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School Board Facing Harsh Reality

Expected to Discuss School Closing At Tomorrow’s Meeting

The Mineola School Board is facing some difficult decisions it may need to make to put forth a budget for the 2010-2011 school year that residents of the district will support in this tough economic climate. Among the decisions is whether to close one or two of the district’s seven schools, a cost-saving measure that is expected to be discussed at tomorrow night’s board meeting.

The Mineola School Board must make difficult financial decisions if it is to move forward with a budget that will be well received in the community. It is expected that, due to budget increases tied to staff salary and benefit cost increases, an expected decrease in state aid as well as the state’s mandate that a contingency budget must contain no increase over the current year’s budget, the school board and administration will be looking at cost-cutting measures in the budget. To make matters worse, the bailout money or ARRA money will not be in the 2011-2012 budget so the administration and board must look years ahead to ensure that the community can afford the educational system in Mineola.

It is estimated that in order to keep everything in the 2010-2011 budget that was in the current year’s budget, the school board would have to ask for a tax levy increase of 5.46 percent. The tax levy is the amount of the budget that is funded with property taxes.

In order to get the budget down to a 2.5 percent tax levy increase, the administration and the board must make $2.1 million in cuts. Such cuts would mostly come from personnel. It is estimated that seven teaching positions would be cut as well as eight part-time aides, two administrators, a clerical staff member, four custodian/bus driver positions as well as monies set aside as stipends for school clubs, money for equipment and $100,000 for capital upkeep of school buildings.

Such cuts could impact the educational program the school district delivers. Another option would be closing a school or two schools. In a scenario that involves closing two schools, the “neighborhood school” concept would cease to exist as each school would service particular grades instead of the different geographic areas that they currently do.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Nagler hopes district residents will come out to tomorrow’s board meeting and give their input. Dr. Nagler has also set up a “Question and Answer” section on his blog, “Nagler’s Notions” on the district website Residents can post questions and the superintendent will answer them.

The board meeting will take place Thursday, Jan. 21 at 7 p.m. in the auditorium of Mineola High School, 10 Armstrong Road in Garden City Park.