.
Concerned Citizen March 27, 2012 at 12:46 PM
Good question... The answer is that New York education law says you cannot. The local Board can only proopse one budget, and then resubmit a 2nd time if the budget fails. Two failed budgets will mean NO tax levy increase allowed from one year to the next... However, all mandates and contractual obligations stay in force.
Concerned Citizen March 27, 2012 at 12:52 PM
This is also prohibitied by law at this time; however, there are rumblings in Albany to allow line item resolutions - we'll see what happens. Nevertheless, be careful what you wish for. While at first blush this may seem to be a good idea... When every line item becomes a political contest, we will be headed down an ugly road... sports people, fighting with cultural arts... Special Ed spending - while there are mandates, there is some options that are local and based on how best to serve children. Will we start to vote on class size (hence how many teachers should be excessed)... The Taylor law will NOT allow the constiuency to vote on labor contracts... Bottom line is this well intended idea could have awful consequences.
Dee Reichert March 27, 2012 at 03:59 PM
my concern is the elimination of a mechanic. In my opinion 2 mechanics cannot carry the load of work that is required of them . With maintaining all the buses, the districts grounds trucks, security cars, lawn mowers, snow blowers and what ever other mechanical needs come up, how can you expect 2 mechanics to do all this work. Not to mention that on numerous occasions they are also driving school buses when needed.(which occurs more often than not) I can see this becoming a real issue in the nearby future, possibly even a safety issue. D.O.T. demands certain amount of work on a routine basis on the buses, daily maintenance is also high in demand. Pulling all this off will be short of a miracle with 2 mechanics. Big mistake find the extra $$ needed to keep the 3rd mechanic for the safety of the children on the buses and to not put this added extra pressure on an already demanding job for the mechanics. Somethings you just can't do without!!
phicks March 27, 2012 at 04:01 PM
10.5 teachers being cut, with 4 of them due to decreased enrollment...why aren't there any administrators being cut? With a smaller student base and faculty do we really need all this administration?
Marc Goldstein March 27, 2012 at 04:27 PM
Concerned Citizen, Are you a lawyer or an administrator that you should know the laws of New York State? Secondly the one thing I despise about this or any other blog is the fact that people hide behind pseudonyms. People should be forced to use their correct name and stand up for what they say and if they can't do that then they shouldn't be allowed to comment.
kptree March 27, 2012 at 05:41 PM
@Marc Goldstein, there is an easy way to avoid anonymous commenters- just don't reply to them. If fact, don't reply to me- I post anonymously because my identity isn't important- I happen to think that unfettered and civil public discourse is and what drives a lively blog. Think of all of the things in American Democratic society that benefit from anonymity- the main example being the right to a private decision when voting. Your response to Concerned Citizen was unwarranted- he/she was not 1. maligning you, 2. belittling your response 3. dismissing your question. That commenter was only trying to respond to your question. You do not have to be an administrator or lawyer to know the laws of New York State- what a terrible thought that understanding laws should not be accessible to the public. As a matter of fact you can find the answers to your questions here:http://www.p12.nysed.gov/mgtserv/budgeting/handbook/legalaspects.html The fact of the matter is that school boards and districts legally have a responsibility to prepare A budget, not budgets. There is no law that says you cannot propose more than one budget but past practice and the guidelines make school district only responsible to prepare one single budget. Again, feel no need to respond to my anonymous comments- for me, it's enough that as an American citizen I can decide to register with my name or without. Have a good day.
Jm March 27, 2012 at 07:47 PM
Heaven forbid an administration job be eliminated....and if by some miracle one does retire you can bet your bottom dollar that spot will be filled...no chance they will allow that spot to go vacant and possibly permanently eliminated
KingsParkKid March 27, 2012 at 07:48 PM
another admin was just hired. i don't get it.
Jm March 27, 2012 at 09:06 PM
Well that's all you need to know about the district...like phicks said ...if enrollment is down why do we need another overpaid administrator....well keep cutting those teachers and then when there are 35-40 kids in a class like the city we can see the crocodile tears
Brian Johnston March 27, 2012 at 09:38 PM
It must be realized that the administrators in our district have many more responsibilities than in most districts. The amount of administrators currently employed is necessary to keep the district running on the meager resources supplied by budget they operate on... However, teachers are by far the most important part of the educational process and to the development of students and the elimination of teaching positions is dangerous.... Long story short... Teahing staff and administrative cuts simply can't be an option.... Its a miracle that our students have performed as well as they have with the given resources and ever increasing class sizes... VOTE YES TO THE BUDGET and perhaps even consider supporting an even higher tax levy to keep kings park students some of the best in the state thereby giving them the opportunity of success in the future... Education must be seen for what it is, an investment for the future in not only students but also the town of kings park.
Brian Johnston March 27, 2012 at 09:39 PM
Our great town is at risk because our schools are slipping which will no doubt effect property values in the town and cause a downward spiral in the general quality of life in the town that we all love. Addressing this problem can also be solved not just by raising the school budget but by promoting businesses in the area and revitalizing the downtown area. Taxes payed by these businesses will lessen the burden on homeowners exponentially. Let's not forget that we have acres on acres of waterfront property that is now a decrepit embarrassment. Perhaps we should consider centering local businesses on Kings Park Blvd. post-demolition. While change is clearly not usually embraced by our town we must accept realities for what they are. 
new guy March 27, 2012 at 10:16 PM
Brian this land you speak of is owned by the state. I don't think the state cares at all about our needs as a town. I'd loved to see it developed. I don't think my kids...kids will see that though.
