Few question Port Washington school budget at hearing

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The Port Washington Board of Education during their October 2018 meeting. (Photo by Luke Torrance)

Questions were scarce at the Port Washington Board of Education’s hearing on the proposed $160.5 million school budget on Tuesday night.

The proposed budget includes a tax increase of 2.88 percent. Only 6 percent of spending is paid for with state aid, according to school board member Emily Beys.

Sam Glasser, a Port Washington resident and a freelance reporter for Blank Slate Media, asked the board why the district needed to add an assistant superintendent for general administration position in the upcoming school year.

The new position is projected to cost the district $245,518 per year.

Board President Karen Sloan said when compared with districts of similar size, Port Washington is light on administration staff. She said adding a new administrator will benefit all of the schools in the district.

“We are the opposite of top-heavy,” she said. “It does affect our entire district if central administration is not working as productively as it can.”

Superintendent Kathleen Mooney said currently the district does not have enough administrators to conduct required staff observations. She said the central administration has been thin for a number of years and the district got to a point where the administration could not support its requirements and teachers the way it wanted to.

James Ku, a father of two in Port Washington schools, said he hopes the district preserves its low teacher-student ratios.

The enrollment in the school district as of April 10 was 5,508 students compared with 5,555 at the same time last year. 

Kindergarten enrollment was 360 as of April 15, which is two above the district’s projected number for the incoming class.

With 5,508 students in the district, the proposed budget equates to the district spending $29,149 per student.

For the 2017-18 school year, the district had the lowest cost per pupil in the area at $27,219 per student. Locust Valley was recorded as the highest, at $40,435 per student.

The 2019-20 proposed school budget is a 2.96 percent, or $4,618,456, increase over the current budget of $155 million.

The district received a $400,000 boost in school aid when the state budget was adopted, which at the board’s April meeting board member Larry Greenstein said amounted to a $1 million increase in state aid from last year.

Port Washington residents can vote on the budget on May 21 at Weber Middle School. The budget vote will be in conjunction with the school board election, where four candidates are seeking two seats on the board.

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