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School Board Begins Budget Talks

Deputy superintendent Kevin Wurtz provided first official budget projections.

The Glen Cove Board of Education was presented with a hypothetical 2013-2014 budget Monday night as deputy superintendent Kevin Wurtz outlined major increases in lieu of state aid.

A rollover budget that includes all current district programs and employees and factors in no future increases in revenue would represent a $3 million increase, which would translate to a 4.87 percent tax levy increase.

Wurtz explained that revenue increases will undoubtedly offset those numbers, and board president Joel Sunshine stressed that this first review of the projected budget should not be understood to represent the district's plan.

Dismissing projected revenue and maximizing projected cost increases is the best approach to constructing a responsible budget, Wurtz said, and noted that the district's budget has passed each year since it last failed seven years ago, and has done that with the lowest tax levy increase in Nassau County.

The Teachers Retirement System accounts for the largest single cost increase, with a projected $1.6 million increase from the current year.

Real property tax refunds account for $450,000, which was reduced to zero for this year's budget with the district's use of reserve funds.

Superintendent Joseph Laria said projections being considered extend as much as 18 months into the future and are subject to change. Wurtz said the figures will be recalculated once the district learns what state aid it will receive.

Busing consolidation was mentioned as one possible area of significant savings. Some schoolbuses travel with between 30 and 40 percent of seats empty, Wurtz said. Cutting one bus would save the district $70,000 in transportation costs and $10,000 in fuel costs annually.

"Think if that were five buses," Wurtz said.

The deputy superintendent was applauded by all in attendance at the end of his presentation.

Laria prefaced the start of the process with a word of caution.

"A school district is dealing with both emotionally charged issues -- money and children. Emotions can reach a fevered pitch," he said.

He reminded those in attendance that the district's financial challenges reflect the woes of the entire nation. 

"That scarcity is a hardship that we share with our neighbors and collegues, not a wound we inflict," said Laria.

He expressed faith in the community's ability to weather the coming discussions, noting disruptive antics which have ended public meetings and necessitated forced removals of attendees in other districts he has served during his career.

"I have walked away from past Glen Cove discussions with enormous respect for this community's civility and dignity," Laria said.

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Gene January 08, 2013 at 01:33 PM
Has anyone ever seen Groundhog Day? We are at that point again with the School Budget. A $3M increase with over half of that ($1.6M) coming from teachers retirement fund. It is time for someone to do a line item analysis and make the cuts necessary to close the budget. If Busing consolidation is considered a significant savings we are going to need to eliminate approx. 38 buses at 80K each to close the $3M gap. These are tough times and we people who are willing and capable to make tough decisions. At least Bill Murray in Groundhog day finally figured it out.
lookyloo January 08, 2013 at 03:09 PM
Bend over tax payers, we are getting the same crappy school district and the usual tax hike. Is this ever going to end? I agree, Groundhog day all over again.
Micah Danney (Editor) January 08, 2013 at 04:30 PM
The $3 million figure is in advance of state aid and revenue, it is not the gap the district will need to close.
Brooke D January 08, 2013 at 06:50 PM
Here's a question. How does this get fixed? God knows that re-routing the buses isn't going to solve anything. It's time for someone to really address these problems and not deflect. With all of the foreclosures in Glen Cove and the fact that homes cannot sell because the property values cannot support mortgage values it's only getting worse and with so many homes currently and about to be banked owned who's going to cover that 'revenue' shortage? GC schools are just not competitive (Im not saying that they're not good or people arent trying) and like it or not they are not a draw for young families. Who in their right mind would move here when GC schools have a college readiness score of 29.7 v 73.7 in Locust Valley and 51.3 at North Shore which are on either side of us. It might be time to focus on addressing the actual problem and not the motor pool. Im honestly curious what people's thoughts are on fixing this ... not just ranting about it.
Tom Terrific January 09, 2013 at 11:42 AM
Brooke D makes a very good point in her last sentence. So, I'll give some of my thoughts on the matter. I'm a strong believer in public education -- always have been -- however, the money tree does not grow to the sky indefinitely. School taxes are the highest portion of our property taxes (approx. 60% of the total), and continue to claim an increasing amount each and every year. It can't continue - at least in districts that share the economic demographics of Glen Cove. On the school district's end of it, sacrifices are going to be needed; taxpayers have sacrificed enough. The ultimate goal is to make these necessary cuts with the least impact to the students. I didn't say 'no impact'; I said 'least impact.' The way the school districts are geographically situated and currently structured, we are NEVER going to be a Locust Valley, North Shore, or Jericho. Get it out of your minds, folks! Come back to reality. It ain't gonna happen. However, that's not to say that we can't be a GOOD district. We can be! It's just going to have to be accomplished with less resources because the people in our community HAVE LESS RESOURCES. And just one more thing that needs to be said. People without children - married, single, partnered; etc. - also buy houses. If houses become a buying opportunity in Glen Cove, they will be sold regardless of the school district.
Gene January 09, 2013 at 12:53 PM
Solution, get in the room with the teachers union and explain to them that the current contract is null and void. The next step is to explain to them that the district can only afford X dollars to maintain a flat year to year budget. To be fair to all teachers the reduction in pay/benefits would be done over a three year period as to not impact the families of the teachers. Once the budget is closed all future pay increases will be based on affordability and school results (By the way that’s the way it works in the real world). Next stop is administrators and the same discussion. If anyone doesn’t like the plan they can go look for work elsewhere (By the way that’s the way it works in the real world). The next day we have an open meeting with all families and explain to them that the teachers and administrators have agreed to help Glen Cove balance the budget but they can’t do it alone. Effective next budget school taxes will be for education only (Reading, Writing and Arithmetic). All other school activities (Sports, Art, Music, Drivers Education etc..) will be fee based and will be the responsibility of the parents of the participants. This may cause an uproar but if these activities are important the community/family can find a way to raise funds to assist those who may not have the means.
Gene January 09, 2013 at 12:54 PM
Create a three tier tax system for home owners. 1) Families who have never sent children to the school district 2) Families currently using school district 3) Families who have graduated children from the school district. Tier one pays a base school tax Tier 2 and 3 pay all increases with tier 2 paying more based on children in the district. Anyone who owns a home and rents to families pay taxes based on tier system.
Romy Bennett January 10, 2013 at 01:47 AM
And the teachers that live in the community and send their children to school here should pay their taxes and mortgage and pay for art music and sports with their reduced salaries. Right gene?
Gene January 10, 2013 at 12:18 PM
Glen Cove Girl, Right.

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