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West Hempstead School Board Adopts 2012-13 Budget

With a 5-2 vote, the board approves budget with a 2.58 percent tax levy increase.

The West Hempstead school board adopted the proposed 2012-2013 budget presented by administrators Tuesday night, but the decision was not unanimous.

While five out of the seven board members supported the budget, Trustees Cynthia DiMiceli and Rudolf Schindler voted 'No.' 

With the of $172,000 in state aid that local legislators secured for the West Hempstead school district earlier this month, the administration was able to lower the tax levy increase in the proposed budget from presented at the March 27 meeting, to 2.58 percent. The budget-to-budget increase from last year is 1.46 percent.

The adopted budget, which totals $55,188,693, stays under the tax cap limit imposed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's new law, and therefore, only requires a majority of voters to approve it. 

The administration used the additional state aid to make adjustments to the budget based on community feedback. They were able to give a portion "back to the taxpayers" to lower the tax levy increase, and allocate funds for the implementation of a wireless Internet network (to be financed over the next three years), and the restoration of the intramural programs at the middle school and elementary schools and a guidance counselor at the high school.

Some of the board members including DiMiceli and Vincent Trocchia expressed their frustrations with these final changes. 

"We had this whole discussion on how we can do without the guidance counselor," Trocchia said referring to the board's last budget meeting when the administration had proposed eliminating the position, which costs the district $58,000 for salary and another 15 percent for benefits.

"We could survive without the additional counselor," Superintendent John Hogan said, but explained that a number of parents expressed their concerns about eliminating the position because of the "increased emotional needs of the students at the high school."

Hogan said that when the district learned of the extra state aid, they tried to use it to best suit the students and the taxpayers based on the feedback they had received from the community at past meetings.

As a "trade-off" for reinstating the counselor, Hogan also said the administration removed funds that had been allocated for a new marquis sign at the high school and a blacktop project at . After further evaluation they realized these projects were more "wants" than "needs," whereas the blacktop repairs at l were deemed a neccessity and stayed in the budget.

Although Trocchia did not agree with the reinstatement of the guidance counselor and indicated that he preferred this money "go to the taxpayers," he said, "I will still support the budget because 99 percent of it, I agree with."

This was not the case for Schindler and DiMiceli voted against the budget, which prompted outrage from some residents in attendance. When asked by one community member why they did not support the budget, the trustees were willing to explain their reasoning, but Board President Walter Ejnes said it was not the appropriate forum for them to do so.

Earlier in the meeting, DiMiceli, who , had expressed her desire to delay voting on the budget to give the board more time to consider the new recommendations put forth by the administration following the increase in state aid and other issues.

"I value your opinion on this and understand where you are coming for," Ejnes told her. "I get the sense that you think we haven’t spent enough time discussing this budget, but you can say that about every budget ... You’re never going to be 100 percent, they'll always be something you like and don’t like but at some point, the questions have to come to an end and ultimately, you have to make a decision."

Check back for more coverage of the April 17 meeting and other school district news later in the week. You can also visit our topic page for past articles on the 2012-2013 budget.

What do you think of the adopted 2012-2013 school budget? Tell us in the comments space below.

