Written by Pat Eagleson Friday, 26 February 2010 00:00
To begin the Feb. 4 North Shore Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Dr. Edward Melnick emphasized that the Administrator’s Council had agreed to take a half-year salary freeze. Trustees commended the principals and directors in the district for reaching this agreement and clarified to those at the meeting that the administrators settled and gave more concessions than the district originally asked for. Dr Melnick added, “There will be discussions with the various other groups about concessions but salaries are part of collective bargaining and cannot be discussed in public.”
At the meeting, trustees worked vigorously to provide relief in school property taxes for district residents. The board reviewed the portions of the budget pertaining to the Board of Education, Central Administration, Central Services, Plant Maintenance, Insurance/BOCES Administration, and Supervision of Instruction sections and eliminated a total of $662,380 from the initial budget proposal presented by Superintendent Dr. Edward Melnick on Jan. 21. Visit http://www. northshoreschools.org to watch this initial budget presentation video.
In addition, the board placed $3,150 for membership to Nassau Suffolk School Boards Association and $310,000 for Security District-wide on the comeback list. These items will be discussed again at the March 11 meeting when it will be decided whether or not to remove or reduce these amounts.
At the meeting, Dr. Melnick reiterated that if the budget did not pass in May and the district was forced to be on a contingency budget, it would mean a zero percent budget increase for next year. This would result in the reduction of over 50 positions as well as the elimination of all extracurricular activities including: interscholastic athletics, clubs, plays, jazz band, Madrigals, and all nonacademic programs. Music courses and physical education would still be offered as these courses are required for graduation. He emphasized that on a contingency budget, schools would only be opened from 8 a.m. - 3 p.m. Additionally, there would be a tremendous increase in class size, most electives would be eliminated, and only those courses mandated by the state (i.e., those required for the Regents Diploma) would be offered.
Dr. Melnick said, “Public Education has not faced this difficult a budget crisis since 1932. The superintendents in surrounding districts are all concerned about passing their budgets but I am convinced we will have support from the community with a budget that is considered reasonable.”
BOE President Igor Webb added, “The board is doing everything they can and the realities are very serious. We welcome any other suggestions to influence legislation to avert these results.” Trustee Amy Beyer communicated, “The Board will try and uncover every possible cut so the community can support the budget and it can pass on the first try.” BOE Vice President Carolyn Mazzu Genovesi reiterated, “It is important that the Board hears from everyone in the community. We ask those residents who have an understanding of what we are facing to help us communicate the message.”
Mr. Ross Haber gave an overview of the demographic report. After thorough investigation, it appears the new owner of the North Shore Country Club will not be developing it into residential homes. He noted the district’s buildings are in good shape and every available space is utilized. He projects that enrollment will decrease over the next five to 10 years.
Dr. Melnick reviewed the results of the tutoring survey that he conducted recently with parents. He communicated that many students seek tutoring for a variety of reasons including: to help them pass a course and to enhance their grade. Trustees suggested that the policy involving extra help sessions be reviewed to be sure it is being followed.
During the month of March, the Board will continue to remain sensitive to the fiscal concerns of our residents as they seek to make further reductions prior to adopting the 2010-2011 budget on Thursday, March 25. Trustees strongly urge you to come to the upcoming meetings and voice your feelings and concerns so that they can make an informed decision based on the input of our community members. Upcoming BOE/ Budget meetings will take place in the High School Alumni Room at 8 p.m. (unless noted otherwise) on the following dates: Feb. 25 (Budget Review), March 11 (Comeback Items/Budget Refinement), March 25 (Budget Adoption), April 20 (BOCES Budget Vote/ Meet the Candidates Night), and May 6 (Town Meeting/Budget Reading).