Westbury School District voters approve budget
Westbury School District voters approved the $145,295,800 budget with a 1.97 percent tax levy last week, electing incumbent Robin Bolling and former trustee Rodney Caines to the board of education.
The budget passed 861-553. At the middle school, the yes-no votes were 260-175; at Drexel it was 175-196; Park Avenue it was 357-127 and Dryden it was 69-55.
Caines received 890 votes, followed by Bolling at 836. Newcomer Reynolds “Ren” Zelaya garnered 537 votes and Karin Campbell, who currently sits on the board, received 509 votes.
“We would like to thank the Westbury community for the confidence it showed in us in the Tuesday, May 16 election to the board of education,” said Caines and Bolling in a joint statement. “We appreciate the support we received from all who voted for us. And, we hope to earn the trust of those who chose to support other candidates. We look forward to working with the other members of the board, the administration and the community to enhance student performance while managing our costs. Together we can make a difference.”
Having a budget at a 1.97 percent tax levy allows the district to meet its five-year projection, rebuild some of their fund balance and also do capital improvement projects, said interim superintendent of schools Eudes Budhai. The budget proposes pulling $10 million from the appropriated fund balance, down from an earlier projection of $14.4 million thanks to an increase in state aid.
“Use of the fund balance at this point in time gives us the opportunity to maintain that five-year projection moving forward,” Budhai said during an April budget presentation. “Our goal is to make sure we can sustain our budget for the next five years with the fund balance.”
One of the biggest factors in the budget is accommodating for growing student enrollment. During a budget presentation on April 20, Budhai said that the school district anticipates 134 additional students over the 2017-18 school year. There will be 96 more students in the middle school this year, with the difference between students leaving eighth grade and entering sixth grade projected at 77 students.
The budget includes the addition of 18.3 instructional personnel, including instructional positions at the middle school and six district-wide security aides.
The budget also includes $20,000 to install cameras on school buses, as well as $375,000 for classroom renovations, including ventilators, flooring, ceiling and heating and high school laboratories. Some of those classroom renovations will be offset by a grant from the office of Senator Elaine Phillips.
With the 1.97 tax levy, a home with a market value of $304,475 would have an estimated daily tax increase cost of 57 cents.