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Glen Cove Schools Super Warns Of Tough Budget Decisions

Rianna: Glen Cove schools overspent by over $2 million last year, need to look at "every cost saving option" in 2014-15.

Glen Cove Schools Superintendent Maria L. Rianna said the district is in financial straights and warned of tough decisions in the coming months at a preliminary 2014-15 budget forum on Jan. 8. 

The school district must look at every cost saving option, she said, in order to maintain and enhance school programs. 

"We're looking at everything from legal fees to classroom size to transportation to supplies to how we're buying software and services," said Rianna, who encouraged people to come forward with insight and suggestions. "We spent significantly more than we budgeted for last year. Significantly more..."

The district exceeded the 2013-2014 budget by over $2 million, said Rianna, "on almost everything." Unbudgeted expenditures included legal fees on union negotiations, special education, and the test coaching investigation as well as tax certiorari of over $1 million. 

Assistant Superintendent Victoria Galante said the money to pay the certs was taken out of an accrued liability account, not the reserve. 

Only $1 was budgeted in the 2013-2014 budget as a way to hold the line, a controversial decision at the time. At the Jan. 8 meeting, board members seemed to agree to factor tax certs in the coming year's budget which Gallante estimated to be at least $1.9 million.

The district is expecting increases in mandated expenses this year in health insurance (2 percent), TRS (17.25-17.75 percent), ERS (20.1 percent) and contractual obligations. 

Overall, the district is expecting a $2,988,131 increase in expenditures. With an estimated allowable tax levy increase of $1,084,784, that leaves them to find ways to cover the $1,903,347 difference. 

The full preliminary budget presentation from Jan. 8's forum is available on the Glen Cove School District website here

