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Budget Information
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Festival of the Arts Musical Performances

May 16, 2017
3:30 - 6pm at Commack Middle School
5-5:30 Jazz Performance at Commack High School
Visual Arts Displays
at Polling Locations All Day!

The Board of Education welcomes all community members to attend all Board of Education Meetings and Budget Work Sessions. If you have any questions, please send an email to budget@commack.k12.ny.us . Please include your name and address if you'd like us to consider a question for posting (for verification purposes only, private information will not be posted with your questions).

This page will be updated frequently during the budget process with additional information and presentations. Please check back after each of the scheduled Budget Workshops and Hearings.

Requests for copies of the proposed annual operating budget for the succeeding year (and all required attachments) should be made at least seven days before the Budget Hearing. Copies are also available at district office (Hubbs), public libraries, and on this website.

Voter Registration will be held at Commack High School  on May 4, 2017, and at Commack Middle School on May 10, 2017, from 9am until 9pm. The budget vote and trustee election is on May 16, 2017, from 6am until 9pm. For voting information, please see page 6 of the calendar.

Property Taxes & the Tax Cap:

What is the property tax cap?

The tax cap law establishes a limit on the annual growth of property taxes levied by local governments and school district to two percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less.

Who is subject to the tax cap?

The cap applies to all independent school districts and to all local governments including counties, cities, towns, villages, and special districts. The cap does not apply to New York City.

Are there exceptions to the tax cap?

There are exclusions to the cap, including certain costs of significant judgments arising out of tort actions, and large year-to-year increases in pension contribution rates assessed by ERS and TRS.

Is there an override mechanism to the tax cap?

The tax levy cannot exceed the cap unless 60 percent of voters (for school districts) or 60 percent of the total voting power of the governing body (for local governments) approve such increase.

The above information is from The Property Tax Cap; Guidelines for Implementation, New York Department of Taxation and Finance and the New York State Department.

What's the difference between the Tax Levy and the Tax Rate?

Tax Levy - the actual amount of taxes collected by the Town(s) and allocated to school districts. This number is set by school districts by the end of October every year.

Tax Rate - the amount collected from each property owner as determined by the Town Assessor, not the school district. The increase in the rate may be more or less than the increase in the tax levy, depending on the increase of decrease in property values in any town.

How is the Tax Levy determined?  

The Board of Education must assess a TAX LEVY for the coming school year.  This is the total amount of money that the Board determines will be needed to balance the school budget after State Aid and other revenue sources are taken into account.  The overall tax levy is projected before the school budget vote in May, but the school board can amend the levy if conditions change before the tax levy is finalized in late September.

What is the town's responsibility in assessing the Tax Levy?

Our school District is split between the Town of Huntington and the Town of Smithtown.  In the late spring, the towns prepare a Final Assessment Roll for that year listing all parcels of property and the assessed value of each property.  Information from these rolls is shared with the school District, typically in September. The school district has no jurisdiction or authority in the assessed values of each homeowner.

What is the state's responsibility in assessing the Tax Levy?

The State Office of Real Property Services (ORPS) attempts to "equalize" property assessments throughout New York State. ORPS compares properties in every town and how they are currently assessed by the Town Assessor and calculates an EQUALIZATION RATE for each town. This is done because every town uses different measurements and calculations to determine assessed values; there is no state-wide system. The equalization rate represents the state's judgment of how closely assessed values in that town match true market value of the properties.

When are Tax Bills printed and mailed?

By December 1, individual tax bills are printed and mailed to property owners by the respective Towns of Huntington and Smithtown.  Individual tax bills are calculated using:

  • The assessed value of each land parcel as determined by the Town Tax Assessor.

  • Any applicable exemptions (STAR, disability, senior citizen, and/or Veteran).

  • The school tax rate for that town that year.

General Questions:

What's going on with the rental buildings?

The District has five buildings that are no longer utilized as schools for our Commack students. Some have athletic fields that our athletic teams use for practices, and the community uses for outside sports teams. These buildings are rented to a number of tenants that generate rental income. Not every room in each building may be rented at any given time. The District uses some areas for storage and Summer Programs. 

What has the District done to control spending, maximize costs, maximize efficiency and increase cost effectiveness?

The District has been making strides to review areas to maximize efficiencies and make reductions where possible through efficient bidding, requests for proposals, and use of County and BOCES contracts to maximize volume discounts. 

The Energy Performance Contract has greatly increased our cost savings and decreased energy usage, while improving our facilities, also at no cost to our residents . We also monitor the costs of fuel and oil, and routinely alternate to the energy that is less expensive. The District has software in place that automatically shuts down computers at night, employees are reminded to conserve and shut off lights when leaving rooms and buildings for time periods greater than one hour (many buildings have motion sensors). As a result of the EXCEL grant and the EPC, energy savings though energy efficient equipment and new roofs have been realized. 

