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An open school board working session preceded the Great Neck Public Schools Feb. 9 Board of Education meeting. The meeting addressed the school district's upcoming 2009-2010 budget, with school board members and top administration discussing possibilities for next year.

Although very preliminary, some numbers were projected, and the school board is currently working with a possible 2.4 percent budget increase for next year. This year's school district budget is $181 million (for the current school year 2008-2009).

During the hour-long board discussion there was much talk about just what can be implemented next year and how the school district can reach such goals.

In an interview following the meeting, Board of Education President Barbara Berkowitz told the Great Neck Record that a major consideration for next year's budget is the concern that even in these extremely difficult financial times, the school district cannot just go ahead and put tremendous cuts into place. Should they call for huge cuts now, when they are again able to reinstate such cuts the result would be "a large budget inflation," according to Ms. Berkowitz.

Along these lines, Ms. Berkowitz also explained that if the school district should now get anticipated federal funding (from the new Obama administration), these funds presumably would only be a one-year funding. 'We must be careful," Ms. Berkowitz said. She emphasized that the school district cannot count on such funding in the future.

"We are in uncharted waters," Ms. Berkowitz stated. "This a time unlike any other," she said, adding, "so we are certain to find things (happening) unlike any other time."

At all times, Ms. Berkowitz and her board of education (Vice President Fran Langsner, and board trustees Donald Ashkenase, Lawrence Gross, and Susan Miner-Healy) have stressed their "sensitivity" to the community in this troubled financial environment and their appreciation of the continuous community support for the school district.

Ms. Berkowitz told the Record that she and the board are well aware of the hard times people are experiencing, "in Great Neck just as everywhere else."

Ms. Berkowitz said that the board "must strike a balance ... doing what is in the best interest of the children, for the least amount of money." She said that the board and the administration would "look at every way we can cut ... examine every budget line item."

The board of education's Feb. 9 open board working session budget discussion basically outlined a discussion of the board's approach to the upcoming 2009-2010 budget, "a philosophical stand," according to Ms. Berkowitz.

The Monday, March 2 board of education public action meeting will include the school district's second budget meeting. The meeting is at Great Neck North High School, starting with a North High student recognition at 8 p.m., followed by the public action meeting.


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