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District Adopts a Zero Based Budgeting Plan

Superintendent said the budget will include caps and a breakdown of each line of the 2011-12 budget in order to help all community members understand the process.

Superintendent Dr. Donald James said the district will institute a new budgeting process for the 2011-12 budget which will include additional paper mailings, more budget meetings and a hearing prior to the formal adoption of the budget.

James announced the new process at Thursday night's meeting at , adding that parents will also have access to a portal online to ask questions and view questions asked by other members in the community.

"We want to be as transparent as possible and we want a fiscally conservative budget that maintains the integrity of our programs, supports increased academic achievement and intellectual growth, maximizes revenue outside of taxes and we want to align the budget with community expectations," James said.

In the new budget plan each line on the approximately $165 million budget will start at zero and then many will have a ceiling based on numbers from the 2010-11 budget. James said that this does not mean the tax base will remain the same, but it is an attempt to keep taxes at the same rate. 

"Some lines must increase because of contractual issues, for example the transportation contract may say each year there will be a two percent increase and that is something that has to be included. Other lines, like textbooks, supplies and administrative costs, can be evaluated and assigned a do not exceed amount," James said.

Jeanette Salvito, a Commack resident and former administrator, asked if teachers will be able to submit wish lists for the 2011-12 school year. James said these wish lists can be submitted but will be evaluated before the line budgets – for new or exceptional items and programs – are presented to the public.

James said the district will also continue to work to recover any lost funds from New York State aid. He said the district this year alone, re-evaluated their aid eligibility and found that $1.3 million had not been given to the district. These funds, James and the board explained, help fill the gap in the budget.

A new portal – an e-board similar to the ones used by Commack students – will be available for the community to question, view presentations and continue to remain informed about the new process. James said the Courier will now be mailed in a smaller form, with a longer form available online to allow for additional budget mailings as he said many may not wish to view this information solely online.

The new website devoted to the budget process can be viewed through the traditional Commack Schools site or by visiting CommackSchools.org. 

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