Friday, 04 February 2011 00:00
On Jan. 20, the North Shore Board of Education held a Town Meeting where Superintendent Dr. Edward Melnick presented the Initial 2011-12 Budget Proposal. In his overview, Dr. Melnick began his presentation by stating, “$2 million was eliminated in this proposal after initial internal budget meetings with the administration, principals and department heads.” He reiterated, “This budget proposal maintains the quality and scope of North Shore’s array of programs (including academics, class size, and athletics/extracurricular activities) and adds no new programs.”
Dr. Melnick said that New York State and federal mandates continue to escalate while aid to public school districts declines. He warned that the governor may implement “Mid-year cuts in New York State Aid to school districts which would impact our schools and students.”
Melnick has communicated that this year alone, North Shore’s contribution to the NY State Retirement System is dramatically increasing 28.5 percent, or an additional $1,029,922 for the 2011-12 school year alone. Dr, Melnick said, “The board cannot determine the amount of our contributions New York State requires or mandates that we pay it and have our employees take part in the retirement system.” Additionally, there will be an increase in the cost of providing health insurance, up approximately $400,000 from last year. Dr. Melnick emphasized that these two items alone reflect a 2 percent budget-to-budget increase from last year in our bottom line due to increases in both Health Insurance and Pension/Retirement System Contributions alone.
Considerations Not Included in Initial Budget Proposal:
• Governor’s 2 percent Property Tax Cap: Governor Cuomo proposed a cap on property taxes for all school districts and local governments that would be set at the rate of inflation or 2 percent, whichever is less. Dr. Melnick said, “We are not opposed to the tax cap as long as the state imposes the same tax cap on themselves for the costs that are passed down to our schools and our residents.”
• Nassau County Property Assessment Challenges and Refunds (the Common Sense Act): In late October, the Nassau County Legislature voted YES to shift the financial burden of paying property assessment errors and refunds from the county to local school districts effective in 2013-14 (an estimated increase of approximately $1 million, according to the school.)
The superintendent explained that over the next few months, trustees will have the difficult job of looking at each line item in the budget and cutting costs wherever possible. Dr. Melnick clarified that the goals for planning the budget this year include addressing all of the factors mentioned while attempting to maintain the scope of the programs now in effect and providing the best education at a reasonable cost. In the area of technology, a pilot study has been proposed for next year enabling hand-held computers to be given to one grade in the district to provide students with the same technological advantages provided by a number of our neighboring districts.
Visit the North Shore Schools homepage at www.northshoreschools.org to see a copy of this presentation, a video of Dr. Melnick presenting the initial budget proposal, and a list of the dates for the upcoming BOE budget meetings.