Malverne School District Faces $2M Budget Gap

District could be forced to cut programs and personnel as it crafts 2013-14 budget.

The Malverne School District may have to cut programs and personnel in order to create a budget for 2013-2014 that pays for all mandated services and employee benefits while remaining under the tax cap.

At Wednesday's poorly attended budget development forum, school officials revealed preliminary numbers, shared the results of an online survey, and explained the challenges facing the district this year.

“The numbers are fairly heavy. They are devastating in terms of what we have to do to maintain our current academic programs and efforts for the children of this district,” Schools Superintendent James Hunderfund told the Board of Education and the few residents seated in the mostly empty Herber Middle School auditorium.

As a starting point, Malverne Business Administrator Thomas McDaid calculated the roll-over budget for 2013-2014 by taking the cost of all existing programs, personnel, and other fixed expenses, rolling them over and accounting for projected increases in 2013-2014. That figure came to $52,220,638, more than $3.6 million (7.45 percent) higher than the current school budget, with about 80 percent allocated to instruction and benefits.

About half of the $3.6 million increase stems from dramatic spikes in pension contributions, health insurance costs and tax certiorari, three areas the district has no control over.

A nearly 40 percent increase in the amount New York State requires the district to contribute to its Teachers Retirement System is largely responsible for the $1.6 million increase in employee benefits. For 2013-2014, the district has to pay about $800,000 to TRS and $180,000 the state’s Employee Retirement System.

Health insurance is also to blame. The district is expected to pay 14 percent more for health insurance for its employees, an additional $1,000 for every staff member with an individual plan and an extra $2,000 for those with family plans.

Costs related to “Instruction,” everything from teachers’ salaries to supplies, are going up by just over $1 million, and “General Support” by around $200,000.

On a positive note, the district saw a $7,000 reduction, mainly due to modifying its lunch program, and transportation costs continue to go down, this year by roughly $28,000, as a result of the district’s purchase of a small fleet of buses a few years ago.

What does all this mean?

Under the tax cap, the tax levy -- the total amount the district collects from taxpayers – can only increase by a maximum of $646,685, not counting exemptions, for 2013-2014.

That means between now and April 9, when the board adopts the budget, Malverne needs to cut anywhere from $1.7 million to $2.1 million from its roll-over budget. The exact figures could fluctuate as the district gets a better idea of how much revenue and aid it will have to work with next year, but regardless, the challenges it faces will not change very much.

Officials braced the public for possible personnel cuts across the board, which would result in larger class sizes, and the elimination of non-mandated services and programs including art and music in some grades. The district could also restructure custodial and security services, renegotiate contracts, suspend all non-voter-approved facilities improvements, and reduce non-mandated curriculum development, high school electives, field trips, athletic teams and after-school activities.

To guide them in making these difficult decisions, district officials have been collecting feedback from residents through an online survey (see slideshow for results) and will continue to take suggestions through upcoming budget forums. The next time the budget will be discussed with the public is at the Jan. 8 board meeting.

“Not everything is going to be able to stay,” McDaid said. “That's why it’s very important to have your voices heard to be able to help mold this budget.”

Click through the slideshow (under the PDFs section) to view the presentation from the Dec. 19 meeting. To fill out the district's budget survey, click here.

