Written by Jill Nossa: firstname.lastname@example.org Friday, 30 March 2012 00:00
Though the budget will not be adopted until next month, the Glen Cove City School District Board of Education trustees voted – after much discussion – to stay at the 2 percent tax levy for the 2012-13 school year. A large part of the three-hour-long meeting revolved around the “fine print” involved in the tax cap law number, each of the board members’ view on that law and what it means for Glen Cove public schools.
Superintendent Dr. Joseph A. Laria introduced the discussion by pointing out the complex formula involved in determining a “cap” for each school district, expanding on a conversation held at the previous meeting and reported in the March 15 edition of the Record Pilot. It was explained that, in reality, the district’s “cap” is 2.38 percent before exclusions and 3.65 percent after accounting for state mandated exclusions, yet the superintendent said he felt that, due to the public’s perception of the law, it would not be wise to go above that number this year.
Some of the board members referred to the 2 percent as a “fictional number” set in place by Albany, and each member of the board gave a number that they felt would be reasonable, ranging from 2.0 to 2.95 percent; in the end they agreed by a majority vote that the budget they propose next month will not exceed a 2 percent tax levy increase.
“It’s not about money, it’s about perception. We can’t risk the budget not passing,” said Trustee Ida McQuair.
“The numbers from Albany are a crock,” said Trustee David Huggins. “To stay at 2 percent would be doing a disservice to the students and the district. We are almost out of bone marrow and I cannot fathom going down to 2 percent.”
Trustees Barrie Dratch, Gail Nedbor-Gross and Board President Richard Maccarone also felt it wise to stay closer to 2 percent.
“The families want a break,” said Maccarone.
Trustee Grady Farnan said he felt it would be smart to stick to the 2.38 percent “real” cap, indicating that small percent would not have a huge impact on individual taxpayers yet would have a large benefit for the district. Trustee Joel Sunshine agreed, and took that sentiment further by saying that academic programs would suffer if the district continued to pass such conservative budgets.
After everyone gave their input, the board agreed in a 5-2 vote that at the budget adoption meeting on April 16, they plan to pass a budget that will not exceed a 2 percent increase on the tax levy.
Members of the audience expressed their pleasure with this decision, raising the points that commodities are increasing everywhere and people are feeling the pinch in their budgets.
Rick Smith said, “Cut every place you can, let the community feel they are getting a break.”
“We want to feel that you recognize that pressure – passing a 2.0 percent budget sends the message that, ‘hey, we’re in this together,’” said Charlie Bozello.
A woman in the audience said that the state legislators need to know that they are putting teachers’ needs ahead of the students and there needs to be reform.
Prior to the tax cap law discussion, a lot of time was devoted to approving test scoring in-house. Dr. Laria explained that the tradition in the district has been to have the teachers grade the assessments, while last year was the exception when the tests were outsourced for scoring.
Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Technology Dr. Shari L. Camhi said that allowing the teachers to grade the tests is a professional development tool, and that knowing how to grade them provides teachers with more insight into what is being looked for in the assessment exams so they end up teaching more effectively. The consensus was that teachers preferred having the opportunity to grade the tests. However, she stated that the trend may be going toward having all assessments graded by a third party, as mandated by New York State, as early as next year.
Members of the board said they chose to have the tests outsourced for grading last year in order to save money on substitutes and paying overtime, and that it did not make sense to have them graded in-house this year if they have to be sent out next year anyway.
Camhi said it might be too late to have the agency grade them, but Dr. Laria said he would contact them and see. The board approved the recommendation pending the availability of EVI, the testing agency.
About the decision, Dr. Laria said, “Last year’s decision was the exception; this is going back to the norm…the consensus was that grading in-house is more effective product-wise.”