As many school districts across Long Island present proposed cuts for their 2013-2014 budgets, Lynbrook school officials plan to add staff and programs for next year.
"The fiscal climate is a difficult one, but Lynbrook is healthy … and we are able to meet the needs of our students," Jonathan Klomp, the district's administrator for personnel and student support services, stated during Wednesday night's budget workshop.
The workshop hosted by the Lynbrook Board of Education, focused on the proposed 2013-14 budgets for Staffing, Salaries and Benefits, Central Administration, Debt Service and Interfund Transfers.
Not only will Lynbrook be able to maintain all of its current staff positions but the district is budgeting to add 4.8 more including one full-time first grade teacher at the West End School.
The district is also bolstering its speech staff by 0.6 to be shared by West End and Marion Street School. A part-time psychologist, a 0.5 FTE, will be also be added at Marion Street School, bringing the total in the district to 7.5. Special education staffing across South Middle School, Maron Street and Lynbrook High School will also increase by 1.9 FTEs. South Middle School will see a 0.2 full-time equivalent (FTE) increase in its technology staff and foreign language instruction at North and South middle schools will be increased by the addition of a 0.6 FTE that will be shared among the two schools.
Gerard Beleckas, assistant superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, explained that many of these staffing increases are linked to the fact that Lynbrook has been steadily bringing back special education students who had sent to out-of-district schools in the past.
Starting next school year, Lynbrook will also provide an in-district career development program at the high school, offering life skills and vocational training for special education students.
The salary budget, which was roughly $40 million in 2012-13, will increase by nearly $714K next school year due to these staff additions and contractual raises for existing staff. Benefit costs, including health insurance and pension contributions, will go up by more than $2 million to $19,389,225. (To offset the skyrocking pensions costs the district is using $700K from its reserves.)
The tuition Lynbrook pays to Nassau BOCES Cultural Arts is going up by more than $13K next year because an additional student has been accepted into the half-day program, but the district gets back 50 percent of this money in aid. In-district transportation is also increasing by more than $45K and so are contractual expenses by $14K because more students need translators. However, the overall budget for Curriculum, Personnel and Student Support Services is actually decreasing by 3.15 percent or $54,419, mainly due to less spending on testing materials.
This budget will allow the district to keep class sizes steady, introduce Elementary Science Lab kits, maintain a double block of English in its middle schools and offer two new elective courses in the high school -- Video and Animation, and Principles of Accounting and Personal Finance.
It also covers expenses related to implementing the state-mandated the Common Core Curriculum Standards, data-driven instruction and a computerized testing program that will be required of all districts in 2014-2015.
The superintendent's budget is also decreasing by $1,200 and the Board of Education's budget is remaining flat, but the Business Budget will be $122,558 (4.27 percent) higher. Although auditing, legal and speech services for out-of-district schools are contributing to this increase, the main cost driver is tax certiorari claims, which are increasing from $85K to more than $219K.
Since the district is making its final interest and principal payments on its bond, the debt service portion of the 2013-14 budget will be going down 55 percent to $701,568. On the other hand, the interfund transfers category will increase by roughly $11K, because more students are requiring special aid.
The next budget workshop will take place on Feb. 27 at Lynbrook High School, and will focus on the 2013-14 budgets for the district's School Buildings, Facilities, Communications, Fine and Performing Arts, Athletics, Special Services and Special Programs. The school board will adopt the budget on March 6 and residents will vote on it on May 21.
What do you think of the budget figures presented by Lynbrook school officials so far?