Written by Matthew A. Piacentini Friday, 02 April 2010 00:00
This past week, the North Shore Schools Board of Education adopted the $86,455.773.19 2010-11 budget, which constitutes a 3.314 percent increase over last year’s budget. The board communicated to the public in attendance that this was a challenging year to bring in a number that they hope will prove passable when it comes to the May 18 vote.
Trustee George Pombar addressed the financial difficulties in accommodating increasing mandated costs saying, “This year, to come in at 3.31 considering the increases you see, it is quite a stretch. Next year will look the same or worse.”
“We did the best we could do,” Trustee Amy Beyer said. “We worked very hard.... We should feel good about the budget we are presenting. This is a responsible budget given the circumstances.”
Throughout the budget review process, the board has tried to protect the things they said make North Shore special. Trustee Carolyn Genovesi addressed this saying, “We should make it clear that this budget holds dear the core of what we do. The decisions that were made reflect that.”
Along these lines, Trustee Mary Kolkhorst said she was proud that, “through the line-by-line discussion, we preserved as much as we could that is important to us. I don’t believe anything that we cut will dramatically affect the kids. That’s what important.”
Trustee Herman Beliner added, “The community has really rallied around this proposal. It is gratifying to see that kind of support.”
During public comment, a resident said that she has heard different rumors throughout the community as to how class sizes are affected by this budget.
Superintendent Dr. Edward Melnick said that if it passes, the budget adopted will reflect the elimination of 11.5 current positions, with eight at the elementary level.
“Of those eight, five are due to enrollment decreases,” he said. “So they would have been cut anyway. Three will result in slightly larger classes in Glen Head and Glenwood Landing in the fourth and fifth grades.” These will come up to 21 and 22 students, he said, as Sea Cliff already has. Primary classes remain the same size.
“This still puts us well below neighboring districts’ fourth and fifth grades,” Dr. Melnick added.
It was explained that in the middle and high schools class sizes will remain the same.
“If budget does not pass – all of that’s out the door,” Dr. Melnick added to clarify.
Board President Igor Webb said, “People are rightly very concerned about class size. It will remain very much the same. The danger is going forward.”
A resident said, “People are assuming that even if the budget passes class sizes are going to be increasing.”
Trustee Webb responded, “It will have some effect, but not the effect people are concerned about.”
Trustee Pombar added, “We’re expecting the population to be smaller anyway. So that would be changing anyway.”
Trustee Genovesi said, “The board is confident of Dr. Melnick and the administrators’ assessment of how and where [the class size increases] will be done. There are board members whose children will be in these classes. It will be OK.”
Trustee Beyer reiterated, “Class sizes will be slightly lower than other districts.”
Dr. Melnick added, “Many neighboring districts are at 26, 27 and 28 in elementary classrooms – Jericho, Manhasset, Locust Valley, Oyster Bay. The largest in the upper grades [at North Shore] will be 21-22-23 in the fourth and fifth grades.”