Governor Andrew Cuomo signed New York’s first property tax cap on June 30,2011 in Pleasantville, New York. The tax cap places a 2 percent limit on how much property tax is allowed to increase. Several school districts have budgets that go over the tax cap. Cuomo’s plan goes into effect for the 2012-2013 school year. According to Pam Attonito, a teacher for John F. Kennedy Intermediate School in Deer Park, NY ” There are many better ways of going about this”.
According to a document found on the Deer Park school district website, the total spending for the district last year was $95,209,811 and was increased by 2.72 percent. For 2012-13 it will be $97,801,071. The total school tax levy for last year was $60,568,543 and was increased by 2.38 percent. For the next year it will be $62,009,945. In the 2012-13 school year, the tax levy wouldn’t be able to go over 2 percent.
Deer Park’s budget for the 2011-12 school year was passed. The district was able to maintain extracurricular activities, current class sizes, May Moore Elementary School’s Autism Program, college readiness courses, and new high school renovations. Although the district was able to keep all of this, their funds from the American Recovery& Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) will expire this year. Rising health insurance costs and retirement plans are set to increase by about 35 percent along with operational costs. These created a large obstacle for the board of education to endure according to Marguerite Jimenez, Assistant Superintendent for Business & Operations.
In attempts to counteract the rising expenses, the Deer Park Administrators Association and the Deer Park Teachers Association at building and district level agreed to freeze their salaries for the 2011- 2012 school year. When asked how the teachers came to this decision Attonito responded saying “I know for me there was just no decision whatsoever”. She also stated ” If I can give up one years pay raise to do a lot of good for the kids in this school, no doubt in my mind that is money well unspent”. Also, an agreement with the Deer Park Teachers Association will generate a 1.2 million savings in expenditures for the school district according to a 2011 Budget Newsletter written by Jimenez.
According to John Hildebrand, an education writer for Newsday, there will be more pressure on the state for financing schools. “This is a pivotal time for schools on Long Island”, Hildebrand said. Cuomo’s new tax cap will have a major effect on schools for the 2012-13 school year.