Written by Betsy Abraham Friday, 19 April 2013 00:00
Because of a new Teacher Retirement System (TRS) option, the Westbury School district will be able to save over a million dollars and meet its state mandated tax cap requirements.
According to interim superintendent of schools Mary Lagnado, the TRS board recently voted to give the district reprieve of the high tax rating.
“Instead of paying it all at a high rate, we can smooth it over an eight year period and defer part of the payment to the future,” Lagnado said.
This option will save the district $1,080,564 next year, and instead of 16 percent, the district will be paying a 14 percent rate toward the TRS.
This district had entertained the idea of cutting teacher positions, but the new TRS relief option will allow it to avoid that option. Now, their budget includes a 5.17 percent increase and a 1.67 percent tax cap, which is well under the state mandated levy.
The district is additionally looking to save money in several ways. One includes outsourcing the half day pre-kindergarten teaching positions, which according to Lagnado will save the district at least $350,000.
“We will not be running it, St. Joseph’s college or some other source will be giving us teachers,” Lagnado said. “Nobody will lose their job. We’re doing it all by attrition.”
The district is also not replacing four full time retirement positions. They also propose saving money on transportation by changing the bell schedule at Park Avenue elementary school. By starting the day half an hour earlier, it will save the district the cost of three buses, resulting in a savings of over $163,000.
“We’ve looked at every area so that we can save, but also to maximize dollars and maintain the integrity of our academic programs. I think it’s a win win for everyone,” Lagnado says.
The board formally adopts the budget on April 18, and the budget vote will take place on May 21. If the public does not vote to pass the budget, the district will have to cut an additional $1.22 million to achieve a zero percent budget.