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School Board Approves $215M Budget, Tax Levy Increase of 2.23 Percent

Proposed budget gets 6-1 approval by the board.

Smithtown's adopted the proposed budget for the 2012-13 school year Tuesday night, which calls for a $215.3 million in spending and a 2.23 percent tax levy increase over the previous year's budget.

The vote passed with six votes in favor of the budget and one vote in opposition. The lone opposing vote came from board member Joseph Saggese. 

"We worked on the budget process for the past several months, got some concessions from the unions and everything else was in line," said board member Louis Liguori of his vote in favor of the budget. "We had a very busy year with [and] they trimmed the budget without really cutting any programs."

Saggese said the detailed budget was released with limited time to review it before the board was set to vote.

"I didn't get a chance to review the budget because it's coming out so late. The line item detailed budget was just put on the website yesterday [Monday]. I haven't got answers to many questions, I don't know what I'm voting on," he said.

Liguori said he thinks the community will approve the proposed budget.

"I think the two-percent tax cap structure that was imposed by the government, by the state, has given some assurances that the district and the community is going to work within those confines."

Saggese echoed Liguori's thoughts.

"It's not overly expensive – it's at two percent, it's within the cap," he said. "With the reserves I don't think that they will pick up on the fact that it's costing $5 million more than what they're doing, but I think it will pass."

The proposed budget would use roughly $3.3 million from the and $1.5 million from the Assigned Appropriated Fund Balance to cover hit the $215.3 million budget.

