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Malverne Board of Education Adopts 2012-13 Budget

Proposed $48.5 million budget comes in under tax cap with 2.44 percent levy increase.

The Malverne school board unanimously adopted the proposed budget for the 2012-2013 school year that the administration presented Tuesday night.

Parents, teachers and other residents filled the library at for the April 17 meeting to find out how the budget would affect the district's programs, staff and taxes.

The total budget for the 2012-2013 school year is $48,597,767, which Business Administrator Thomas McDaid explained is an increase of $1,085,656, or 2.29 percent, compared to the 2011-2012 budget. According to McDaid, this is the lowest percentage increase in 14 years.

The budget carries a tax levy increase of $918,995, or 2.44 percent, which actually stays under the tax cap imposed by New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo's new law. Therefore, only a majority (50 percent + 1) of voters would need to support it rather than a super-majority.

A resident with a home valued at $343,536, the average for the district, would see their school taxes go up by $178 for the year, if their assessment stayed the same. Someone with a $500,000 home assessment, assuming it remained unchanged, would see their annual bill go up by $259.

The adopted budget eliminates all summer school programs with the exception of Regents Prep. (Summer band was added back in at the last minute, and summer recreation will be offered, provided that at least 100 residents sign-up and agree to pay for its costs, which total $110,800, making the program self-sustaining.)

The budget also eliminates all non-instructional field trips (some instructional ones will still exist) including the $35,000 sixth grade trip to Frost Valley. It reduces art, music and library in the elementary schools, music lessons, K-12 co-curricular activities and clubs, athletic programs for Grades 7-12, BOCES services and non-mandated elective courses in the high school, which will be based on enrollment.

While high school and middle school intramural programs will be eliminated completely, the programs will still be offered at Maurice W. Downing and Davison Avenue elementary schools, but will be reduced to only one per semester.

In terms of staff, the budget cuts two administrative positions, two custodial staff, two security positions and six Full Time Equivalent (FTE) teaching positions. This is down from the 14.5 FTEs that were to be cut under the first budget the district  Also, two of these six positions will be saved because two teachers have opted to retire at the end of the school year. They are Dan Gibbons, a special education teacher at the high school, and Kyra Freed, a science teacher at the middle school. Their retirements were announced at the board meeting, along with the district's science chair, Marietta Cleckley and athletics director, Brenda White. 

Assistant Superintendent Richard Banyon explained that the district would consolidate the Science chair and Math chair person into one position, and the English Language Arts chair position will be combined with the Social Studies chair. "Many school districts in our area have done this,”  he said.

The remaining four FTEs that will need to be cut will include a full-time psychologist and then reductions in part-time positions in the areas of ELA, Social Studies, Health and Phys. Ed., Art, Music, Science and Library. There will be a slight increase in part-time faculty in the areas of Foreign Language and Business due to an increased need.

The budget cuts will result in an increase in class sizes throughout the district, however, Banyon said that the average class size would be around 22 to 23 students.

McDaid explained that there were two main reasons why the cuts in the adopted budget were not as severe as the ones presented at the Feb. 14 meeting. A change in the way the state was calculating Malverne's tax cap limit, mainly its exemptions, resulted in the district being able to raise the levy an additional $400,000. The second big factor was the Malverne received earlier this month as result of efforts by its local representatives, bringing the total up to $231,286. The district also tapped into $200,000 of its reserves, which helped to cover some of $303,000 it loss in Federal Jobs Funds that expired last year, maintaining positions that would have been otherwise cut.

Still, parents did express their concerns about the cuts in the final budget, including sports and co-curricular reductions and the exclusion of the Frost Valley field trip. Diana Castro, a parent, voiced her concern the elimination of winter bowling and what it meant for students who do not excel in traditional sports like football and baseball.

Robin Manza, a parent of an elementary student, explained that Frost Valley was a great experience for her when she was student and was upset that her child will not be able to go.

Board Trustee Gina Genti understood how Manza felt, but along with other members of the board, she stated that she believed the money should go toward educational and instructional use in the school. That said, Genti explained that parents may be able to raise the funds for the trip independently it they choose to.

You can view video footage of the April 17 meeting above, along with the full PowerPoint budget presentation, which is located under the PDFs section.

Residents will be able to vote on the adopted budget on May 15 from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Howard T. Herber Middle School. If they are not already registered to vote, they can do so on May 10 at Malverne High School between 8:30 am and 11:30 am or from 11:30 am to 3:30 pm at the Administration Building.  

What do you think of the adopted budget? Tell us in the comments space below.

Tara Conry April 19, 2012 at 07:25 PM
Gina, Tom has been a tremendous help throughout the budget development process. If residents still have questions about anything mentioned in the article or that we might have left out, please post a question here and we will track down the information for you.
Concerned Resident April 19, 2012 at 11:50 PM
Can you clarify whether the Frost Valley trip will be funded by the district or paid for by the parents?? Parents pay for a trip like this in other districts. Taxpayers should not foot the bill. Between the expense of the trip and all the staff that go it is foolish. My children did not go and they sat in school with no work and none of their classes to go to as did many other students. Not acceptable! Also can you clarify the cut of two administrators? Are these the science chair and athletic director positions? If so, don't you have to replace the athletic director?
R P April 20, 2012 at 03:45 AM
It is sad and unfortunate when anyone loses their job. However many of the taxpayers who pay this bill have lost their jobs also. It is amazing how people who are spending the money of others can expand their spending when the economy has contracted. Even when they get additional aid, instead of using the additional funds mentioned to hold the budget down, instead with a sigh of relief they raise it more than originally cut. Cuts ARE necessary. Yes the cuts may seem drastic but like Washington, the country is broke, unemployment is very high, foreclosures are still ongoing and those still employed have no idea of the real world. It is very easy to push numbers around on paper when you are not experiencing the pain in the community. And those average figures used for home values are not what the assessors have for most residents as they are still valuing properties at a pie-in-the-sky number. AND if they lower the values they just raise the mil rate!!! I know the Bd will get a minimum increase even if this budget is rejected. However the Bd, and our governments (plural) just don't get it. No Jobs = NO money to pay these budgets/taxes without forcing more people out of their homes. So while student programs may be curtailed and a few more join the unemployed, a few more homes will be lost as well. But you will keep on collecting your overstuffed salaries and raising budgets.
Tara Conry April 20, 2012 at 03:46 AM
The Frost Valley is definitely out of the budget this year. The administrative positions are department chairs. I will get an answer from the district tomorrow regarding the A.D. position.
Tara Conry April 20, 2012 at 05:29 PM
Ok here is the information regarding the 2 administrative positions. This refers to the Science Chair position (Marietta Cleckley is retiring and will not be replaced) and the English Language Chair position (The district allocated money is last year's budget for this, but never found someone to fill this position. It will now be eliminated.) The current Math Chair will be asked to also be the Science Chair, and the current Social Studies Chair will be asked to Chair ELA also. The district will be searching for someone to fill the Athletic Director position since Brenda White is retiring.


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