Written by Jill Nossa Thursday, 11 April 2013 00:00
The North Shore Central School District school board adopted a $93.9 million budget for the 2013-14 school year, representing a 3.5 percent tax increase, and a 3.84 percent increase over last year’s total budget.
At an April 4 meeting at the North Shore Middle School cafeteria, board members unanimously voted to adopt the budget recommended by Superintendent Dr. Ed Melnick. Board President Carolyn Mazzu Genovesi was absent from the meeting; Board Vice President Herman Berliner presided over the meeting.
The proposed budget for next year is $93,985,568.58, which is $3,476,340.58 more than the 2012-13 budget. School district residents will vote on the budget May 21.
Dr. Melnick explained that 3.3 percent of the budget increase comes from pensions and health insurance - state-mandated costs - leaving only 0.5 percent for “everything else.” North Shore has been making cuts to the original budget presented to the board in January with the intent to keep staff and programs in tact.
The budget includes $2.5 million reserve funds from the state to offset the potential loss of tax revenue from the decommissioning of the LIPA plant. Dr. Melnick said the money approved is a one-year, fixed amount that cannot be used until LIPA stops paying property taxes to the district. Currently, the district receives $14 million in property taxes from the plant, and Melnick said it is not clear how much will be lost once the ramp-down of the power plant goes into effect. He said the problem is that the state does not do separate assessments of different portions of the property, but suspects the loss will be in the $5-7 million range. He also said he does not expect the LIPA impact to occur in the 2013-14 school year, but stressed that the money must be held in a reserve fund, and at this point, no more money can be expected from the state in the future.
“The board is going to have to continue to rally the community and put pressure on the state,” Dr. Melnick said. “Senator Carl Marcellino and Assemblyman Charles Lavine have been key leaders in our fight,” he added.
During the public comment period, Sarah Jones of Sea Cliff brought up the issue of standardized testing. She said her fourth grade daughter has been “wholly consumed by testing...please make it stop!”
Dr. Melnick expressed his own opinions about standardized testing and said, to make any changes, “It is going to take an uprising from the parents of this country....as a community, we have work ahead of us.”