The Mineola Board of Education continued its discussion of the 2006-2007 budget on Thursday. The board and the district are working to present to the public but are also seeking ways to cut the budget in case it should fail and the board is forced to adopt a contingency budget.
In budget talks on March 16, the board discusses the possibility of cutting the sports and music programs as well as pre-kindergarten if the public should fail the proposed budget. Now, the board is looking at the possibility of outsourcing transportation instead of its current in-house system.
Although Superintendent of Schools Dr. Larry Licopoli and the board of education are trying to communicate to the public what items will be cut if the board should adopt a contingency budget, they are hoping the public will pass the proposed budget, which the board plans on adopting at its April 6 workshop meeting.
The proposed budget for the 2006-2007 school year the board is considering calls for maintaining all programs from pre-kindergarten to a district operated transportation system. In addition, the proposed budget will include one half of a new K-8 math program series designed to improve student achievement in math as well as K-12 intramurals and 10 additional performances by the marching band that were taken out of the 2005-2006 budget as a result of having to go on contingency. The seventh grade sports teams that were cut as a result of having to go on contingency were not put back into the budget as of yet.
The superintendent of schools is recommending saving money through the reduction of staff such as 14 full-time equivalent teacher aides, 5.5 full-time equivalent clerical positions, a full-time administrator and 7.6 teachers of which the district must hire back three as per the conditions of the contract with the teacher's union.
The proposed budget the board is discussing calls for a 6.97 percent spending increase over the 2005-2006 budget and a 6.79 percent increase in the tax levy, which is the amount of the budget that has to be funded through taxes. It is estimated that if the board was to adopt the proposed budget, the tax increase for the average assessed home in the district, based on the current tax rate and full value assessment of 2005-2006, is $347.07.
Two out of the past three years the budget has failed so the board is preparing in case the 2006-2007 proposed budget was to fail. In order to adopt a contingency budget, the board must take $1,090,000 from the proposed budget.
Among the cuts that will be considered are reducing the preventive maintenance by $150,000 although the district will keep its annual $500,000 dedicated for the five-year capital plan, cutting K-12 intramurals, and the 10 additional performances of the marching band. However, the major cut will come from outsourcing the district's transportation instead of keeping it in-house. Dr. Licopoli estimates that outsourcing transportation would save the district $653,000.
However, the proposed budget will include the district's own transportation department. The board will only consider outsourcing transportation if the proposed budget should fail.
A contingency budget would call for 5.34 percent spending increase over the 2005-2006 budget and a tax levy increase of 5.24 percent. Based on the current tax rate and full value assessment for 2005-2006, the estimated tax increase for the contingency budget would be $263.18 for the average assessed home.