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Final BOE Meeting Before Budget Vote

The Port Washington Board of Education held their final public meeting before the community decides the fate of their recently adopted 2013-14 budget. Mary M. Callahan, assistant superintendent for business for Port Washington School District, said that despite the financial burdens facing New York schools, including a state-mandated tax cap, the school district managed to create a budget for next year that preserves the high-quality educational programs that parents and students have come to expect.

“A big factor was pension increases, but initially it was salary increases,” Callahan said. “But then we did have a major concession from our teacher’s union, which saved us $1.3 million in salary and benefits costs, so that helped us to bridge the gap that we had – that, and the health insurance issue, were the biggest factors we had to deal with.”

The final 2013-14 budget, which was formally adopted by the board on April 23, comes in at $138,880,242, which is a 3.92 percent increase over the 2012-13 budget. The final tax levy is 3.31 percent. However, despite the cooperation of the teacher’s union, as well as a slight increase in the anticipated amount of state aid, some minor cost-saving measures had to be implemented throughout the district to ensure that no student programs or teachers were cut next year, according to Callahan.

“We did wind up cutting about $1 million out in supplies,” she said. “And we did reduce the teacher assistants and educational assistants by approximately 16 positions. In addition, we have 15 people retiring this year, and those positions are not going to be filled again.”

Dr. Kathleen A. Mooney, superintendent of schools, applauded her administration for the job they did on next year’s budget, despite the hardships encountered in crafting it.

“We had big challenges when we started,” she said. “However, with the way that we were able to close the gap, even though we had about $1 million in cuts, we are able to pretty much keep staffing and programs intact.”

The budget is set for a public budget vote on May 21, and if it should fail to pass, Dr. Mooney said that further cuts would have to be made in the form of a contingency budget.

“We would have to go back and see where we might have to make additional cuts,” she said. “We did have a cuts proposal that was part of the budget that we did not have to implement. We would have to go back to that plan.”

In other news, Dr. Mooney spoke about two administrative positions with the district that are on the cusp of being filled: Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, and Director of Technology.

“We have moved forward with two candidates for positions in the school district,” she said. “It is our hope that we will be able to appoint them in the near future. If we are able to do so, we will convene in a special meeting to inform the public,” Mooney confirmed.  

Visit the calendar section of portnet.k12.ny.us for upcoming Board of Education meetings.