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Vote ‘yes’ on East Meadow school, library budgets

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The coronavirus pandemic vastly complicated the East Meadow School District’s process of presenting and discussing its 2020-21 budget with the public. But the Board of Education has been meeting to develop the spending plan since January, and created an airtight proposal that stays under the state tax cap, maintains all current programs and focuses on mental health, security and art and music education.

The district presented the budget with the utmost transparency: Each presentation to the board is available on the district website, along with a concise newsletter simplifying every component.

The spending plan totals $214.18 million, an increase of 2.66 percent. The tax levy — the total amount the district must collect in taxes to meet expenses — is projected to rise by 2.5 percent, according to district officials, which falls below the state’s cap for the district.

The budget includes the hiring of three social workers to alternate among the district’s four elementary schools. Superintendent Kenneth Card describes this approach as equitable, as opposed to equal, because it will distribute this resources based on schools’ needs. The social workers will help students who are struggling with mental health issues.

Residents are also casting absentee ballots, which must be returned by June 9, on Propositions Two and Three. Proposition Two is an addendum to a $58.8 million joint school and library bond that voters passed in March 2017. The district has been renovating its fields as part of the bond, and the current plan is to install a new $600,000 natural-grass football field at East Meadow High. Officials added Proposition Two to, instead, install synthetic-turf fields, totaling $2.58 million, at the high school and on another field at W.T. Clarke High School.

Such a move is necessary to give student athletes and marching band members a staple of pride and a safer, more aesthetically pleasing place to compete and perform. We urge voters to approve the proposition.

Proposition Three is the 2020-21 East Meadow Public Library budget, which is totals $7.95 million, an increase of 4.2 percent. The library is a valuable resource for residents that has continued to offer diverse, educational and entertaining programs even during the shutdown necessitated by the pandemic, and we believe that, like the school district, it has created a tight but beneficial spending plan that is well worth passing.