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Herald Schools

East Rockaway school officials discuss 2020-21 budget

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The East Rockaway Board of Education updated the community on discussions regarding the district’s 2020-21 budget at its Feb. 11 meeting.

President Keith Gamache said that the consumer price index is set at 1.81 percent, and that the district’s preliminary tax levy increase is estimated at 2.26 percent, which would provide the district with $693,279. The tax levy is the total amount of money raised by school property taxes and collected from homeowners.

At a work session on Feb. 4, Jacqueline Scrio, the district’s assistant superintendent for finance and operations, said that Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget proposal and individual district state aid figures were released, noting a $240,619 increase in state aid for 2020-21. Scrio said that the district also should be entitled to extra funding based on the Foundation Aid formula of 2007, which was developed to provide more aid to districts with higher poverty rates and lower income rates. The formula has not been fully implemented, however, and could cause East Rockaway a loss of $842,862.

Scrio added that transportation expenditures across the state have skyrocketed because of a shortage of drivers, so the burden has become an issue for school districts. Based on the 1.81 percent CPI, East Rockaway could see a $142,681 decrease in transportation aid, she noted.

Scrio also outlined capital projects that are proposed for the 2020-21 school year, including painting the auditorium ceiling and large gym at the high school; classroom shade replacements and the installation of floors and drains in the boys’ and girls’ bathrooms at Centre Avenue Elementary School; and the replacement of electronic signs at Rhame and Centre avenue schools.

Proposed district wide security enhancements for 2020-21 include a new visitor management system; upgrading cables for high definition cameras; new security film for common areas; and classroom doors and LED lighting. At the high school, door ajar alarms will also be installed.

At the Feb. 11 board meeting, Gamache explained that the district was able to use grants and reimbursements to secure $60,000 worth of technology for $9,900, and planned to get rid of aging equipment.

“As part of our ongoing effort to reduce our reliance on reserve funds to pay for technology that is now part of our regular instructional program, we will also be replacing 70 computer workstations at Centre and Rhame avenue schools, that will be 7-years-old at the end of this school year,” he said.

Scrio said during her presentation that the district has allocated $82,500 for the 2020-21 budget to address technology projects at no additional cost to taxpayers. The plans also include the replacement of about 300 chromebooks that have reached the end of their life cycle.

Scrio will host her next budget presentation work session at East Rockaway Junior-Senior High School on March 10 at 6:30 p.m., which will include an expenditure review and the final decision on reserve propositions.