‘Get Out the Vote!’

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School District Election and Budget Vote – May 18

The Board of Education is urging all Floral Park-Bellerose School District community members to go to the polls on Tuesday, May 18. As we plan for the 2010-11 school year, it is also time to join in celebrating our students’ impressive achievements over the past year. In 2008-09, FPBSD student proficiency levels ranged from 92 percent to 99 percent on the NYS assessments, with our graduating sixth grade class ranking 5th out of 56 Nassau County school districts on the NYS English Language Arts assessment.  We are all so proud!

Now, as the 2010-11 school year approaches, we all face serious challenges during these difficult economic times. Among those that FPBSD is facing are: (1) A $440,000 projected loss in state aid. (2) Drastic reductions in NYS High Tax Aid wherein, over the past four years, the Floral Park-Bellerose School District is receiving allocations that are significantly less ($1 million dollars less!) than the High Tax Aid allocated to neighboring school districts.  Our NYS Legislators have been notified of this growing problem and are working to devise a remedy. (3) Serious cuts in programs and staffing to reduce expenditures, while keeping in mind that FPBSD has ranked the lowest in per pupil expenditure in Nassau County (56th out of 56 school districts) for the past decade.

The 2010-11 proposed budget of $26,923,636 represents a +2.0 percent increase over the current year’s budget, one that is the lowest increase in more than a decade and is below both the Nassau County and Long Island average increases. The proposed budget maintains many key initiatives that have great value for our students including: (1) Strong literacy instruction to ensure high student achievement, particularly in the all-important areas of reading and writing; (2) Academic enrichment and support enhanced by the use of technology including the ongoing installation of SMARTBoards and replacement of 11-year old desktop computers used by students in the primary grades; (3) Ongoing replacement of instructional equipment, especially our aging musical instruments to continue the tradition of fabulous Winter and Spring Concert and Memorial Day parade performances; (4) Continuation of our extracurricular activities such as Drama Club, and self-sustaining School Life Plus (after school child care) and Saturday Enrichment programs; (5) School maintenance/repair and green cleaning programs to ensure that the excellent, safe condition of our facilities will be sustained.

In order to hold the 2010-11 proposed budget increase at the +2.0 percent level, the Board of Education has made a number of cuts in critical areas: capital projects reductions -$740,000; mini-bus replacements  -$115,000; technology and transportation staffing -$57,000; Social Studies program adoptions -$50,000; security camera purchases -$50,000; summer school reading and mathematics program reductions -$36,000; and the possibility of additional staffing cuts. Even with these major cuts, the tax levy increase is projected at +5.3 percent to offset state aid and other revenue losses.

In the event that voters fail to pass the budget (as was the case in 2004-05), a contingency budget will mean more than $1,291,000 in additional cuts and no state-aidable capital projects; no new equipment or technology purchases; NYS-mandated charges for the use of school facilities and fields by community organizations; the elimination of programs such as Pre-Kindergarten, School Life Plus, Saturday Enrichment, Summer Music and others; staffing cuts; and class size increases.

For more information about the School District Budget, you are invited to visit www.floralpark. k12.ny.us and click on the “Budget News” link.  User-friendly absentee ballot instructions are also featured on the site.

From 2007 to 2009, only 9 percent of the registered voters of Floral Park and Bellerose participated in the School District Election and Budget Vote. As members of our school community, your participation on May 18 is vital to the success of our students and schools. Please bring your families and friends to the polls, and “Get Out The Vote” on May 18.

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