Floral Park-Bellerose board adopts $39M school budget

Floral Park-Bellerose board adopts $39M school budget
The Floral Park-Bellerose Board of Education adopted a tentative 2024-2025 budget Thursday night.(Photo courtesy of Google Maps)

Floral Park-Bellerose School District board members adopted a proposed 2024-2025 budget of $39,539,684, which is up 1.72% or $666,887 from the 2023-2024 budget of $38,872,797, Thursday night.

The proposed tax levy increase is $729,848, or 2.73%, which is under the state tax cap. This tax levy increase would cost taxpaying residents approximately $205 extra per calendar year, or $17 extra per month, Assistant Superintendent for Business Linda Macias said.

The adopted budget is the fifth iteration of a 2024-2025 budget and it is a balanced one, meaning the expenditure costs and revenue are equal.

“I don’t know that a lot of folks realize how much work and how much effort went into getting this budget to be balanced,” Trustee Michael Culotta said.

A large majority of expenditure costs in the district are allocated toward employees, with 50% of expenditures going toward employee salaries and 27% of expenditures funneling into employee benefits.

The district is expecting an increase in state aid. The adopted 2024-2025 budget estimates $9,804,446 in state aid, which is a 4.04%, or $396,274 increase, from the $9,408,172 in state aid included in the 2023-2024 budget.

“This year, given the allowable tax levy and the state aid that we anticipate receiving this year, it was a somewhat tight budget process, which made it a little challenging to meet all of our needs and goals,” Superintendent Lisa Ruiz said.

The proposed budget still includes program enhancements, such as the addition of two full-time ICT positions for co-teaching classrooms, the addition of a small special education class for students with autism and additional new reading programs to support students with academic intervention services and students with disabilities.

The tentative budget includes materials and equipment for a new sensory gym at John Lewis Childs School. Some of the funding for this project will come from a grant that the district was awarded last year.

District employees said they are listening to parent concerns and are bringing back the gifted and talented program as a result. The program will serve grades 3 through 6 and pull children out from class twice weekly for a total of 4 ½ hours per week.

The new gifted program will encourage students’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills. The district will start a new Grade 2 assessment in 2025 to identify students fit for the gifted program.

Costs for the gifted program are included in the proposed budget, as well costs related to a new research-based math curriculum.

The budget vote will include a capital reserve proposition that must be approved by voters. The district is seeking to use $2,304,263 of the capital reserve funds for portions of the boiler conversion project, HVAC replacement district-wide, security improvements, interior renovations and road repaving to occur during the 2024-2025 school year. These projects are part of the district’s five-year capital improvement plan.

“We have a budget in front of us that I think supports our programs and staff that we currently have and we are able to very creatively enrich the programs to continue providing excellent educational services to our community,” Macias said.

District residents are set to vote on the tentative budget May 21.

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