These fourth graders at Washington Primary School enjoy playing basketball in the gymnasium.

District Residents Study Proposed School Budget

These fourth graders at Washington Primary School enjoy playing basketball in the gymnasium.

May 4, 2018

Huntington School District residents are preparing to go to the polls on Tuesday, May 15 to vote on a spending plan that will fund school operations during the 2018/19 academic year.

Residents will also cast ballots on two separate capital reserve fund propositions, including one to authorize the expenditure of up to $7.151 million for various projects and another to establish a new fund to cover costs associated with future work on the high school’s turf athletic field complex. Passage of either of the capital reserve fund propositions will have no effect on the tax rate.

By utilizing capital reserve funds to cover costs associated with renovation and repair projects, the district has avoided having to borrow tens of millions of dollars over the years and pay related interest expenses. The district’s current debt is less than $2 million, one of the lowest such levels on Long Island. It’s on a downward trajectory toward being completely wiped out within a decade.

Increases to several non-discretionary budget areas have somewhat complicated this year’s budget development process. “Despite such challenges, Superintendent James W. Polansky, his administrative team and staff have worked diligently to realize cost efficiencies and increase use of alternative revenue sources such that the district’s instructional program and student opportunities will remain as robust as ever,” Huntington School Board President Thomas DiGiacomo said. 

A copy of the proposed budget, a 12-page budget brochure and individual presentations focusing on different areas of the spending plan are available for viewing on demand on the district website at www.joshuacarnes.info.

The 2018/19 budget brochure has been sent to every mailing address in the district. Archived line-by-line budgets dating to 2000/01 are also available on the district website.

The proposed budget totals $129,812,991, an increase of 2.85 percent over the current year’s spending plan. If approved by residents, it would raise the tax levy by 2.68 percent, which is below the limit of 3.14 percent established by state law.

It is estimated that the tax rate will go from $232.48 to $238.61 per $100 of assessed valuation, an increase of 2.68 percent. Should the district’s total assessed valuation come in higher than anticipated in the spending plan, trustees will be in a position to lower the actual increase when the tax rate is set early next fall.

“The Huntington School District continues to receive accolades locally, regionally and nationally,” Mr. DiGiacomo said. “The district was, once again, ranked near the top of the Washington Post’s “Americas Most Challenging High Schools” list. Additionally, the district and Huntington High School were identified as among the top in New York State by niche.com.”

The proposed budget maintains class sizes at all grade levels that are below district guidelines. District executives began preparing the 2018/19 budget last fall. Trustees reviewed the plan during a series of public meetings over the past two months. Several revised drafts of the plan were presented before it was adopted by trustees without dissent. Residents will have the final say on Monday, May 15.

Budget highlights include:

• Provides for an extensive line-up of Regents, Honors and Advanced Placement courses in every academic area.
• Allocates $205,900 for new textbooks, $164,935 for new workbooks, $60,950 for new library resources, $93,000 for new computer software and $219,700 for new instructional equipment, including computers and tablet devices.
• Continues the district’s 1:1 computing device initiative.
• Funds 64 athletic teams for high school and middle school students, 100 coaching positions and a full-time athletic trainer.
• Provides a complete program of adult-supervised, after-school extracurricular activities, including dozens of clubs for students.
• Funds comprehensive art, music and physical education opportunities, including band, orchestra, choral groups, marching band, music ensembles and specialized art courses.
• Funds student drama club productions, newspapers, concerts, science fairs and the district art show.
• Maintains the district’s K-5 dual language program and provides the world language FLEX program to fifth and sixth graders.
• Includes a comprehensive special education program for students with disabilities and support services for all students.
• Continues the SEARCH and Math Olympiad programs for academically talented fifth and sixth graders.
• Augments the district’s commitment to the high school science research program and robotics programs.
• Furthers STEM/computer science initiatives throughout the district.
• Expands secondary grade level elective course choices.
• Upgrades instructional technologies and infrastructure.
• Funds a redesigned middle school level math program.

Huntington School Board members will hold a public budget hearing on the 2018/19 plan on Monday, May 7 at 7:30 p.m. in the Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School auditorium.

Residents with questions on the proposed budget can contact Mr. Polansky at [email protected].

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