The Great Neck school district proposed a $110,823,000 preliminary working budget at the board of education's Feb. 28 informal budget hearing. This proposed budget covers the school year from July 1, 2000 to June 30, 2001, and represents a 4.68 percent increase over the current $105,865,000 budget.
With only 5.4 percent, or $5,984,000, anticipated in state aid, $101,921,000 (91.97 percent) will have to be raised by real property tax. This amounts to $38.72 per $100 of assessed valuation.
The estimated tax rate depends on assessed valuations, over which the district has no control. As of Feb. 1, 2000, the assessed valuation was $251,976,353. Nassau County will inform the district of the actual assessed valuation on April 1, 2000.
The preliminary budget includes estimated assessed valuations for April 1, 2000: at $251,900,000, the estimated tax rate would be $40.46, or a 4.49 percent increase; at $251,550,000, the estimated tax rate would be $40.52, or a 4.65 percent increase; at $251,200,000, the estimated tax rate would be $40.58, or a 4.80 percent increase.
Board of Education President Judi Bosworth explained that this preliminary working budget comes to the board from the administration. ''It is a work in progress,'' she stated, adding that the budget proposal ''considers the needs of the schools that have been brought to the board through the year.''
There will be a series of budget hearings, as well as a board meeting on Saturday, March 25, where the board of education examines the budget ''line by line'' and comes up with the final budget that is presented to the community for a vote on May 16.
''We welcome community input,'' said Ms. Bosworth. ''The budget should reflect the board's philosophy and the community's needs.'' Among the many facets of the budget, Ms. Bosworth stated that the budget ''enhances the teaching staff,'' supports special education, maintains small class size, offers new educational programs, reflects the costs and initiatives of the state mandates, continues the security initiative, reflects the increased transportation costs (including private schools), and includes capital improvements (which differ from the bond projects).
Both the board of education and Great Neck Teachers Association President Nancy Chauvin proudly commented on the fact that 72.48 percent of the budget is devoted to instruction. Capital projects account for less than one percent, with buildings and grounds taking up 11.76 percent, and just under two percent for adult education and recreation. (Later in the evening, Board Vice President Lawrence Gross said that the summer recreation program pays 60 percent of its costs now and is working towards becoming self-sustaining, and it was also noted that the adult programs bring in large revenues.)
As for the rest of the proposed budget, 2.6 percent is for debt service, 5.84 percent for transportation, and 4.48 percent for general support.
The full proposed preliminary working budget is a comprehensive document containing over 120 pages. Trustee Barbara Berkowitz noted that this budget ''echoes Dr. Shine's (Superintendent of Schools William Shine) sentiment of 'administration under glass.' '' Ms. Berkowitz further stated that ''there is nothing that is not obvious ... all costs are explained.''
Mr. Gross stressed that the board and the district work hard to ''keep costs down.'' He stated that they work to keep the budget ''relative to the cost of living index...which few school districts do ...''
According to Mr. Gross, ''If you read the budget you will understand it; if you understand the budget you will approve it.''
Budget hearings will be held as follows: Monday, March 13, informal budget hearing, 8 p.m., South High; Saturday, March 25, budget meeting, 9:30 a.m., Phipps board room; Tuesday, April 18, official budget hearing and adoption, 8:30 p.m., North High; and Monday, May 8, budget meeting, 8 p.m. North Middle School. Voting is May 16.