The next Board of Education Business Meeting will be held on Jan. 27 at Landing School, 7:30 p.m.
Gary B January 17, 2014 at 03:37 AM
Why am I not surprised.
Mark666 January 17, 2014 at 04:19 AM
I wonder if going to Common Core has anything to do with this?
Tom Terrific January 17, 2014 at 07:04 AM
I'm not surprised and I have absolutely no sympathy for the district's fiscal situation. Is that politically incorrect for me to say? Quite frankly, I don't give a rat's arse. You take a good chunk of my household savings each and every year despite my not using the resource in any way. I do recognize an obligation to provide for an educated citizenry, but not an outsized obligation. And that's what the school taxes have become. My number one concern regarding the budget vote in May will be that the district stays within the limits of the property tax cap. And that's it.
cynthia kouril January 17, 2014 at 07:45 AM
The cost of the investigation was ridiculous. The investigation dragged on too long and was not transparent. That whole thing was bungled. The tax cert is the fault of the Assessor's Office which is failing to do yearly re-assessments b/c there isn't a certified assessor in the office, just some hack of Mangano's who does not possess the legally required credentials. So, the tax cert problem will re-occur every year until we get a real Assessor.
BeachGal January 17, 2014 at 08:38 AM
According to this article the meeting was on January 8th and yet Patch did not publish this "breaking news" story until January 16th. I thought the purpose of an online news outlet was to have the news quickly?
Gene January 17, 2014 at 09:03 AM
In the real world if you overspend in X you need to reduce in Y. In the real world you manage a budget at a line item level on a monthly basis and identify issues and take proactive actions to resolve. Perhaps the school district shouldn't have got involved with the teacher cheating investigation. Perhaps the district shouldn't have implemented the MS "Wheel", filled a MS guidance counselor position, hired a MS assistant principal, hired 2 FTE ESL teachers, restore Boces etc... I'd like to know what the real savings were on the 2013-14 budget efficiencies and controls? They called out approx 2M. Any clear thinking tax payer in Glen Cove or anywhere in New York State has to realize the funding methodology for schools is broken. If you don't agree read Newsday today. Welcome to Groundhog day, only problem this is not funny its rather alarming.
Mike Elks January 17, 2014 at 10:11 AM
Refreshing to see that a Supt. has spoken out about this ever present problem. How many people who sit in Bd. meetings actually understand the budgetary process or what's being proposed? Few every speak out probably because they don't want to appear stupid. So these clowns on the Bd. just keep adding stuff and passing stuff without too much interference from the audience. Then you have the low voter turnout when it comes to budgets and school board members. If the public doesn't care about out of control spending, this board will do just that because they can. BTW, there is no correlation between money thrown at a school district and the academic achievement of the student. That fact has been made clear many times and yet school boards throughout the country keep asking for more shekels.
cc January 17, 2014 at 04:02 PM
Maybe someone should ask SUNSHINE WHAT HAPPENED???? He jumped ship.
Warren Haynes January 17, 2014 at 09:27 PM
That's really interesting Phil E
Warren Haynes January 17, 2014 at 09:33 PM
Do all the Kevin Wurtz supporters still think he was wonderful and shouldn't have been fired? This district has many problems that all end in money being wasted. I can tell you with great certainty that there are a lot of people in this district from the top on down that do not do their jobs. Since nobody supervises them well enough to know that they don't do their jobs, the district fools think that the problem is too much work and not enough staff so.....they hire more staff. Talk about throwing money at the problem!
Phil E. January 18, 2014 at 11:11 AM
As a previous GC BOE Trustee, it was pretty easy to see this coming. I tried but was shot down every time. Between a slew of dishonest budgets and now the cheating scandal, one wonders what kind o enterprise is this. To make matters even worse, they don't even test for drug users before they hire them, even thought perfectly legal. Maybe Rianna can make a difference...we will see. Phil Enright - phile123@aol.com
Mike Elks January 18, 2014 at 12:45 PM
Kevin Wirtz didn't make policy. He carried it out. It was up to the Bd. to consider the consequences of over spending. It looks like they're drunk on their own incompetence. When you have a Bd. intimidated by parents who want everything and want it now with a teachers union that refuses to giveback, and they make up most of those who vote on these matters, you have a major problem. When you have a Bd. president who still has kids in the system, do you really think her objective is to cut programs? Seriously? Show up at meetings. That's one way of getting a handle on this. The other is to vote.
Pazzo January 18, 2014 at 01:42 PM
When I read this headline I instinctively felt for my wallet. Maybe the solution to the problem is to raise school taxes again.
Mark666 January 18, 2014 at 01:55 PM
Pazzo, I'll assume you are being VERY VERY sarcastic about that.
Warren Haynes January 18, 2014 at 05:06 PM
Yes Mike, Kevin Wurtz did not make the policy, he only carried it out. However, his job was to oversee the daily expenditures, supervise the people who paid for goods and services used by the district only if the goods were delivered and the services were rendered and make sure that money owed to the district was received. Unfortunately, this wasn't being done properly. The school district recently staggered the school start times to save on transportation costs that have gotten out of control for several reasons. Some of the reasons have nothing to do with the district such as fuel and insurance, but others are directly related to what you said Mike. The board and administration are very easily intimidated by people who scream and yell and make demands that are utterly unreasonable.
Phil E. January 18, 2014 at 05:12 PM
Start with a 10% cut all administrator salaries and work your way down through every budget line. If anyone thinks there isn't real saving buried in the buget, they are whistling dixie.
Gene January 18, 2014 at 05:48 PM
Phil that is a great start.
Suzanne Anderson January 18, 2014 at 10:06 PM
Kevin Wurtz was here for 10 years. The overspending happened last year during the "perfect storm" of leadership...administration and BOE. Members of the public, including myself, questioned the budget many times. Maybe the members of the BOE should have listened more to the public instead of instead of administration and BOE leadership. GC needs to be aware, and yes, attend meetings and know EXACTLY who is representing you. It's an awful lot of money we trust 7 elected people to watch for us. Any Joe Shmo would know we didn't have the funds to add administrators, the wheel, orchestra room, bonding tax certs, investigation, etc..... It was Kevin Wurtz who began the process of saving transportation costs!!!
cc January 19, 2014 at 08:12 AM
Where is SUNSHINE?
Warren Haynes January 19, 2014 at 10:35 AM
