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Letter: Heartland may overburden schools

People attend a meeting of the Town of

People attend a meeting of the Town of Islip Zoning Board regarding the proposed Heartland development project on the evening of April 16, 2015. Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

I read with interest Newsday's editorial supporting the Heartland Town Square project ["After its diligent review, Islip should OK Heartland," July 6]. I'm not conceptually opposed to the project, which I believe has potential merit.

However, there is one statement in Newsday's editorial that I'm compelled to correct: "the tens of millions of tax dollars to benefit Brentwood's schools, well more than the district would need to educate the estimated additional 1,800 students." You surmised that the school district can expect a surplus once the project is built out, and the 9,000 new residences are occupied. That is simply not accurate.

In light of the tax breaks for this project, the tax cap law on increases in property tax levies and the perennial uncertainty surrounding the availability of state aid, it will be a major challenge for the school district just to obtain the additional funds needed to educate the children of Heartland. Due to increases in our student population in recent years, our school buildings are near or at capacity, and the district's taxpayers are severely burdened by this growing enrollment.

Clearly, we have work to do with the state, county, town and developer to ensure that funding is available for the district's facilities, staffing and programs that will inevitably be required to accommodate 1,800 students. We need to be assured that despite the arcane system by which tax levies are apportioned, current homeowners of our district are not unfairly burdened by additional expense.

We are confident that if the various branches of government work cooperatively, we will be able to meet the daunting challenges. But first, we need to acknowledge that the challenges exist.

Levi H. McIntyre, Brentwood

Editor's note: The writer is the superintendent of Brentwood schools.