Miller Place Board Adopts Budget Under Cap Without Full-Day Kindergarten

(Full story as published 4/4/13)

The proposal of full-day kindergarten in the 2013-14 school budget in Miller Place has been a hot topic since first proposed by Superintendent Marianne Higuera. On Wednesday the Board of Education made a decision to adopt a budget without the proposal.

After including kindergarten in the superintendent’s budget, the school board listened to varying community views on the topic for about a month before ultimately deciding against it.

“We are all cognizant of the educational merits of doing it, but at this particular time the sustainability issue is just too much for this board to pass,” said trustee Michael Unger.

The budget would have been $67,757,777, a 4.3-percent increase, with full-day kindergarten. Instead, the adopted budget of around $67.3 million will be an increase of 3.64 percent from last year.

“They are putting together the best educational program they can for 2013-’14 and I support their decisions,” Higuera said of the board’s adoption.

The budget not only retains all staff and programs, but also includes other initiatives and comes in under the tax levy cap. The district’s maximum allowable tax levy increase was 4.3 percent but the board managed to reduce the increase to 3.94 percent after initally projecting to be at the cap.

“The board really put a lot of thought and energy into offering the best educational programs for the district they could at the time and also considered the economic and fiscal constraints in the community,” Higuera said. “Their decision to come in under the tax cap was reflective of their beliefs.”

While full-day kindergarten is in the rear-view mirror for this upcoming budget, Unger noted that time taken to analyze the program was beneficial and it is something they will look at again in future budgets. They will also have to monitor whether or not they will still have the New York State Conversion Aid for the program in upcoming years.

“We’re going to keep in contact with legislators to find out the possibility of the aid going away,” Unger said. “The good thing is we looked at it now in detail. It’s important for the community to know that it’s now fully in our laps and we’re going to continue to look at it.”

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