May 21, 2009 | 06:58 AM
Commack voters supported the school board's proposed 2009-10 budget Tuesday by a margin not seen in a decade, according to Superintendent of Schools James Feltman.
Residents voted 2,632 to 1,891 to pass the board's adopted $156 million spending plan. In the trustees' election, incumbent Debbie Guber, running unopposed for the sole available seat, was elected to a second three-year term on the Board of Education with 2,925 votes.
The budget carries a projected tax levy and rate increase of 3.85 percent. A contingency budget would have cost the average Commack taxpayer $14.40 less per year while eliminating funds for equipment and student supplies, summer camps, community group use of district facilities, overnight field trips, drivers' ed and continuing education classes, according to the district website.
"It's been 10 years since we've had such a popular turnout," Feltman said Wednesday.
He attributed the support to residents' understanding that school officials were doing their best to keep taxes low and services up despite shrinking state funding and a decrease in the district's taxable assessed value. The budget eliminates close to 35 positions, half due to enrollment changes and much of the remainder due to cost-saving cuts in the range of elective classes being offered at the secondary level, according to Feltman. And that's despite concessions by two district unions and the central administrators themselves, including Feltman, who agreed to forego salary increases next year. "The message had to be that everybody has to make a sacrifice," he said.
"I think that the community recognized that the board did its best in trying to strike a balance between the needs of the students and the needs of the taxpayers," the superintendent said.