This school year was the first in which the Shoreham-Wading River school district picked up most of the tab for its high school’s senior trip to Disney World, so one might assume the district was flush with cash. In 2015-16, the district kicked in $9,270, and each of 73 students added $930. In 2016-17, the district ponied up $153,851, and 181 students paid $200 each.
So just how much were the district’s coffers overflowing? Not at all. For 2016-17, the property tax levy increased 5.24 percent. And the proposed 2017-18 school budget to be voted on in May would hike taxes another 3.95 percent. Both budgets are within the state’s property-tax cap, thanks to exemptions. The upshot is that in two years, the average homeowner’s school taxes will have risen by $800 a year, to more than $9,200.
Departing Superintendent Neil Lederer, who retired from the Lindenhurst school district in 2009 and has been an interim leader of several districts since, says he believed the district had to pay the money because students visited Epcot, which can be educational. It is a baffling explanation from an administrator with Lederer’s experience. He now says he was wrong, and the situation has taxpayers fuming.
It makes sense for districts to pay for modestly priced field trips with educational value. And it’s good policy to plan trips that all student can attend, regardless of the families’ budgets. But it’s hard to imagine traveling farther to learn less at such a high cost than senioritis-inflicted students did in jetting to Orlando theme parks in March.
Next year’s budget calls for the district to kick in $40,000 for the trip, a plan the board might want to rethink as pitchforks are sharpened.
— The editorial board