At the March 23 Glen Cove Board of Education meeting, several important topics were covered, including a new small bond referendum, repairs to the track and a change upward in the proposed budget. Students also protested the possible layoff of a guidance counselor.
As a result of what the administration called a bookkeeping error that they discovered during oversight, the proposed 2009-10 budget was raised by $1.3 million. Superintendent Dr. Laurence Aronstein said that there were salaries overlooked originally, which have now been added to the budget, bringing it around 2.8 percent higher at around $69,832,119. The tax levy would now be 6.47 percent.
The superintendent reiterated that the budget proposal is based on "worst case" scenario numbers if the state lowers aid this year to Glen Cove.
A question was raised as to why Glen Cove's contingency budget is actually higher than the proposed budget. The contingency budget is $70,897,397. The superintendent has explained to the Record Pilot that contingency budgets are calculated by a standard formula according to the law and audited by the state. Glen Cove has a unique case because it is the only school district on Long Island that pays for tax certioraris out of its operational budget. Tax certioraris are tax refunds when taxpayers protest their taxes and achieve a lower rate.
"On the average we have been paying $1.7 million on tax certioraris each year. That represents almost close to 2.5 percent of the budget that goes to paying people money back on their over-payment of taxes," Dr. Arsonstein said. "For all other districts on Long Island, the county pays for tax certioraris."
To compute contingency budgets, he said, as a matter of law, the school takes the current year budget, subtracts certain items including tax certioraris paid that year and anything paid on debts and then they get a number less than the budget. Then the school takes that number and multiplies it into the budget by 4 percent.
"So you give yourself a 4 percent increase," Dr. Arostein said. "That works in most districts - that's why their contingencies are less than their budgets. But when we take tax certioraris for next year and indebtedness for next year and any other expenses, we get a higher contingency budget."
There will be a special meeting Monday, March 30, where the superintendent will recommend another bond referendum for repairs.
"It will probably be for less than $4 million," he said. "We had an engineer do an independent inspection of two boilers and three roofs last week and I now have a report. In effect, the engineer says, yes the boilers need to be replaced; the roof needs to be replaced, they can go at any time." Their report will be on the school's website this week.
The school is about to undergo repairs on 51 percent of the high school roof. Dr. Aronstein said that it is recommended that the remainder of the high school roof be repaired as well as Deasy and Gribbon's roofs. They were reported to have about two years left but could go at anytime. He said the schools are offered a better price if they do them all at once.
Dr. Aronstein said that the new bond would probably be a 15-year bond that would result in an additional $33 each year for 15 years for homeowners.
Responding to accusations that the referendum will cost another $14,000 to operate, the superintendent told the Record Pilot, "There will be virtually no extra expense related to the vote this time because it will be simultaneous with the trustee election and the budget vote. We won't incur costs for renting machines, for people who work polls or the clerk."
The administration announced that work will begin on the track which will include the accoutrements needed for invitational track meets.
High school seniors and several recent graduates attended Monday's meeting to ask the board and superintendent not to make cuts in the guidance department.
The group learned that one much-appreciated guidance counselor could be asked to leave as a result of proposed budget cuts. Dr. Aronstein said he would do his best, but reiterated that it all will depend on the aid that comes in from New York State. Even tenured positions can be at risk. As he said in the past, the superintendent stated that state law mandates that cuts to school budgets are determined by seniority.
Dr. Aronstein said that the date the school board will adopt the budget has been pushed further into April so that the people who would be cut could be given every opportunity to remain with the district in case the state budget should actually be adopted soon.