Removing “Budge” from Budget

Kiera Fitzpatrick, Editor-in-Chief

While breaking down the word “budget,” one would notice the word is mostly comprised of the word “budge”. Ironically so, Wantagh’s newly proposed budget has no room to budge. The May 17 ballot will decide if the lowest budget to budget increase in 11 years will be passed.

The school board voted and agreed on a proposed budget of $70,194,507 million. A 1.46% increase over this current year’s budget with a tax levy of 3.99% is a representation of a record low for Wantagh schools.

The students of Wantagh have had a rough passage through the years with instability in decisions of passing budgets. Significant cuts were made and state aid restoration offered about $140,000. “We wanted to give back to the community and so we are using $2 million from the general fund plus $565,000 from the reserves,” explained superintendent Dr. Lydia Begley to The Citizen.

This proposed budget will allow the Wantagh Public Schools to have the same academic programs and class sizes. Thankfully, the board was able to keep all the sports teams intact. There had been a rumored cut of the swimming team and fundraising was the only way to bring it back. The hit that Wantagh took was mainly in maintenance and facilities – which doesn’t affect the students as much.

In 2010 – 2011, State aid accounted for 21.5% of the total revenue. In comparison to this 2011-2012’s 18% – Wantagh took a major hit in that area. It is projected to continue to decline in 2011-2012 in the following: loss of ARRA funding ($643,000), loss of building aid ($775,000), and increased Gap Elimination Adjustment ($776,000). Superintendant Dr. Begley is talking with Seaford and Massapequa schools about shared services to benefit everyone.
The budget reductions not only affect students, but the administration and faculty members also feel the imminent vote creeping up. The Central Administration will suffer a salary freeze in order to reserve money for educational purposes. Each department proposed a budget and submitted it. These budgets were reviewed and revised. The athletic department will not have as much publicity.

Writing conferences which pulled students out of class to review their work in their English courses will be eliminated. They have been replaced with a writing lab that students can visit on their off periods and seek help from the teacher who is on duty that period. This eliminates the comfortability level and may not offer help to those without an off period – but it conserves the money that needs to be kept tight.

Maintenance spending will be kept to what is necessary. This will include minor asphalt repair, refinishing of the middle school gymnasium floor, and energy efficient lighting. Math labs for students in Geometry and Algebra II/Trigonometry will be offered. New textbooks will be distributed. These additions are among a wide array of other extracurricular additions.

“Century 21” learning will be promoted with the technological advancements displayed by the Smartboards and laptops added to the schools. The board/heads of departments all worked very hard to ensure that students receive proper learning with a small change in the privileges that Wantagh enjoys.

“If you want to vie in a sporting event against Wantagh, you have to bring your own equipment,” Principal Carolyn Breivogel said jokingly at a board meeting reflecting what a tight budget Wantagh is on. The contingency (austerity) budget of 1.92%, higher than the current proposed budget. If the proposed budget is voted down, further reductions in equipment, nonessential maintenance, capital expenditures, and public uses of the grounds will be severe.

The Students of Wantagh High School are very aware of the huge impact the passing of the budget makes. Don’t let Wantagh’s budget be voted down again! Last year it was passed by microscopic number. Urge parents and students over the age of 18 to vote on the May 17 ballot!