william signorile April 18, 2012 at 12:58 PM
As I missed last evening meeting. I must say that I am glad that we have two board members who are watching out for the people of west hempstead! by voting no ! .As it seems the Old Board Members seem to Lack the Understanding, as to how to INCREASE THE LEVEL OF ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT and keep costs in check ! they seem as always to RUBBER STAMPING the administration wants as numbers games is never ending .! the people of west hempstead the parents and most of all the students have been losing out for over the last 12 yrs is very CLEAR . It is time to put an end to the gross mismanagement. of this board . Failure to make changes in this board will only result in further downside in the level of education in this district.
william signorile April 18, 2012 at 12:59 PM
Here is some information... The old Super for West Hempstead - check this out! She ranks out at the 40th highest retired paid in NY.......t Carol Eisenberg's Pension Name: Carol Eisenberg Location: West Hempstead Place Of Work: West Hempstead Union Free Schools Agency Category: Schools Pension: $186,386.00 State Pension Rank: 40 Retirement Date: 06/30/2007 This pension relative to other pensions (percentile): all New York pensions: 99th lowesthighest all West Hempstead pensions: 99th lowesthighest all Schools pensions: 99th lowesthighest
william signorile April 18, 2012 at 01:02 PM
and the students are in the middle of this game they lose, the parents, lose the people of west hempstead and our future .! this game shell game has to come to an end now !
william signorile April 18, 2012 at 01:13 PM
If this board is re-elected you will see another 10 yrs of downside in the level of education in this district and a increase in taxes of well over another 120% plus as only the employees benefits and the family & friends of most of the old board members seem to benefit !
Cindy S. April 18, 2012 at 02:30 PM
You are mistaken! The NO votes have nothing to do with watching out for the people of West Hempstead. As a West Hempstead resident, I want my elected board members to be able to make a decisions that will benefit this community and the school district in the long term while being mindful of the economic realities we face in the short term. I am an informed voter and have read with interest about the budget development process over the past few months. This board seems to have made a concerted effort to include the community in the budget process and this is reflected in the fact that they have adopted a budget that fall WITHIN the 2% tax cap as required by law. At the same time, this budget seems to support the needs of the children to INCREASE THE LEVEL OF ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT. I think that it is disgraceful that for two years straight DiMiceli and Schindler have voted NO on the budget. They are not looking out for the people of West Hempstead- they are looking out for themselves and whatever agenda they have which I am sure does not take the people of West Hempstead into consideration.
I_Smell_a_Rat April 18, 2012 at 02:43 PM
Are you accusing board members' friend and families of benefiting from their positions? Why are you not disclosing that you are running for school board and this is the reason you are being so accusatory? Why don't you run a clean campaign instead of filling the internet with junk. And aren't you the individual who lobbied hard earlier this year for a school tax exemption for the disabled, which the board granted? Why did you not disclose at that time that you were not looking out for the disabled in WH who would benefit from this but you were looking for the benefit for yourself. So as a result of this board's actions, including the old members, you will actually be getting a tax reduction. I in no way mean to slight you for having a disability as you rightfully deserve any tax exemption coming your way. However, you need to learn a thing or two about the meaning of full disclosure. And stop using the comment section as a stomping ground for your campaign. Leave this space for intellectual discourse on the article at hand and not your rants and raves about old news that was dealt with years ago.
william signorile April 18, 2012 at 04:56 PM
Dear Rat as it so is a fitting name for youself . I stood up for the Senior,s of west hempstead as well as the disabled. were the board failed to do so ! , as I STAND UP FOR THOSE WHO CAN,T , as I have the last 3 yrs
william signorile April 18, 2012 at 04:59 PM
LAST I CHECKED THIS IS THE U.S.A. AND ITS CALLED FREEDOM OF SPEECH,SOMETHING MY FAMILY HAS DEFENDED IN THIS COUNTRY TO PROTECT
Christine Fennes April 19, 2012 at 04:37 AM
I-Smell-a-Rat, thank you! You have many supporters. Thank you for saying what many knew but couldn't disclose. I highly recommend that all voters attend the Candidates' Forum on Wed, May 9th at 8pm in the HS Video Conference Room. Then you can be an informed voter and decide if you want a board member who speaks in caps when they are frustrated with the truth! I'm actually more interested in watching who is running for two seats next year;) I know that we have mostly intelligent voters in our town, just have to get them to the polls!
Sue Reichert April 19, 2012 at 01:31 PM
And what exactly does this information have to do with the 2012-2013 budget?
Manny Martinez April 20, 2012 at 03:59 PM
I have read, seen and heard about the frustration that some residents have towards the 2 Board members that voted no on the WH school budget. When given the opportunity to discuss the matter amongst friends, we seem to start with the obvious and state that both Board members have independent thinking, children in the public school, pay school taxes and both dedicate endless hours volunteering on the Board. The discussion leads to this question…What do you think the two Board members “gain” by voting no on the school budget? To this question…I nor anyone else so far can state or see that they gain anything. We then go to the question…Isn’t it easier to vote yes to the budget than to deal with the community backlash of voting no. To this the answer is obviously yes. Finally, we move to these two questions…First, do you think each Board member has the same exact view of the academic standing of the WHUFSD? The answer is obviously no. Second question…Is it possible that we as residents don’t have all the information that a Board member has when casting their vote? The answer ultimately is…yes. So why would a Board member vote no to the school budget given all of the above?....My best answer is to ask the Board member directly but I can only presume that a Board member would vote no because they have such STRONG reasons to believe that more should be done that they cannot vote yes. To which some friends agree with me…and some do not….
Frank Dyer April 20, 2012 at 05:12 PM
We expect board members to use their best judgment when making important decisions on issues such as budgets. Having sat on many foundation boards in the past 30 years, I know first-hand that decisions need to be made at some point even though you may not be in agreement with everything presented. But when does that ratio tip in favor of a no or yes vote? We elect board officials with the hope that they will have the fortitude to make wise decisions. From what I have been following, the process for this year's budget was an arduous one with many hours spent in sessions analyzing the budget. Board trustees need to consider the following: Does this budget support the district's mission to support and improve student learning? Would further cuts to this budget mean cutting programs that would affect student learning? Does this budget fall within the 2% tax cap as promised by our leaders in Albany? And is this budget one that balances the needs of the district with the needs of the residents? Unless the answers to ALL of these questions were “no”, than DiMiceli and Schindler should have voted “yes”. Did they really find enough faults with the budget that was deserving of a “no” vote 2 years straight? This is not the leadership I expected to see when I voted for them 2 years ago. I expected leaders who would make the right decisions when needed and not put the children and the reputation of our schools and town at risk. I am deeply disappointed with them both.
Just Saying July 03, 2012 at 03:28 AM
Sorry i just learned about this site. Well, better late then never. Hope you give 'em hell next year come election time because you're absolutely right, the days of constant tax in creases and dropping test scores are over. Next year, it'll hopefully be 3 no votes on every budget, and soon, we'll have a majority. Keep up the good work.

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