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Letter: School districts and budget surpluses

An empty classroom at the start of a

An empty classroom at the start of a three day weekend at William Floyd High School in Mastic Beach. (Nov. 10, 2011) Photo Credit: Daniel Brennan

"School audit widens" [News, Aug. 18] reported that the Sayville district overpaid for staff cellphones. But why is the district paying for staff cellphones?

The problem is it is against a district's religion to ever cut, and a commandment to always increase, the budget. When ways to cut expenses arise -- for example, renegotiating insurance contracts -- districts find ways to spend/reserve money to hide from taxpayers that the budget is too large and could/should be cut.

Superintendents complain they need to overestimate expenses due to "unpredictability." Districts can hold a reserve of up to 4 percent of the budget, more than enough to cover unpredictability. Yet districts build up large surpluses on top of the allowed reserves. Superintendents also complain about the tax cap. The cap is not an issue because officials can exceed the cap if they can convince the community that it is necessary. The problem is that they can't make the case.

Armand J. D'Accordo, Northport

Editor's note: The writer is an accountant.


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