On Tuesday, May 18, Port residents can vote for the Board of Education (BOE) candidates they prefer and whether to approve or disapprove the proposed school budget and 2.06 percent increase in school taxes. There are two surprising facts to consider regarding our proposed school budget and tax increase.
First, our K-12 Port Washington school enrollment is down by about 180 students—a reduction of over 3 percent in total students.
The second key fact is that Port is getting the third highest percentage increase in state aid of all 56 Nassau school districts. We’re getting a New York State aid increase of $3 million (Newsday, 4/8/21, pg.10). This is an increase of over 30 percent. In addition, we’re also getting federal aid of $3.5 million over 3 years as part of the American Rescue Plan.
The reduced student enrollment of 3 percent and the 30 percent increase in state aid alone result in an increase of over 5 percent in funding per student without any increase in school taxes. The BOE simply wants to increase our school taxes by almost $3 million in order to increase the balance in our reserve accounts. The proposed tax increase buys nothing for our children.
Newsday has recently stated that “school districts should cancel planned property tax increases this year, and look to lower them next year.” (4/8/21, pg.26). I fully agree.
While I admire most BOE candidates this year, I’m very disappointed the incumbents failed to give us a budget with no tax increase that would still provide an increase in spending per pupil of more than $1,500. Yes, we can spend $1,500 more per pupil for 2021-22 with no tax increase at all. And with the new federal law limiting tax deductions to $10,000 for state income and property taxes, many are seeing these tax increases with no itemized deduction.
I recommend you vote “no” on the school budget and tax increase of 2.06 percent and send a message of dissatisfaction to our school officials. We will still be spending $1,500 more per pupil.
—Frank J. Russo
Pres., Port Washington Educational Assembly