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Proposed Budget; 2.49% Hike

New Hyde Park-Garden City Park Schools talk budget

Months of hard work and number crunching came together at the New Hyde Park School on Monday, March 11 when the New Hyde Park-Garden City Park Board of Education unveiled a first draft of its 2013-14 budget that calls for a 2.49 percent hike over last year’s figures.

District Superintendent Robert Katulak and Assistant Superintendent Michael Frank gave a detailed explanation of all the factors that come into play when coming up with a final number.

Those key numbers include $35,354,725 total budget, representing a 2.49 percent increase over the 2012-13. 

According to administrators, the estimated maximum allowable tax levy of 3.21 percent would support whatever budget is proposed, meaning a tax levy increase.

During the presentation, it was stressed that the state’s 2 percent property tax cap only limits a school district’s levy, and not the individual tax bill of a resident. The assessed property value of one’s home is the key element in determining how much must be paid case by case.

Factors such as town real estate additions and renovations (tax base growth factor) and PILOT payments (funding for industrial properties incentivized to come to the area) create an adjusted 2012-13 levy.

Figuring in the allowable levy growth factor, and next year’s debt service payments and exemptions (pension costs), brings next year’s maximum allowable levy to over $35 million.

Katulak insisted that “student achievement first” will remain just that - first. He says the proposed budget will allow the district to keep class sizes down, and that the teaching staff will be maintained or redeployed as needed, rather than having to do additional hiring.

Some changes are necessary, such as eliminating the science lab period for grades 1, 2, and 3, as the classroom teachers will now handle the science instruction. This is the only proposed staffing change in the budget. 

All core instructional programs would be maintained, along with the Gifted Odyssey and full day kindergarten programs.

Residents will vote on the budget on May 21. Should it not pass, the district may resubmit it or a revised budget to the voters on June 18.

Should that fail, the board must adopt a budget that levies a tax no greater than the 2012-13 school year. That would result in an austerity budget, and an estimated $900,000 in further cuts.

News And Notes

- An amendment to the upcoming budget will call for a vote on using $400,000 from the capital reserve fund on security upgrades, such as newer locks, an intercom/video system, and one button lockdown technology in case of emergencies.

- Treasurer Lori Carrick announced a balance of $10.9 million in the general fund money market account. 

- One parent did express concern about the proposed elimination of the science lab for grades one through three, feeling it could put a burden on fourth-grade teachers to have to play catch up.

- Another parent stressed to the board that it needs to hash out a new contract with teachers, feeling that morale could be compromised while negotiations drag on.

The next regular board meeting will be Monday, April 8 at 8 p.m. in the Manor Oaks School.