The North Babylon school board has approved for next year a $112 million budget proposal, which includes a 3.4 percent tax hike that administrators said was necessary to keep class sizes manageable and meet state-imposed curriculum requirements.
The tax increase will need the approval of 60 percent of voters because it exceeds the district's 2.65 percent tax levy cap. Voting is May 21.
The proposed budget, approved Thursday, would allow the schools to hire four elementary school teachers, three specialists for math, science and English as a Second Language, as well as pay for school security and technology upgrades.
The district could afford little of that under a budget that abided by the state-mandated tax cap, Superintendent Patricia Godek told residents in the auditorium at Robert Moses Middle School. "We need to concentrate on building for the future," she said. "North Babylon can't afford a tax levy cap."
The 7-0 vote by the board came as the district faced a $3.6 million increase from last year in contractually mandated retirement expenses, administrators said.
From 2009 to 2012, administrators said, the district eliminated 68 instructional positions. During that time, class sizes grew to maximum allowable levels, senior administrative positions were cut and sports teams were combined.
Last year, the district held the line on reductions when voters approved a budget that exceeded the tax cap.
State aid next year will be $40.7 million. Reserves and other revenue will provide $11 million. Taxpayers would provide the largest chunk of revenue, about $60.3 million.
The tax rate under the proposed budget is $184.20 per $100 of assessed value, up $6.88 from the current year.