Suzanne, overspending has happened for years. Last year might have been especially out of control, but overspending has happened many times. If this was something we never dealt with before, we would not have seen people laid off nor would our taxes gone up so much, while programs are being cut. Stop just focusing on the last administration because although it certainly was not been a great one, it hardly was the first one to disappoint us. Unfortunately we have had a revolving door of administrators and board members who did not do right by the community and children. We know of your hatred for the past administration, but let us focus on the current one and hope that like in the past, this one is not just more of the same old thing! As far as Kevin Wurtz, he was head of the business office and of course overspending isn't 100 percent his fault, but you can't ignore his role just because he was nice and always made sure your PTA had what it needed. Wake up people and get your heads out of the sand! There is soooooooo much waste in this district.
TJ Eckleburg January 19, 2014 at 10:36 AM
In addition to the regular school taxes, they also have a Glen Cove School tax on my Verizon wireless bill. It's like the MTA, a bottomless money pit.
Phil E. January 19, 2014 at 11:57 AM
How about giving Rianna a MANDATE to fix this thing, and let the chips fall where they may. Open up the contracts that the boe sigened with the steps and all the other perks. Let the parents put the squeeze on. Either they give back or we cut programs.. Lets see if its really about the kids..
Suzanne Anderson January 19, 2014 at 01:06 PM
Warren, Do you know me? Do you attend BOE meetings? I do not recall mentioning the PTA in my post. Why are you demonizing the PTA? Doesn't every parent want a safe secure learning environment for their child? And yes, I do agree with you that proper supervision has been a problem for a while. As residents we should pay attention to who is in charge and who we elect and re-elect to the BOE.
Mike Elks January 19, 2014 at 01:56 PM
My wife and I attend as many BOE meetings we can, although not usually together. We talk about it afterwards. A constant in these meetings is the word "spend". Rarely did we hear the word, "cut". A lalapalooza was when some parents got up to speak about the need for a physical weight room in the high school. What exists now isn't up to standards. It would need a lot of money to ensure that high school kids got the best "weight room" GC money could buy. This seemed ridiculous since we were already straining under the 2% cap. Then we heard about the need for a separate "orchestra room". It would require a lot of money, yours and mine to be exact. Then someone pointed out that we already have a room in either the high school or middle that is large and unused. This is how stupid, incompetent and lazy these board members are. They were preparing to spend money on something that already existed. If that doesn't tell you about the seriousness of this group, nothing will.
Warren Haynes January 19, 2014 at 02:20 PM
Suzanne it seems that you have missed my point. I am not speaking out against PTA. I am speaking about people keeping their heads in the sand about what really goes on because they get what they want from the district and don't really want to know what else is going on. This was just echoed in Mike's post about people speaking up for the weight room and orchestra room while the district is struggling to stay within the cap and meet all of the obligations it has. First of all, someone needs to go line by line, office by office to make sure that every person is actually doing his or her job and that there is no redundancy. Next, every expenditure for goods and services needs to be reviewed. Any organization, whether private or public would do this before making any financial decisions. Get rid of the dead weight people and the waste before you ask anyone in this community to fork over any additional taxes. Especially when we have the test scores we have. Where does the money go?
Mike Elks January 19, 2014 at 11:28 PM
I can remember a meeting when the Bd. was voting on hiring a new asst. principal for one of the schools. This was a position that hadn't been filled for some time, I'm thinking maybe 3-5 years, but I may be wrong on the number. Important point is,that position was unfilled , the school in question was functioning without serious problems, yet they voted to hire someone at a salary of over $150,000 not counting benefits. The Bd. listened to our complaints, made very few comments except to say, and you really won't believe this one...the school needed a backup for when the principal was off premise, (you can't make this crap up!). They voted unanimously to hire the new asst. principal. When you have an arrogant, incompetent school board and an audience made up of primarily special interests, this is the kind of thinking and voting you get. Nothing will change until and unless GC residents wake up and start questioning the Bd.
Warren Haynes January 20, 2014 at 04:19 PM
So true Mike. We need to advocate for our children, our community, our property values and our wallets. This district goes unchecked. The more the administration and board get away with, the more they try to get away with next time. People moan and complain to one another, but very few speak up to the principals and other administrators. The administrators are not being questioned or held accountable by the majority of people. This causes problems for the few of us who speak up because we are seen as pains in the rear. The apathy of people is part of the reason our schools are the way they are. As you mention Mike, people have their own special interest, they bully the district to get it and then they don't care about anyone else. Communication and cooperation do not exist in the GC schools.
Phil E. January 20, 2014 at 05:22 PM
Warren andc Mike - hang in there. With staggered terms and other gimmiktry, its almost impossible to get a majority. Actually better to be off the board and speak out instead of being in a straight jacket. How about asking th boe to commit to one vote..take it or leave it. ,,,save 2nd polling, mailing, and printing expense., etc.
Phil E. January 20, 2014 at 06:18 PM
Some trivia: With my kids attending the GC schools, I remeber the entire BOE (5) smoking through the entire meetings. Also the BOE ordereing the arrest of a resident for speaking out..put in cuffs and talen away. Charges were dropped and he elected to the board later on.. Glen Cove, LOng Beach and the rest of small city SDs were not allowed to vote on the school budget. Only after the guy that was arrested along with then Mayor Tom Suozzi headed by bus to Albany did this change. Suozzi made a special presentation to the arrestee for making this all possible at an official city council meeting. Amazing what just a couple of outspoken residents like we have now, can be accomplished,
Rick Smith February 11, 2014 at 02:08 PM
To Warren Haynes and anyone else who thinks negatively about Kevin Wurtz: you are dead wrong. Kevin was the best and brightest we ever had in that position. Unfortunately, he had to take orders from 3 incredibly defective and totally useless Superintendents: Freeley, Aronstein and Laria. They and the easily swayed school board made all the decisions, which were left for Kevin to carry out. If you want to see what we are in for, just notice that they all permitted the Connolly School to run out of oil! Kevin's replacement knows nothing about that, which is part of her job. The fools on the school board, following Laria's and Sunshine's directive even after they were gone bear the responsibility for the oil fiasco and whatever follows.

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