The Sewanhaka Central High School District saw a 6.86 percent increase in New York State aid after the state legislature enacted its budget last week. Long Island received more than $157 million in aid alone, the most in seven years.
Sewanhaka will receive $29,936,017 in aid, a $1,922,225 increase from 2014-15. Sewanhaka gained an increase of $196,813 in foundation aid, but a $43,158 decrease in the BOCES budget.
“We’ve tried to preserve our academic core,” School Board President Dave Fowler said. “Some of this money can be used to replenish reserves. If we hit a downturn [in the economy] we’re not faced with immediate cuts again.”
New York State announced a budget deal on Monday, March 30, with a school aid increase of nearly $1.6 billion. The state agreed to implement new ethics laws, put teacher evaluations in the control of a state agency and raised teacher tenure eligibility from three to four years.
Cutback restoration, known as the GAP elimination adjustment, was a concern for Sewanhaka in the past, but in the current draft budget, teacher cuts are not expected.
“We had lost overall $6 million from what the numbers were before the recession,” Fowler said. “Now with the GAP elimination money that’s been restored the last two years, we’ve got about 40 percent overall from what we lost over the years,” Fowler said.
The new evaluation plan will be put in by June 30.
“This year, we did not have to discuss potential layoffs,” Fowler said. “That’s good news overall.”
Sewanhaka’s 2015-16 school budget is $177.98 million, a 1.5 percent budget-to-budget increase from 2014-15. The tax levy amounts to $135.91 million, a 1.88 percent uptick.
“Personally, I’d like to see some money going toward some of the staffing cuts, particularly the foreign language area,” Fowler said. “I think we have a need there.”
The proposed budget is a departure from previous ones, which saw teacher reductions and program modifications. Next year, Sewanhaka doesn’t anticipate excessing teachers and all programs are secure, according to the proposed budget.
Nearby Herricks and New Hyde Park-Garden City Park school districts will receive $9,326,356 and $4,509,471, respectively.