Harry April 18, 2012 at 01:25 PM
SMSF - Your taxes haven't gone up in four years! MOVE!
One Opinion April 18, 2012 at 01:34 PM
There have been so many discussions regarding Smithtowns budgets as well as other neighboring school districts on the Patch and in Newsday. If anyone is coming to the table now to complian it's too late. There have been budget meetings going on since January and nobody attends.nobody asks questions. Don't think that the administration as well as the Board of Education does not take notice. There are neighboring districts were community members take an active roll in the budget discussions. There were significant cuts this year to the Music Department and five music teachers will loose their jobs. Not one music student or parent of a music student spoke at a meeting to defend the program. High school class sizes are going up, yet not one parent seems to be bothered enough to question the schools boards decision. The community members of Smithtown are ignorant and apathetic as to the financial operations of this district. But you can be sure the unions undertand where every dollar comes from and how it's spent. That is why the taxpayer has no power and the unions do. Wake up Smithtown and realize it's too late for this year. But wait for next year. Bigger and better program cuts are coming.
SMSF April 18, 2012 at 01:43 PM
Obviously you did not receive my tax bill and see the increase I received last year--you should investigate a little more before you post nasty comments! Just trying to get by an actually use some of my paycheck on my family and myself for a change
Argile April 18, 2012 at 01:53 PM
Uh, what planet do you live on? My school taxes went up $500 in January.
Argile April 18, 2012 at 01:56 PM
So what you are saying the scare tactics the school district employed back in the 90's to get us to approve the budget are finally going to be a reality even though they get more money now than ever? Gee, what a surprise...
localguy April 18, 2012 at 01:57 PM
No more tax increases please.
scsddad April 18, 2012 at 02:53 PM
@ OneOpinion I agree with everything you said. I will add it going to be more important for the community to get involved because the only board member that ask the important questions and fights for the community is not running for re-election. The only other board member with any smarts is to laid back
Angelina April 18, 2012 at 04:18 PM
I have to disagree; members of the community have tried to get involved and ask questions only to be met with an Abbott and Costello routine of Who’s on first, What’s on second, and of course I don’t know – third base. The board and the administration do not want to hear or care about what the people in the community say or suggest they do what they want. A good example of this is cutting the time from 5 min. to 3 min. when it comes to the time for the community to ask questions of the board and administration. I also was at a board meeting when a parent asked to speak for 6 min instead of 5 min to address problems with policies involving the care for diabetic children in the district. Not only did Gladys Waldron respond with a very nasty “NO” but one of the “new” administrators told Joe Saggese, a board member, not to answer her question. The reason why we hear about community members taking an active role in neighboring districts is because their Board of Education and administration take an active role in listening.
scsddad April 18, 2012 at 06:12 PM
@Angelina, I understand what you are saying. i was at those meetings to. I was also at the meeting when the girl from West spoke about the bathroom attack. Mr. Ehmann was not going to respond until the public and Mr. Saggese told him to respond. My point is Mr. Saggese leaving the board and the person replacing him is a friend of another board member. We need to be more involved because we have no one on the board that has our back. If the board will not answer our questions; we need to Patch, Smithtown times and the Smithtown News. We need the community that does not go to board meetings know what is going on and maybe we can get some of the dead wood off the board. Maybe if people know what's going on; we can get some people running for the board.
william Cosentini April 18, 2012 at 07:36 PM
The taxes havent gone up in four years, They go up every year! and since you have such accurate figures you must be a teacher, with you'r salary you don't have to worry about moving.
Robert April 18, 2012 at 11:29 PM
Sadly, the taxes will continue to rise and our school system will struggle to maintain a program worthy of the Smithtown community. It is not the teachers fault, it is not the board's fault, and it most certainly is not the children's fault . . . It is the state formula. Long Island pays $8.1 billion in taxes to New York State and receives only $5.2 billion in return. The formula is crushing. One day we will stop attacking one another and force Albany to make the money we already pay work for us.
saint April 19, 2012 at 12:37 AM
Scsddad. Please be sure to have your facts correct. Where did you hear that the "person" replacing Mr. Saggese is a "friend" of another board member? This isn't true. Please do not state something that you don't know to be 100% true. This is how rumors start.
scsddad April 19, 2012 at 04:01 PM
The music department is one of the areas Smithtown excels in its a shame they are cutting some of the lessons out and laying off 5 music teachers when we have so much waste in New York Ave.
Jemine DePrimo April 19, 2012 at 08:40 PM
How much more would it cost tax payers to leave Nesconset open? We are only saving 1M dollars and the taxes are going up anyway....oh wait, I know why...It's so that we can pay the people in NY Ave., who haven't seen the inside of a classroom in years and rely on the people in the schools to make them look good, their ridiculous salaries! There is so much wasted overhead in this district it would be comical if I wasn't footing the bill for it.
sadday in smithtown April 20, 2012 at 01:59 PM
Excuse me but my taxes have gone up EVERY YEAR and been here 55 yrs and sick and tired of it. As said by others with a school closing etc why are they increasing again?
Mary April 20, 2012 at 02:39 PM
If you go back and read over all the posts, you will begin to see how rediculous and petty most of these posts are. My son came home from school yesterday and told me one of his teachers would not be coming back next year. I could see that he was upset by this news. He said that this one teacher was the one that he would probably remember forever and the one that has made the greatest impact on him. Why ate we cutting teachers and staff when there are so many other things we can still do. Do both high schools need sports team? Do all the middle schools need sports teams? Do we need three assistant principals in each high school? Do we need late buses? Do we need a club for every cause out there? Can we eliminate field trips? Teachers are the heart of education. There has to be another way. It sickens me that a handful of people get to decide that teachers must go, and it sickens me that my son has to experience this. The board and administration have to get their priorities straight.
St James mom April 20, 2012 at 03:34 PM
@ Mary So do the unions who want same standards in good economic times as well as bad. I know a company that had step cuts across the board to avoid a single layoff. They voted and all but one employee voted to save the jobs. Administration should give back before we make the cuts you suggest!! Teachers are very important and many influential, but as said so many times they have it all (salary, tenure, gauranteed retirement, min health costs etc and only 185 day work yr) With societal issues and drugs etc I think cutting the extracurriculars you speak of would potentially cause more harm then good. As for field trips, they are a nice break for the kids to get out of the classroom and many times educational. Besides parents contribute extra for them. When my daughter started few yrs ago they had 3 trips in the year now last 2-3 yrs it's been 1.
St James mom April 20, 2012 at 03:35 PM
should say "steep" not "step"
Vic April 20, 2012 at 03:42 PM
The BOE & admin have yet to answer why there were no administrative positions cut in this budget when the students, teachers & parents are all getting hit big time. Now that the STA contract is settled, attention should be focused on the administrator association contract, which has also expired. Public should demand administrative cuts & salary freezes. Also, new super should consolidate & streamline central administration as his first course of action.
