Long Islanders to vote on proposed school budgets

Posted: Updated:
ROCKVILLE CENTRE -

Long Islanders head to the polls Tuesday to vote on school district budgets, and security is becoming a priority for many districts' spending plans.

"Our survey of 124 districts showed there's a lot of hiring of additional security guards," says Newsday's senior education write John Hildebrand. "They're also putting in protective vestibules, covering windows and that sort of thing."

MORE: Long Island Education Coverage

Rockville Centre Superintendent Bill Johnson says new security measures account for about half of the $2 million spending increase his district is proposing.

"Our board got the message from our community and focused a lot of our discussions on security," Johnson says. "It goes back to that old adage, if kids feel safe in school, they'll learn. If they don't, they're distracted and they're not going to learn."

Still, security makes up only a small portion of a district's overall budget. Salaries represent by far a much bigger chunk.

This year the average proposed school tax hike is just under 3 percent, and school taxes make up nearly two-thirds of the average total property tax bill on Long Island.

Last year was the first time since 1996 when all districts on Long Island held school budget votes on the same day - and every budget passed.

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