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Mineola School Board Has Tough Decisions Ahead

To the Board of Ed, Administration Could Work to Trim Budget

credit of the Mineola School District administration and board of education, the leaders of the Mineola school system are already examining the budget, even before the calendar hits the new year. The total picture doesn’t look pretty but school leaders are preparing themselves to perhaps make tough decisions.

The school administration, including Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Nagler and Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations Jack Waters, along with the school board held a meeting at Mineola High School on Thursday to discuss the budget.

For the 2009-2010 budget, which is the current one that is in effect, the district is spending $79.2 million, of which $71.2 million is being derived from property tax dollars.

However, the administration is preparing for the 2010-2011 budget with the idea that revenues may be harder to come by. In order for the district to continue all the programs and services it currently provides, with the rising costs from such things as salaries and pensions and fuel, the district would have to put forth an $82.7 million budget.

The problem is that, with the state’s financial problems, some school districts may be seeing a cut in state aid. For the district to put forth the $82.7 million budget, the increase in the tax levy, which is the amount of the budget to be raised by property taxes, would increase by 5.46 percent, it is estimated.

The school board is well aware that the community may not support a 5.46 percent increase. Therefore, in the absence of rising revenues, the board will have to consider cuts to the school budget. It is estimated that to get the proposed 2010-2011 tax levy increase down to 2.5 percent, $2.1 million would have to be cut from the budget. Such a cut could have an impact on the educational program the district delivers.

The school board and the administration are expected to discuss a possible budget cuts in the upcoming board of education meetings. The board will be meeting on Jan. 7 and Jan. 21. It is possible that discussion involving the closing of a school or schools could begin again.