Written by Victoria Caruso-Davis Friday, 14 May 2010 00:00
Voting on the Hicksville School District’s proposed 2010-2011 spending plan will take place Tuesday, May 18. At this time, residents will have the opportunity to cast their vote for or against the following three propositions:
Proposition #1, which is broken down into six components, pertains to the district’s $114,172,211 spending plan, a proposed budget-to-budget increase of 2.91 percent - an additional $3,228,463 over the current year’s spending plan of $110,943,748.
According to the district’s newsletter, the proposed 2.91 budget-to-budget increase carries a 3.47 percent tax levy increase. Hicksville is currently the 9th lowest tax rate of 54 Nassau County school district with the per pupil expenditure at $19,104.
Costs allotted in Proposition #1 are broken down as follows:
The General Support category includes monies for the district’s overall administration, including appropriations for the school board, central administration and the operation and general maintenance of buildings. For 2010-2011, the General Support category accounts for $13,969,708 – a $550,520 increase over the present school year, which is $13,419,631.
The Instruction Support section addresses what the district calls its “major function” instructional programs as well as the salaries of principals, supervisors, teachers, guidance counselors, psychologists, librarians, health service personnel, teaching assistants, and clerical workers and aides. Also included in this section are the costs for instructional supplies, textbooks, district handicapped programs and tuition for BOCES and private schools, guidance, libraries and occupational education. For 2010-2011, the Instruction Support component is $64,752,271 – an increase of $813,534 over the $63,938,737 allocated this year.
The Hicksville School District provides transportation for approximately 4,500 students to public and non-public schools in and out of the district as well as for handicapped students and vocational students who attend special schools outside the district. Also included are costs associated with interscholastic sports trips and academic field trips. The Pupil Transportation category of the 2010-2011 budget accounts for $7,965,571 –a $286,348 increase over the current year’s spending plan of $7,679,223.
In the area of Community Services, which accounts for the census the district distributes and tabulates for residents as well as for senior citizen services, the district budgeted $80,271 – a $1,779 increase over this year's spending of $78,492. However, if the $50,000 allotted for the Hicksville Gregory Museum in Proposition #3 is approved, the Community Services portion of the budget will be $130,271. Recreational Program
This category encompasses all the recreational services funded by the school district, including summer and after-school recreation and youth programs. The Recreational Program section of the budget has decreased significantly. For 2010-2011, the district is proposing the Recreational Program at $199,140 – a $351 decrease from the current year’s $199,491.
Undistributed and Other Debt
The Undistributed and Other Debt section includes payment of employee benefits such as retirement, Social Security, health insurance and unemployment insurance, along with interest on borrowing. For the 2010-2011 school year, this area of the budget accounts for $27,205,250, an increase of $1,576,633 over the current year’s total of $25,628,617.
State Aid and Mandates
Of the budget’s total cost, school officials estimate that $93.3 million would be paid through tax dollars with the remaining offset by non-tax revenue ($17.4 million), fund balance ($2 million) and reserves ($1.5 million) with the remainder offset by state aid.
For 2010-2011, the district is anticipating a state aid reimbursement of approximately $14 million, $1.7 million or 10.8 percent less than this year. Along with a state aid reduction are several state mandates, such as the MTA payroll tax of $300,000.
Should the 2010-2011 spending plan be rejected, the board would have to decide whether or not to submit the budget, unchanged, for revote; submit a revised budget to the voters; or operate on a contingency budget. Failure of the budget on the second vote would require the district to adopt its contingency budget, which, for 2010-2011 would be $110,685,246 – $3,486,965 less than the proposed spending plan.
Under the contingency spending plan, district officials state they would be forced to eliminate staff and programs essential to student success and which could have a negative impact on the district. Drastic cuts could include termination of positions, including teachers, administrators and support staff and increased class size as well as elimination of elective opportunities, field trips, professional conferences for staff, the Adult Continuing Education Program and Evening High School, Summer Recreation Program, Secondary Summer School Program, new textbook purchases, non-health and safety related maintenance projects, extracurricular clubs and activities (including interscholastic sports programs) and limited school days as there would be no activities, no after-school transportation and no supervision.
Proposition #2 asks voters to establish a fund in the amount of $978,000 from unexpended funds from the 2009-2010 school budget to be utilized for energy conservation projects, including installation of occupancy sensors throughout the district; installation of energy efficient lighting in all school gyms; installation of energy efficient lighting and ceilings in all elementary and middle school classrooms; replacement of exterior doors and roof at Fork Lane; and replacement of a roof at Old Country Road.
This proposition, which is designed to assist in realizing long- and short-term savings in energy costs and ensure appropriate maintenance of district facilities, represents no additional cost to the taxpayer; funds for these projects are available due to unanticipated revenues and cost-saving measures.
Proposition #2 is contingent upon voter approval of Proposition #1. Should the proposition fail, the money will be applied to the district reserve funds as well as unreserved balance accounts based upon recommendation from district auditors.
As in previous years, Proposition #3 asked voters to approve the allocation of $50,000 to the Hicksville Gregory Museum for educational services associated with its programs; passage of this proposition will result in a cost of $3.50 per homeowner.
Proposition #3 is contingent upon voter approval of Proposition #1.