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Proposed Budget Preserves, Adds Programs

A final budget hearing was held last week at Finley Middle School to go over the details of the proposed 2013-14 budget by the Glen Cove Board of Education. If adopted, taxpayers can expect a 2.42 percent tax levy increase, which is below the allowable tax levy cap increase of 3.53 percent.


The district’s proposed $76,670,632 budget preserves all current programs in the schools. It also includes the implementation of “the wheel” at the middle school and orchestra at the high school, an additional assistant principal at the middle school, an addition of $200,000 in security upgrades, $400,000 for a boiler at Landing Elementary and a middle school honors program.


The budget reductions total more than $2.5 million, including an increase of $750,000 in state aid. Deputy Superintendent Kevin Wurtz discussed all of the key points in the recommended budget, which includes the following budget cuts: $650,000 by restructuring transportation services, resulting in a ten minute shift in start and end times at some of the schools; deletion of tax certiorari reserve appropriation and worker’s compensation reserve appropriation from rollover budget, each in the amount of $450,000; reduction in special education tuition in the amount of $460,000, which was over budgeted in the initial rollover budget; the loss of a social worker position totaling $153,000; and reducing miscellaneous supplies in the schools for a savings of $57,000. An additional $15,000 savings comes from hiring a part-time sign language interpreter directly, without going through an agency. 


Wurtz explained that the estimated average increase for a residential taxpayer is $157 for the year, or $13.08 per month. If the budget is not approved, there will be a second vote in June, either on the same or an amended budget. If it is not approved on the second vote, the district’s tax levy will be frozen at the current (2012-13) level. What that means is that an additional $1,503,816 in reductions would have to be made.


The implementation of orchestra at the high school means the students need a room to practice in. Several people raised questions about the cost and the space chosen for the program. It has been decided that the wood shop room will be converted, which Board President Joel Sunshine said would be a “one time expenditure.” He explained that the district first began offering the program to third-graders six years ago, so this is the first group that will be in the high school. He noted, “60 percent of third-graders play a string instrument...we decided as a district that it is a worthwhile program.”


Karen Ferguson asked the board to reconsider the decision to cut the social worker position. “Scheduling takes up a good part of the day for a guidance counselor,” she said, noting that means less time to focus on the needs of the students, which is the role a social worker has in the schools.


Alison Gasparello asked what happened to the alternative middle school plan, which was a big focus of the board last year, to which Sunshine explained that since the program was proposed by the former middle school principal and the former assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, and since it was also an expensive program, they decided to not move forward for the current school year.


“We still think it’s important and the board will most likely look at it with the administration in the next two months,” said Sunshine. 


The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, May 21. Polling places include Landing Elementary School, Glen Cove Boys & Girls Club, Finley Middle School and Connolly Elementary School.