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W. Hempstead, NY: Revote on $74.1M school budget; enrollment down, SPED costs up

June 11, 2023, Long Island Herald: What will happen in West Hempstead with the school budget revote?,179750?

West Hempstead residents might feel a little bit of déjà vu when they return to the polls on Tuesday, June 20, because the school board has decided to put up for a re-vote the same $74.1 million budget that was defeated last month.

Voters rejected the district’s proposed 2023-24 budget by 201 votes on May 16 —the second year in a row that West Hempstead residents defeated the budget on the first vote. Last year, the budget was passed during a re-vote after the district made slight reductions.

This year, district officials refused to adjust the budget, even though West Hempstead was only one of two districts on Long Island failing to win budget approval.

The $74,125,176 budget calls for a tax levy increase of 1.99 percent over last year’s budget.

The state permitted West Hempstead to budget as much as a 2.43 percent increase under the tax-cap law.

If adopted, the budget would result in a yearly $155 tax increase for the average West Hempstead homeowner.

Superintendent Daniel Rehman said the board of education and district administration believed putting the same budget up for a re-vote was in the best interests of the school district and community….

However, during a May 31 budget hearing, trustee Burt Blass said placing the same budget up for a re-vote and expecting a different outcome was unrealistic. Blass cast the lone dissenting vote on the school board, arguing against putting up the same budget….

“If our goal is to have a budget approved, then coming out with the same budget that was rejected doesn’t make much sense to me,” Blass added….

During the budget presentation, district officials emphasized several points, including that neighboring districts’ budgets — even those with higher tax levy increases — were adopted in May. They also said that transportation and special education costs continue to rise despite decreasing enrollment….

If the budget is defeated in the June 20 re-vote, West Hempstead would be forced by state law onto a contingency, or austerity, budget, which would result in deep and drastic cuts likely to impact after-school programs….


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