Jason December 21, 2012 at 01:08 AM
What a surprise......... Unrealistic,unfunded salaries pensions and perks. Once again how stupid are these legislators.
Gerald Barr December 21, 2012 at 01:39 AM
$375,000 in legal fees to remove a board member because of a personal vendetta, no mention of administrative cuts, administrative salary increases last year during austere times, embarassingly inept behavior in public, and this guy still has his job? Residents should be in the streets demanding the removal of this board and administration and reclaiming their children's future. Show me another district in more turmoil and I'll show you a community in flames.
Concerned Resident December 21, 2012 at 03:21 AM
The only cuts mentioned here are the ones that affect the students. I think that the community has made it clear that the cuts must come from the top!! Malverne has become a circus. The administrators take care of themselves with stipends and raises. Spiro has proven over and over that he is not competent for this job. The roof disaster, the shoty construction, hiring his own from another district, the mistreatment of staff and residents and hiring the husband of your stand in while you are serving as the contractor for the construction is just not acceptable. When the threat of losing his job is a possibility he threatens a lawsuit against a board member. The time has come to demand the resignation of Hunderfund, Spiro, and the board. Bullying is not tolerated and it is time that it is dealt with legally. If this school district wants the community to support the budgets and the staff to support the administration there must be drasttic change. There is too much shady business going in and too many incompetent people making way to much money in this tiny district.
Malverne resident December 21, 2012 at 01:04 PM
The inmates are truly running the asylum in Malverne. The administration is bllindly arrogant and milking our residents of our hard earned dollars. But don't dare complain-you'll be branded a liar or a racist if you do!!!
S.M. December 21, 2012 at 01:53 PM
Time to move.
Anonymous December 21, 2012 at 01:55 PM
I agree. If you put someone in charge of two Departments and they can't even handle one, they should go. Spiro is still there cause he is best friends with the Superintent. No time for favors. It's time for the children and their education. Come on fellow residents let's take back our District.
Theresa M. December 21, 2012 at 01:56 PM
All schools will be facing the same economic decisions, as most families are within their own home budget. However in our district the cuts keep coming at the cost to our children and their education. And while the Board and their “Professionals” say they want us to help mold the budget everyone knows that’s a lie. Poor construction, an almost 300k expense of a roof replacement when there was a warranty, costly lawyer fees and let’s not forget the raises implemented to the administrators AFTER an approved budget. Until the entire Board and the administrators who actually run the Board as seen in the last video taken by Patch are completely removed nothing will get done as the taxpayers of Malverne School District would like. I could go on and on about this but what’s the point.
Gabe End December 21, 2012 at 03:05 PM
things wont change until the budget and taxes exceed all neighboring districts by some kind of pain threshold. Right now, taxes are high but not so much higher than other towns. It is known fact that most people from Malverne have written off the schools. They dont use them and will never use them with these circus clowns in charge. So - as long as taxes remain are low enough, no one cares what really happens in the district. What better proof is there of that than the outrageous fact that the Superintendent of a district with less than 1,800 kids is making over half a million dollars a year. Tell me that isn't a sure sign that most people are totally checked out about what's going on. Basically no one cares if it goes to blazes, as long as costs stay around what the always are, and private school options remain available. Such a waste of money. So much savings could be realized with district consolidation, not to mention the improvement in education and environment. A combined East Rockaway, Malverne, Lynbrook and WH would be a scholastic powerhouse and envy of districts nationwide. Academics, sports, etc. But that will never happen.
Dolores December 21, 2012 at 03:26 PM
SPiro is there because he falls in for the superintendent. Take notice of how all the phone calls to residents come from Spiro and not Banyon even the ones for educational events. That's because Banyon won't compromise his integrity to Hunderfund. Banyon will retire and Hunderfund will suggest Spiro take over as Asst. Super for Curriculum. He was just made an evaluator of the teachers even tho he has no experience in education. It was Spiros good friend Janice, the woman that filled in for him when he was on leave that was the Project Manager for Sigma Construction, the contracting company that did the Malverne project. The Malverne BoE is okay with that arrangement. Malverne is in the worst shape it's ever been ACADEMICALLY AND ORGANIZATIONALLY. Hunderfund has surrounded himself with people that do his dirty work including McDaid and Brown, Bottita and Taylor.
Arena December 21, 2012 at 08:35 PM
To SM Your absolutely right it is time to move
Gerald Barr December 22, 2012 at 01:45 AM
So you saddled us with a $14.2M bond that now needs servicing and you want to make more cuts to a system of education that can only be described as skeletal. You deliberately held a critical budgetary meeting the week of Christmas to the tune of 5, count ‘em, 5 attendees – the public is disgusted – so you could continue your scheming unhindered. You blame teacher health plans as the drain on the budget when the truth is; teachers have been contributing more to their health plans for a number of years. You have reduced state-mandated teacher assistants and inclusion teachers to the detriment of our students with higher numbers in classes. Are you in compliance with state mandates? I doubt it. Our children are not getting a well-rounded education and cannot compete for entry to top schools or robust scholarships because of your mediocre standards that put so many on your “honor rolls”. 3 superintendents of a 1600-student district making ¾ million dollars, 1 ineffective principal and 2 assistants at the high school of “600” students, with their salaries totaling ½ million. Congrats. You have single-handedly destroyed our district. I’m officially leaving this district.
Jason December 22, 2012 at 06:56 PM
Would our residents be willing to declare bankruptcy and start again w/ the funds we have available? I certainly would. It's ultimately going to happen everywhere on L.I
Anna December 23, 2012 at 03:45 AM
"Officials braced the public for possible personnel cuts across the board..." Good, let's start with central administration.
Bill Frank December 24, 2012 at 03:41 AM
I agree with all the comments, it is time for a change! Let's start with a long time board member like Gina Genti. She was on the board when all four previous central office administrators left. She was on the board when the current crew was hired. Now she is trying to have them removed. Let's begin by voting Gina Genti off the board. She is a cancer!!!!
joe bertone January 09, 2013 at 01:41 PM
thats right unfortunate for the residents
joe bertone January 09, 2013 at 01:43 PM
i think you should look into spiro's link with sigma construction???????
joe bertone January 09, 2013 at 01:59 PM
there will be more legal fees when the district with there unfounded claims against the contractor that they claimed walked away in the middle of the project and was convinced to return
Ivan Ivanovich January 09, 2013 at 11:50 PM
I thought the school board negotiates the teacher contracts with the union, and now they say they have no control over the increases in pension and health cost increases, I would not expect any of these fools to know the word accountability, but once I would like to see someone in the "press" ask a question . Anyway the astro turf looks nice
Ivan Ivanovich January 09, 2013 at 11:52 PM
Is it a coincidence that the astro turf cost 2million ? Good job super


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