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.