Elmont district trims proposed school budget

Elmont Memorial High School is located at 555

Elmont Memorial High School is located at 555 Ridge Road in Elmont. (May 31, 2012) Photo Credit: Amy Onorato

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Days after announcing plans to send the same failed budget back to voters, Elmont's school board decided Saturday instead to scale down the proposal, hoping for voter approval.

The seven-member school board met in executive session Saturday and then held a brief public meeting, where it voted unanimously to send to voters a proposed budget of $77.6 million, about $1 million less than the one rejected last month.

"We heard what the community had to say about the original budget proposal," school board president Michael A. Jaime said Saturday at the Elmont Road School. "In consideration to what we heard, preserving the 10-month school period was important to us. We thought this decision was fair."

The new proposal has a 4.9 percent tax increase, about 2 percentage points lower. It also cut $120,000 across the entire budget, plus $500,000 from capital improvement projects, and saves $350,000 by eliminating summer programs.

"I think it is a win-win," said Derek Lawrence, 47, of Elmont, vice president of a local youth sports club and father of an eighth-grader, when reached later by phone. "It's a compromise, but it is not a total elimination of school programs and teachers. I think it was a good, sound business decision."

The midsized elementary district on the Nassau-Queens border is one of the seven Long Island districts that failed to override the state's new tax-cap limit in the May 15 budget vote. The next week, district officials announced plans to ask voters to reconsider the same budget. It must get a 60 percent supermajority vote of approval on June 19 to override its 1.89 percent tax-cap limit.

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"It is better than what they had proposed, but I don't know if people are going to vote for it," said Pat Nicolosi, vice president of the Elmont library board.

Officials have scheduled a public forum on June 12 at 7:30 p.m. in the Dutch Broadway Elementary School.

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