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Manhasset School Board Adopts Budget April 14

Budget to Budget Increase Is 2.49%;

Tax Levy Is 2.79%

In years past during budget season, the Manhasset Press reported how the high school auditorium was filled to capacity with parents, at times eight deep at the microphone, pleading with the administration not to cut drama programs, etc. April 14, Superintendent Cardillo commented that on the evening the budget was adopted there was a one-hour presentation on languages. The phenomenon was due, in large part, he believed, to the budget process followed by the district. There was little community presence; it was very quiet.

The Manhasset Board of Education adopted the proposed budget in the amount of $85,592,098 for the 2011-12 school year. This is a slightly lower increase than proposed last month, and represents a final budget to budget increase of 2.49 percent with a corresponding tax levy of 2.79 percent. This year, should the budget go down, the contingency budget is 1.92 percent.

The 2011-12 Proposed Budget Property Tax Report Card is as follows:

Total spending, $85,592,098; total school tax levy, $76,089,738; total public school enrollment, last year, 3,207 and this year 3,226; consumer price index, last year 0.59 percent and this year 1.60 percent.

Fund Balance Information—Actual 2010-11 and (Estimated 2010-11)

Adjusted Restricted Fund Balance $3,734,029 ($4,284,853)

Adjusted Appropriated Fund Balance $1,475,000  ($1,000,000)

Adjusted Unrestricted Fund Balance  $3,329,162  ($3,425,187)

Adjusted Unrestricted Fund Balance as a percent of the total budget 3.99 percent  (4.00 percent)

At the April 14 meeting, Laurie Marshall-Lauria, district coordinator for World Languages and English as a Second Language (ESL), gave a well-prepared presentation. During her presentation The Tower Foundation was praised for their gift 4-5 years ago of a Language Lab, said to be a fantastic resource. There are 30 stations, used continually, with some slated for replacement this summer.

A fixture at school board meetings, Bill D’Antonio addressed the budget, asking what happens next year when there is no assistant superintendent’s salary to cut or possibly no reserves to use. (This year’s budget was lowered by .5 percent using reserves.)

The administration responded that it is not yet known what the nature of the governor’s proposed 2 percent tax levy cap will be—especially in light of the fact pensions and healthcare costs would increase the budget by 3.1 percent. It is not yet known if it will be a hard cap or a soft one allowing specific exemptions such as pension and healthcare costs. Also, most agree a tax cap, if imposed, must be paired with meaningful unfunded mandate relief.

The administration emphasized, due to the fiscal restraint of the last three years, that budget cuts will become more and more challenging. Governor Cuomo, a trustee said, sees administration overhead as an easy target, yet talks in Albany of a move toward mandated annual teacher evaluations would require seasoned administrators to perform them. “We could,” she said, “be in a serious Catch 22.”

Community members are supposed to be limited to one question, but, since Mr. D’Antonio was the only resident present asking questions, he got another, about the reductions in full-time equivalent personnel of 12 or so, wondering how many “whole teachers” lost their jobs. Superintendent Cardillo said in every situation a part time teacher lost his/her part-time (.5) equivalent and will not have the position reinstated next year. No full-time teacher had a position cut but there were 3.5 teacher reductions, some who went from a .8 (full) to a .6, etc. No teacher position was “collapsed.”

Cardillo added they continue to look at the elementary numbers to see if it will be necessary to eliminate one or two positions based on enrollment data.

Other Business

Deborah Bowman and Bianca DeGaudenzi, Manhasset Parent Association for Special Education (PASE), gave two Wii consoles and various Wii games to be used by the Shelter Rock and Munsey Park CAPP Programs (social skills), in the approximate value of $800.

Paul Reiss gave an Alesis QS 8.1 vintage synthesizer, case, keyboard amp, guitar stand and accessories valued at $1,500—the industry standard in the 1980s and in excellent condition. The gift is in memory of Manhasset alumni Susan Reiss, his sister, a music teacher.

Also listed on the agenda was the approval by the board of an agreement between the Congregational Church, the Village of Munsey Park and the school district for the district to use a portion of the church parking lot to accommodate overflow parking at the Munsey Park Elementary School, in exchange for certain improvements, including the installation of a walkway between the adjoining properties and necessary sidewalk repairs, to be undertaken by the district.

On March 31 the results of the parent survey for the school breakfast program in the elementary schools were received. For the State to grant a waiver for the program, a response rate of at least 33 percent with 80 percent indicating a lack of interest is required by the State. The district had received waivers for 1995-96 through 2010-11. The results received this year revealed a 51 percent response rate at Munsey Park Elementary with 95 percent of those responding indicating a lack of interest. At Shelter Rock the response rate was 44 percent with 94 percent indicating a lack of interest. Based upon the lack of parental interest in the breakfast program, the district should apply for a waiver from the state.

There was a second reading on the Policy for Homeless Students.

The next board meeting, May 5, is a Formal Budget Hearing, as per NYSED requirements.

The budget vote and board election is Tuesday, May 17 in the secondary school gymnasium from 6:30 a.m. until 10 p.m.

The deadline for registering to run for school board trustee was 5 p.m. Monday, April 18. Incumbent Trustee Pat Aitken will run unopposed for the one open seat.