Brian Johnston March 27, 2012 at 10:29 PM
we know that the state wants to get rid of the property or at least some of it...its expensive to maintain...the town needs to take the initiative to design a proactive but realistic proposal that the state (and citizens) can consider. While I agree that it isn't likely, it is always a possibility and in times like these complaining about the budget and voting no won't help anybody. In fact it will do quite the opposite.
KingsParkKid March 27, 2012 at 10:43 PM
I agree with Brian J., however, the town makes it very difficult to make changes to improve property. These Admins and Supervisors are not making the correct decisions as far as I am concerned. Ask any KPSCD insider and they can tell you, by experience, more appropriate ways to 'save money' and have things run more smooth. Also, groups such as the PFA and the Kings Park Education Foundation spend a lot of time trying to raise money and I think they should be promoted more. Take advantage of the wonderful events these groups are promoting!!! Too bad more people don't attend BOE meetings and workshops to educate themselves on what is going on in our district, they are too quick to vote NO and think that is the answer..
Linda Henninger March 27, 2012 at 11:16 PM
The Nissequogue River State Park equals big money for the Kings Park School District. In 2011, the State of New York paid $1,972,706 in taxes to the Kings Park School District based on the entire Nissequogue River State Park. The State paid, in total, $7,309,890 taxes to the school - based on all State owned property in Kings Park. Under the ownership of any other entity - county, town, or private - no reasonable development of this property could ever come close to this windfall.
KPLifer March 28, 2012 at 04:55 PM
he folks in KP would only vote to have sports and low paid unqualified teachers that all grew up in Kings Park. They would vote out the good academnic programs that make our community valuable. Do any of the commenters run a $100,000,000 organization? We have a very low tax rate compared to the rest of Long Island.
KP LIslander March 30, 2012 at 08:51 PM
If cost cutting was the de rigour, then why can't the BOE feel compelled to focus on cutting any of the higher paying teachers who are under-performing instead of lower paying positions? Just because it is easier to do so? And please don't even insult my intelligence by trying to justify not doing so all because of tenure or unions. After all, where are the unions when, as inferred, they aren't even acting in the best interests of teachers by not agreeing to a contract. Give backs, let's talk about that- There are many taxpayers (who BTW subsidize everyone working in the school system that will have nice pensions) that work in the private industry & don't even have pensions at all, or if they do, have been frozen, or are being frozen & no longer continued to accrue. And please don't try to espouse about lower salaries compared to the private sector as this isn't as true as it used to be. Many teachers, plus of course admins, are getting a decent salary for the # of years experience in the education field compared to the same # of years experience one has in the private sector. I rec'd a bachelors & then Masters & work in the electronics industry for 30 years now & am not even breaking $100K, & pay 20% of health insurance & not getting any raise this year at all (not even COLI) & don't have the kind of pension that teachers & admins are getting. This is not uncommon. Yet @seethroughny dot com, salaries for teachers w/approx 15-17 years are already making over $100K!
KP LIslander March 31, 2012 at 05:21 PM
First off, to be clear-I am not "mad" about teacher's salaries - they should rightfully get salaries that are commensurate with their level of education & years experience. That is NOT what is at issue. It is a matter of when those in the school system try to make a case about give backs w/o regard or consideration for what those that are paying their salaries have already been cutting back & have been enduring, as if it is somehow OK to not factor in such valid & legitimate considerations. As far as salaries themselves go, it is NOT like you being mad at an admin. Poor analogy. I am not "mad" at my manager or his manager. Nor do I begrudge someone who works hard & has achieved a level of success over many years whose position warrants a certain salary level, as long as it is justified (& not excessive like some school admins are) for the responsibilities of that position. By the way, since you wish to focus on comparing salaries, making 68K after only 8 years, with the type of pension that one gets in the school system is NOT unreasonable. It took me approx 20 years to get to that level. And I guess it's just OK to divert attention away from the issue of cost-cutting as it pertains to under-performers & of what the BOE has the ability to do, or what they choose to do or not do, and hold them accountable & instead try to shift the focus to place it onto parents & make generalizations. Talk about garbage - I'm glad you're not teaching in our school district.
KP LIslander March 31, 2012 at 05:26 PM
I'm not going to make broad generalizations about what other parents actually do for/with their kids vs what those that don't but should be doing, nor should teachers think that is OK to do so, but I do know that my spouse & myself, after both of us working 9-10 hr days (to be able to continue to afford to pay the school taxes that we do), DO wind up having to effectively RE-TEACH material on a regular basis which was covered during each day at such a fast pace that the kids can't absorb everything adequately & effectively-all because teachers hands are tied by what is mandated & passed down from state level to schools. And yet there are those in the school system that still somehow choose to mistakenly think that there is nothing wrong with placing unreasonable expectations that parents should be RE-TEACHING, when in fact it is inappropriate to have such expectations to begin with, especially when it's the parents that are working hard to pay the taxes that they do in order to put their kids in supposedly good school systems. Talk about temerity! ASSISTING/AIDING/HELPING one's child for THEM to do their homework is one thing & should & ought to be done, however, having no option but to explain material to such level of detail for the kids to truly absorb & understand it (i.e. re-teaching it) on a nightly basis, is NOT what should be considered the NORM or OK. This just highlights the ineffective methodology that is implemented the attitudes of many in the school system.
KP LIslander March 31, 2012 at 10:17 PM
What happened to Ryan and his comments that I had been replying to?
Elizabeth April 04, 2012 at 06:59 PM
Mechanics jobs should be outsourced. These jobs have zero to do with the district's mission. Educating children.

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