Has the District explored regional solutions to cost savings?  

Yes, the District participates in many BOCES programs and services that save money through a cooperative approach. The District also participates in a purchasing cooperative with Eastern and Western Suffolk BOCES and actively uses county and state contracts to obtain better pricing and maximize savings.  Participation in these programs often reduces costs by as much as 30% over individual purchases, due to the tremendous purchasing power of the 73 school Districts, two colleges and three towns that participate in the program.

How much of the budget do residents vote on?  

Residents vote on the entire budget. This is a “YES” or “NO” vote to authorize the District to spend an amount of money.  The budget includes funding for employee salaries and benefits, which the District is contractually bound to pay. As with any contract, the terms of these agreements can only be altered with the consent of both parties – the District and its employee bargaining units. Voting no on the budget does not change the terms of these contracts. Some contractual items are determined and assessed by the State and outside of District control.

What can parents and community members do to communicate with legislature?

The District encourages you to express your right and communicate with your elected representatives.  To that end, we post contact information for you to facilitate that effort on our website. 

What programs are mandated by the state?
The overwhelming portion of the District's budget goes toward meeting state and federal mandates and requirements: some are funded by the State, but many are not — everything from areas of study to building climate issues to transportation regulations.

Elementary school mandates include instruction in math, science, English language arts, social studies, health, physical education, art, ENL, and music.

Middle and high school students are required, among other mandates, to have a certain amount of units of study for English, social studies, math, technology, science, physical education, home and career skills, the arts, library skills, ENL, and second language.

Statewide testing in grades 3 through 8 was instituted with no provisions for additional funds to pay for the testing and scoring of these mandated assessments.

Will the District continue reviewing field trips next year?

The District is extremely mindful of the economy and the effect on our residents. We will continue reviewing field trips for efficiency, effectiveness and educational value. While field trips will always play a role in our education process, the manner in which we conduct them continues to be evaluated. Some educational field trips that have historically been off site may be brought on site and still provide the same educational advantages. The District also believes some trips are too valuable as off site experiences and they will continue to be held.

What do the long-range enrollment projections look like, and what are the budget implications?

Kindergarten registration is still in progress, although our long range enrollment data shows that we will be entering a downward trend in student enrollment in the next few years. Appropriate reductions or increases will be made as needed. We are monitoring birth rates in both Huntington and Smithtown and noted a slight increase last year. Birth rates are important in that they provide some long-term data that can be used to predict future enrollments. Children born today can generally be expected to start school five years from now. 

Transportation:

Why does the bus drive down my street multiple times in a morning or afternoon?

A bus will often traverse a certain street more than once because of the other areas it needs to travel to in the neighborhood or development and because best safety practices often impose right-side of the street student pickups. These make it especially likely that buses will travel a main artery more than once when they are in the area. 

It’s also possible that this is more than one bus driving down the street for different reasons (see next question).

Why do multiple buses drive down my street within the span of a few minutes?

That depends on the destination of the riders. Students in elementary, middle, and high school in a certain neighborhood may be part of different routes with travel times that are near each other. Transportation for a student with special needs can often be individualized or on a different bus run than other students. Other students may be headed for a private/parochial school on a District bus which we are required to provide by law. 

Can parents opt-out of transportation, and wouldn’t this save the District money?  

Parents can and do let the District know that their student does not need transportation. In terms of saving money, however, the District is precluded by law from making any parent notification of that nature binding. The District routes its buses based on student demographics, but also considers ridership usage and fluctuations. Recent Commissioner decisions encourage school districts to have an available seat only for those students who are expected to ride the bus. SED further advises to have an additional 10 percent of the seats available in case of unanticipated riders, in relation to the district's own routing calculations based on the students transported (not the posted capacity). The Transportation Department follows and uses SED guidance and Education Law to optimize the fleet's efficiency.

How far is the District mandated to travel to transport students to private/parochial schools and other student placements?

The District is mandated by state law to provide school transportation to all students who reside within its boundaries to private/parochial schools within 15 miles. District All private/parochial schools the District currently transports students who are within the 15 mile limit. 

Employee Contracts:    All contracts are posted on the website.

Contact Information
By Mail:  P.O. Box 150, Commack, NY 11725
By Phone:  (631) 912-2000
By Email: webmaster@commack.k12.ny.us
Directions to Commack Schools
The Commack School District Mission Statement
Within the context of a caring community of learners, our primary mission is to provide an exemplary
learning experience that will allow each child to acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, attitudes, and
values to become a successful, contributing member within our school community and greater society.
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