Written by Rick Karas, email@example.com Thursday, 25 April 2013 00:00
Now it goes to the public. On Tuesday, May 21, the Garden City Board of Education formally adopted its proposed 2013-14 budget. The $107.6 million proposal will be voted on by residents on May 21.
“The challenge this year, as has been in the past several years... is to balance the needs of our students, the interests of our community, and having an outstanding educational school system with the fact that resources are not limitless,” said Superintendent Dr.Robert Feirsen.
This year’s proposed budget is a $3.3 million increase over last year, reflecting a 3.19 percent tax levy increase.
Rising pension costs are a big factor in the increase.
Since the budget is significantly under the State mandated tax cap, a simple majority is required for passage. $2.8 million is included in the final figure to reduce the potential for a tax spike in 2015.
Feirsen said the budget would maintain all vital programs in the district, though there are some changes. The budget will reflect a decrease in staffing of 6.5 full-time equivalent teachers, although one full-time teacher in both general and special education would be held in reserve to address possible enrollment increases in the future.
Summer academic intervention services would be eliminated and there would be a reduction in funding in the arts. The district subsidy for summer school at the high school would be eliminated, but students would still be able to attend by paying the full cost.
Most importantly, there would be no building closures and class-size guidelines would be maintained. There would also be funds included for possible security upgrades, with this week’s bombing at the Boston Marathon another reminder of the importance of keeping everyone safe.
Should the budget be voted down, the district would be faced with a contingent budget that would be nearly $3 million less than the proposed budget.
Tuesday was also the first day of standardized testing for grades three through eight, which Feirsen said went smoothly. He reiterated that the tests provide valuable feedback on instructional effectiveness, and that all districts must test 95 percent of their students or be deemed by the state in need of improvement. That’s a list the district does not want to be on. Very few students refused to take the tests this year.
Other news and notes from the meeting:
- The treasurer’s report reflected a cash balance at the end of February of $19.1 million, after disbursements of $7.4 million.
- An increase in general fund revenue and appropriation budgets was approved in the amount of $100,000 for a special Senate grant to be used for the purchase of elementary math textbooks.
- The district formerly approved being part of the cooperative with Nassau County for pupil transportation services next year.
- An $8700 grant from the Garden City PTA was approved for the purchase of A/ V equipment at the middle school. A similar grant from the PTA was accepted to purchase Microsoft tablets for students at Stratford.
- Assistant Superintendent for Business Albert Chase will retire effective June 30.
- The board will hold one more work session and budget hearing on Tuesday, May 7, 8:15 p.m. at the high school, with the next regular meeting coinciding with the budget vote on Tuesday, May 21.