Mary April 20, 2012 at 04:03 PM
St James mom - why don't you want to give the teachers a good salary with health benefits and retirement? I get the feeling that anything less than teachers volunteering to do their job would not be acceptable to this community. Please don't respond. I am so tired of everyone blaming the teachers for getting paid.
Sticks60 April 20, 2012 at 07:07 PM
Mary the issue is not that we don't want the teachers to get a fair return for there efforts but the issue is a fair return. Look at a High School teacher. Five 40 minute periods, 183 days a year, $100,000 in salary plus 18+% towards retirement and over $10,000 for medical equals about $200.00 per hour. Add to that you can not get fired for not doing you job, the job can not be moved to another state and your employer can not go out of business, ever. Now you might get an idea why some people get a little frustrated over is issue. I would add the whole administrative to the discussion but where would one start.
Robert April 20, 2012 at 09:59 PM
Teachers get to leap tall buildings in a single bound while the rest of us have to walk! Ridiculous. Teachers can be fired just like anybody else through due process, a protection many corporate world employees have, thanks to unions. Tough fiscal times don't mean hating our children's teachers or any other working stiff. It means that we should explore long-term solutions that benefit everyone in our communities. Cannibalism is so unbecoming. The problems lie in Albany. In the 1980's the state covered over 30% of school district funding and now they only cover 20%. They kick the can down the road and then behave as though escalating property taxes are problems that were caused by public employees. There's a cost to doing business and when Albany elects to exacerbate a tough time for many families by not properly funding for services that most families rely upon. It is downright irresponsible. Additionally, the Race to the Top funds that we worked so hard for are largely going towards standardized tests and charter schools. How is that $750 million supposed to help our kids, if almost none of it reaches the classroom?
townwatcher April 20, 2012 at 10:32 PM
Robert- You make too much sense. Get out while you still can! I have already been sucked into the vortex and it's too late for me! Your comments are right on the money. Who ever it was in the corporate world who was able to convince 1/2 half of the working public that the reason they are getting less is because of the other working public deserves a medal. They are masters of the spin. I think it was robber baron Jay Gould who once said, "I can hire 1/2 half of the working class to kill the other half." While it's not a bloody strike here in Smithtown, the dynamics are not too far off. We should be supporting our teachers and everyone else who works for a living. Instead we are heading toward a "race to the bottom." I truly hope my kids all have good salaries, pensions, medical benefits and the rest....hopefully better than mine.....See, just because someone else has something good doesn't mean you should tear them down...you should try to get it yourself.
townwatcher April 20, 2012 at 10:38 PM
I was very surprised to see that J Sagesse was the only board member who voted against the current contract for teachers. He has been hammering away for months about how it has save money, but if more board members had voted his way (if I understand this correctly) they would still be on the current contract which would actually COST MORE than the new one. To me it seems like his true colors have been revealed. He mantra: be loud, be an obstructionist, and when it comes down to it don't even take an agreement even if it helps. Maybe I'm missing something, but that says a lot.....and now he's out of here.
CMC72 April 21, 2012 at 01:49 AM
I am distraught to read that..., "Saggese said the detailed budget was released with limited time to review it before the board was set to vote. "I didn't get a chance to review the budget because it's coming out so late. The line item detailed budget was just put on the website yesterday [Monday]. I haven't got answers to many questions, I don't know what I'm voting on," he said. That's is 100% completely and utterly unacceptable that he did not have adequate time to read a document costing tax payers millions of dollars. I do not like what I'm hearing about this board of education and administration. My daughter was born six months ago and I'll start going to meetings now. We have to be involved. We have to be heard. We also need to yell it out to Albany. See the Facebook page called Save Long Island Schools to get a lot of up-to-date information about Long Island not receiving its fair share back from Albany compared to what we send them, to learn about the enormous amount of unfunded mandates raining down on school districts despite receiving less and less state aid. So, they are saying do more, more, more with less, less, less. That's not going to work. School districts are crumbling. Get involved people. YOu can make this stop. Sign petitions, read and inform yourself. This is dire.
squaw April 21, 2012 at 03:41 AM
Thank you so much! Teacher's are not untouchable but so many people want to think we make the hugest salaries and have so much. My husband and I make the same salary. I have been for a teacher for 18 years before making that salary. He has only worked at his current job for 8! Teachers can exactly be let go but many times administrators are not following up with write up in the way they should, You do have some people that should not be in the classroom, but there is no paper trail or consequences for the things they need to correct in many cases. Now hard working creative people are being cut. Teachers can be fired, what tenure protects and how it works is so misunderstood. I agree with not wanting to be sucked in because there are so many things that teachers see on the other side from some parents and are polite enough to not "parent" bash the way those same people "teacher" bash. I love working with children. Love my job and always have. The feeling of being the enemy and constantly getting attacked by the lack of work and salary and benefits people think we have is becoming to disheartening to stand.
LI Snowbird April 21, 2012 at 12:40 PM
CMC72 it would be 100% unacceptable if it were true. Fortunately for the people of Smithtown, it is not true. I live only part time in Nesconset now, but what happens here is important to me. My children went to school here and some of my grandchildren go to school here. I still pay taxes here. If I can keep informed, there is no reason a board member couldn't keep informed. Not sorry to see him go, and glad Lou Ligouri didn't let himself be dragged down by Mr. Saggese.
St James mom April 21, 2012 at 12:54 PM
@Mary.....I will reply because you cleary misunderstand my point. I am not anit-teacher and I value their importance. Again, I fault the union more then the teachers themselves. I want them to be paid a decent salary and even good benefits. (that they should contribute alittle more towards.) My point was it's one of a very few jobs in society that has the WHOLE package and good for them. The problem is tax payers can not sustain the system set in place as it stands and there is no adjustments made in difficult economic times....ie paycuts (many private sectors have current paycuts...even some unionized... ie.state employees).
scsddad April 21, 2012 at 03:34 PM
It's a shame that Ms Knox don't know why you need to read the whole budget you just need to see the components of the budget to vote. a 215 million dollar budget you should read the whole thing because most times the devil is in the details. Ms knox also said the whole budget came out on Monday afternoon so the board had no time to go over it together. I glad Mr Saggese wanted more time to go over the budget and not take short cuts like the rest of them. We are going to be in more trouble if the rest of the board don't read everything
scsddad April 21, 2012 at 03:47 PM
@townwatcher, If Ms McEnEroy voted for the contract you know it was good for the teachers that is the only reason she wanted to get on the board. Lets not forget when she ran for the board she said she wanted more community input, but when the community started to bad mouth the STA all of the sudden she decided she wanted to cut the communities speaking time from 5 minutes to 3 minutes. Also in the contract if you add the step and schedule raises it adds up to 18%

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