The East Rockaway Union Free School District approved a budget of $35,601,664 during their monthly meeting on Tuesday night, thanks in part to received by the district earlier this month.
The tax levy comes in at $27,335,613, a 2.26 percent increase from last year.
By eliminating a $35,752 gap in the budget, the aid allowed the board to reinstate some of the programs that were on the chopping block in original budget drafts, according to Superintendent Dr. Roseanne Melucci.
Middle school sports was one of those reinstated programs, much to the satisfaction of many parents who at the March Board of Education meeting.
“Thank you for listening to us and actually hearing us,” one parent told the board.
Other reinstated cuts included a high school occupational education program where students can “chose to pursue trades,” a Centre Avenue Elementary teaching assistant position, and five additional ELA and math assistants, according to Melucci.
However, some programs are still set to be cut from the budget. This includes the providing of late buses, according to Melucci.
Parents of East Rockaway children who attend private schools and rely on district-funded late buses to get home from after-school activities raised concerns about the cut.
“I consider the vote today on this budget an absolute betrayal by the board,” Catholic school parent Robert Drummond said during the privilege of the floor portion of the meeting. “...the budget being put out today puts my children in a situation where, because they run track or get extra help to maintain their academic standing, they have to wait on Jericho Turnpike, take the [public bus] to Lynbrook, get off at the White Castle, and walk to my home.”
The board assured those in support of late busing that the decision was not based on any ill will towards those who chose to send their child to private school.
“I think that there might be a feeling out there that there is an ‘us against you’ mentality and that we are not compromising and understanding,” trustee Patricia Nicoletti said. “That disturbs me because that’s not what this board of education is about....we do hear you and we want you to know that we are here to make decisions for the benefit of every student in East Rockaway, whether they go to public school or private school.
There will be a budget hearing on May 3 at 7:30 p.m.
Earlier in the meeting, the board approved the tenure appointments of four district teachers. Lori DeVarso, James Hickey, Rachele Kempton, and ToniAnn Donald will all be tenured as of Sept. 1.
September will also mark the beginning of a new era at . With Principal William Fortgang set to retire at the end of the school year, interviews for the open position have begun. Candidate recommendations are expected to be made at the May board meeting, according to Melucci.
What are your thoughts on the approved budget? Tell us in the comments.