The Herricks Board of Education held a session last Thursday on the proposed $125.31 million budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year, a 1.99 percent increase from the current year.
The proposal, which was unchanged from the initial draft, calls for a 0.50 percent increase in the tax levy, which the district said fell below the state tax levy cap of 1.61 percent.
Over the last seven years, the district’s average tax levy increase has been 1.54 percent.
“We are very happy to be in that place,” Lisa Rutoske, the assistant superintendent for business, said in February. “That’s taken a lot of work and a lot of advocacy efforts on behalf of our community, our parents, our board, and our administration over the last few years.”
A first draft of the proposed budget was presented by Rutoske and Superintendent Fino Celano at a Board of Education meeting on Feb 17. Further discussion is expected to take place at budget meetings on March 24 and April 7. The budget adopted by the board will include feedback from the community and will be presented for voter approval on Tuesday, May 17.
The district expects an increase in total state aid of $2.2 million from 2021-22, a 15% increase from the legislative budget approved last March. Until final approvals of the budget, state aid may change, the district said.
According to the proposed budget, the majority of the 2022-23 school year’s funding will be used for the students’ day-to-day experiences, with 73 percent of the budget allotted for programming. Capital spending accounts for 13 percent of the budget, and administration makes up 11 percent of the budget.
The proposed budget would preserve and support all of Herricks’ academic programs, as well as provide funding for extracurricular programs, music, arts and athletics.
Some highlights include funding for social-emotional learning programs, instructional technology improvement and updated facilities.
The district plans to fund a partnership with Northwell Health for crisis intervention and fund additional social worker staffing at the middle school.
Regarding facilities, the proposal includes bathroom renovations at the Searingtown and Center Street schools, art room renovations at Searingtown and the high school, and technology classroom upgrades at the middle school.
The district also plans to complete an initiative to provide each student with a Chromebook, which has been at the center of its technology goals.
Also included in Thursday’s session were “points of pride” in the district, which includes the fact that Herricks had a 99 percent graduation rate last year, nine finalists in the 2022 National Merit Scholarship competition and was ranked by U.S. News and World Report in the top 2% of high schools in the U.S., among other things.
The budget proposal remains a first draft and Celano keeps encouraging community members to ask questions and offer suggestions. The school budget vote will take place at the Community Center gymnasium on May 17 from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.