Longwood Junior High School, part of the Longwood Central School...

Longwood Junior High School, part of the Longwood Central School District, is located at 198 Longwood Rd. in Middle Island. (Feb. 11, 2012) Credit: Carl Corry

The Longwood Central Schools board has agreed to a new budget that raises taxes and keeps school programs intact.

The board unanimously adopted a 2012-13 budget of $212.3 million on April 19, including a 3.51 percent tax levy increase. That translates to an increase of about $199 per average household assessed at $2,565, district officials said.

Because of exemptions and deductions, the tax levy increase falls below the state's 2 percent tax cap. "There were some exclusions and other exemptions . . . [used] to calculate the tax levy," Superintendent Allan Gerstenlauer said.

The new budget eliminates 25 teaching positions and one administrative post; 11 retiring or departing civil service positions will not be refilled.

The district will maintain its academic, extracurricular and athletic programs, and restore funding for elementary drama clubs.

"The most difficult challenge in preparing our budgets continues to be the loss of millions of dollars in state aid to the district over the last four years," school board president Michael Loguercio said in a news release. "We are doing our best to balance the needs of the students against what our community can afford. We feel this budget achieves this budget."

Gerstenlauer acknowledged that the new state tax cap has made this year's budget difficult to prepare and to explain.

"On March 1st, districts had to submit the calculations for their tax levy limit to the state," he said. "We haven't heard back, so our assumptions are that our calculations are correct.

"We've been working for weeks trying to get this into plain English," he added.

The public hearing on the budget will be held May 3 at 7 p.m. at Longwood High School in Middle Island, and the budget vote and school board election are scheduled for May 15.

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