The Jericho Board of Education unanimously adopted the proposed 2009-2010 school district budget at an open meeting on March 19. The $105.2 million budget represents a 3.77 percent budget increase and a tax levy increase of 3.94 percent. Since the early fall, the district has hosted a series of public finance forums to review the financial status of the school district and create a budget for the coming year. The Board of Education and district administration requested input from members of the school community at each of these workshops. "We have worked tirelessly over the past several months to ensure that students continue to receive the highest quality instructional program while being extraordinarily mindful of the financial impact on our taxpayers," explained Jericho Superintendent Hank Grishman. "In an effort to achieve this delicate balance, the budget we are presenting contains an increase in the tax levy of 3.94 percent. This amount actually represents less of an increase for taxpayers than the amount allowed by Education Law for a contingent budget. Based on last year's budget, the calculation for a contingent budget in 2009-2010 allows a tax levy increase of up to 4 percent."
The proposed 2009-2010 budget will support educational program enhancements, all of which are based on student need, interest and enrollment:
1. Expansion of Project Lead the Way, which is a very successful high school engineering program. The second sequence, Civil Engineering and Architecture, will be added next year.
2. Chinese Language and Culture will be expanded to include Level III next year at the high school.
3. Introduction of new high school course offerings including: Multivariant Calculus, Molloy College Creative Writing Program, Advanced Media Arts II, Introduction to Philosophy and BOLT (Building Outstanding Leaders for Tomorrow).
4. The Middle School seventh-grade Project History, a social studies and research skills elective, will be expanded to eighth-grade next year.
5. "Fundations", a supplemental elementary reading program, will be expanded to include all second-grade classes in the district.
The budget increase will enable the district to expand options for students with special needs, which include:
1. The expansion of a collaborative teaching model at the elementary and middle school levels where special education teachers and regular education teachers provide instruction in a classroom with no more than one-third of the students in need of special services. This co-teaching model raises the level of effectiveness with two professionals in the classroom, but is also more efficient as it reduces the number of aides assigned to the classroom or to an individual student. The model is an authorized State Education Department option and continues the Jericho spirit of full inclusion for students with comprehensive needs.
2. Additional tuitions for children with special needs placed either in other public schools, private placements, or a BOCES program.
3. Increased professional services (OT, PT, ABA, and Speech) for students in Jericho Schools, as well as students who attend private schools within the school district.
Included in the proposed budget are funds for the following improvements in technology and information processing:
1. Replacement of 110 student and 20 staff workstations that are 7-8 years old
2. Purchase of SMARTBoards, a valuable instructional tool for regular and special education students, to support K-12 instruction
3. Updating the Cantiague Computer Lab II
4. Upgrade servers and network infrastructure
5. New Online Homework Program
The three-year transportation contract negotiated in 2007 resulted in a yearly increase of 7 percent in the cost of student transportation.
The proposed budget will cover the costs for the implementation of the third year of a three-year capital improvement plan. The replacement of the roof at the Jackson School, which is included in the 2009-2010 budget, will cost approximately $1.6 million. The current roof, which is 20 years old, has reached its maximum life expectancy and is beginning to show significant signs of deterioration. Replacement of the roof will prevent potential damage to the interior of the school and additional repair costs in the future.
In addition to increasing costs that support district programs and facilities, changes in proposed State Aid is expected to create a loss in funding up to $800,000 and the loss of Interest Income Revenue up to $400,000.
Staffing changes that are reflected in the 2009-2010 budget include:
1. Faculty: (Please note that all changes are based strictly on a current analysis of student enrollment numbers. None of the changes will impact program or class size.)
a. Elementary (K-6) changes include: -4 classroom teaching positions and -1.8 special area positions. Two teaching positions will be held in budget reserve to provide allowances for potential class splits due to new student enrollment before September.
b. Secondary (7-12) level changes include: -1 middle school position, +4 high school positions and -1 special area position.
2. Co-curricular: reduction in numbers of elementary, middle and high school clubs.
3. Athletics: elimination of second teams at the seventh- and eighth-grade levels, JV 9 teams for softball, baseball, girls and boys volleyball, a portion of ice hockey costs, assistant coach and site supervisor positions.
4. Clerical: reduction of 3.5 positions in district administrative offices.
5. Facilities: reduction in overtime costs for custodians, maintenance and grounds personnel.
6. Reduction in equipment, supplies, materials and textbooks.
What is a contingent budget?
In the event that a school budget is rejected, the Board of Education is empowered to levy a tax for ordinary contingent expenses. If a school budget is rejected twice, the school board must adopt a contingent budget. Education Law places a computed dollar cap on the contingent budget dollar amount. A contingent budget for Jericho's 2009-2010 school year would allow up to a 4 percent increase above the prior year's budget amount.
Contingent expenses are the costs considered essential to maintain the educational program, preserve property, and assure the health and safety of students and staff. Examples of expenditures that are not allowable include: new equipment (except for the replacement of computer equipment, which has been deemed by the Commissioner to be a contingent expense), budgetary subsidies of food service, pupil supplies, certain capital expenditures and public use of school buildings and grounds.
"The district and Board have worked closely to preserve the foundation of our educational programs and facilities for all of our children to succeed at the highest levels," said Mr. Grishman. "Tough fiscal times require us to make difficult choices. We are hopeful that the proposed budget will be supported by all voters in our school community."
For specific information about the proposed budget expenditures, please consult the district website: jerichoschools.org. Complete copies of the proposed budget are available in the district business office. Please call 203-3600, ext. 3214 for more information.
The budget vote is scheduled for Tuesday, May 19, at the Jericho Middle/High School Samuel Springer Gymnasium. New voters may register at the MS/HS gym on the day of the vote. A person is qualified to vote if they are U.S. citizens over the age of 18 who have resided in the district for more than 30 days. Two documents must be provided for proof of district residency (i.e.: drivers license, telephone bill, utility bill, house deed or apartment rental agreement). Please note that in an effort to better accommodate working residents, voting hours are between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.