Elwood Superintendent Peter Scordo at the school board's budget meeting...

Elwood Superintendent Peter Scordo at the school board's budget meeting at Elwood Middle School on March 19, 2015. Credit: Johnny Milano

The Elwood Board of Education unanimously adopted a $59.5 million budget Thursday night, putting the district's tax levy equal to its limit under the state-imposed tax cap.

The board approval of the proposed budget, with a 2.09 percent tax increase, was significant because Elwood was the only one of Long Island's 124 districts that notified the state comptroller's office this year that it may have to bust its cap.

"I'm very happy," Elwood Superintendent Peter Scordo said after the meeting, noting how lawmakers helped restore state funding. "I'm just feeling great for my kids."

The district is receiving $12.9 million in state aid -- $403,318 more than it had projected based on limited information provided earlier by the state.

The budget also will restore the district's full-day kindergarten program. The district had full-day kindergarten in the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years, but converted back to half-day kindergarten because of budget restraints in 2011-12, Scordo said.

"The only reason why we went from a full-day program to a half-day program was a financial issue as a result of the budget crunch that occurred in that particular year," he said.

How much state aid Elwood receives will depend on enrollment, but Assistant Superintendent for Business Keri Loughlin said the district anticipates roughly $500,000 for kindergarten if current projections of about 140 students are on target. Elwood currently has 127 enrolled in half-day.

The district's spending will increase by $849,792, or 1.45 percent compared with the 2014-15 budget. The 2.09 percent tax levy will provide $43.6 million of the budget next year.

In September, Scordo told the school board that the district had depleted most of its cash reserves to hold off higher tax increases. At the time, he raised the possibility of a 6.75 percent tax-cap increase.

"In September, we never would have imagined we would be in this place," Trustee Julia Fried said.

"We were kind of looking down the barrel of a gun," she said,

Like all New York school districts, Elwood's ability to plan its 2015-16 budget on its regular timeline was constrained. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo didn't provide districts with projected state aid numbers during budget negotiations with the legislature as he pushed major education reforms.

Ultimately, the state budget passed with a statewide $1.6 billion increase in school aid in a deal that also gives some authority on the teacher evaluation process to the state Board of Regents and the state Education Department.

Elwood, a largely residential, single-family-home community with a population of about 11,000, has struggled to generate tax revenue.

The budget hearing is May 7, and the vote will be May 19.

Latest videos