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When schools open in September 2009, all school buildings currently in the Mineola School District will be open for business. The board of education has decided to endure the state budget crisis for the 2009-2010 school year without closing schools.

Mineola Superintendent of Schools Dr. Larry Licopoli told the board and the public that the district is now faced with tremendous budgetary challenges. This is due to a state budget crisis that has come as a result of the recession that has hit the national economy.

The state's executive budget proposal calls for a $661,270 reduction in state aid to the Mineola School District. In addition, the executive budget proposal calls for the elimination of the STAR rebate check, which is sent to homeowners who receive Basic STAR or Enhanced STAR.

The Mineola School Board and the administration are trying to prepare a budget to be before voters in May that residents will be able to afford.

In addition, though the state legislature has yet to act on a four percent cap on the tax levy, the amount of the budget to be funded by tax dollars, the cap has been recommended by the governor. The Mineola School District administration and the board will be attempting to keep the tax levy increase for the 2009-2010 budget under four percent.

Because the board has elected not to close schools, budget cuts have to come from the existing budget. Dr. Licopoli estimates that in order to keep the tax levy increase at 3.97 percent, the administration must cut $2 million from the current budget.

Dr. Licopoli urged the board to preserve the practices that bring about school success. Recommendations made by the administration and decisions made by the board should be based on what the community can support and what it can afford, he said.

Deputy Superintendent Dr. Michael Nagler, who will be the Mineola Superintendent of Schools on July 1, gave a presentation on Thursday's board of education meeting during which he outlined some of the areas that may receive cuts. Dr. Nagler made it clear he was not advocating any particular area to cut from, but just outlined to the board some of its options.

Among some of the areas that would likely receive cuts would be personnel. The district may be looking at a cut in an administrative position as well as five full-time teaching positions. Director of transportation Mike DeStefano left the district to take a job in the New Hyde Park-Garden City Park School District. That position may not be filled.

Additional cuts could come from non-mandated programs, equipment and supplies and the $500,000 annual line in the budget for upkeep of the buildings and grounds.

The administration and the board will be building the 2009-2010 budget in the coming months. The next two scheduled meetings of the Mineola Board of Education are Thursday, Feb. 5 and Thursday, Feb. 26 in the cafeteria of the Willis Avenue School.


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