North Shore school officials present second budget draft

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North Shore school district officials reviewed the second draft of the proposed 2020-21 budget on Thursday night, offering a trimmed-down version from the first presentation.

Draft one of the budget, released earlier this year, initially called for about $110.64 million in spending – or a $2.84 million increase from the 2019-20 budget, which is roughly $107.8 million. The second draft presented called for just shy of $110.32 million, a decrease of more than $300,00 from the first proposal.

“The [school] board had spoken to us about the extent to which we can take a look at our use of reserves and reduce that amount in corresponding ways to expenses, so we did all that work,” Superintendent of Schools Peter Giarrizzo said. “In the meantime, we also had two special ed positions that propped up that needed to be backfilled.

While they originally cut back $687,169, according to Assistant Superintendent for Business Olivia Buatsi, net savings were reduced to $326,000 due to needing to add about $360,000 back in staffing – including the special education positions.

The meeting, which spanned about three hours, was the second public hearing on the budget that the school board held. The budget review focused on five areas: regular instruction, special education, library and audio-visual items, technology, and guidance and health-related services.

These areas, taken together, make up a majority of the proposed budget.

Regular instruction is budgeted to increase $307,558 from just shy of $36.9 million to $37.2 million, according to the new proposal, while special education is budgeted to increase $693,105 from $12.19 million to just under $12.89 million.

“Those are big numbers,” Giarrizzo said, referencing the budget lines for teachers. “Those are all our salaries.

Among the primary schools, Glenwood Landing’s budget for salaries would decrease slightly by $7,159 to $4.97 million, Glen Head’s budget for teacher salaries would go up from just under $4.14 million to $4.44 million, and Sea Cliff Elementary’s budget for salaries would decrease from just under $4.29 million to just shy of $4.19 million.

Middle school teachers would see their budget go up from $8.28 million to just under $8.63 million, while the budget for high school teacher salaries would go down $184,605 from $10.72 million to just under $10.54 million.

“It more has to do with their retirement from last year and replacing the teachers from last year,” Buatsi said.

The budget for attendance, guidance, health, psychological services and social workers – bundled together as health services – would rise from $4.35 million to $4.45 million under the current proposal, a difference of just over $102,000.

Technology’s budget, which features expenses ranging from computer technicians and equipment to software, totals just under $2.05 million.

This is $118,291 higher than the current $1.93 million, and includes a student information system upgrade and migration worth just under $141,000, according to the budget.

Giarrizzo suggested taking a closer look “at how staffing comes together” and said there will be a better sense of the numbers once schedules for next year are finalized. He also said state aid numbers are upcoming.

The full meeting can be found at http://www.northshore.k12.ny.us/boe/Board_Videos.html. More budget information can also be found at http://www.northshore.k12.ny.us/boe/Budget.html.

The presentation comes as North School officials are weighing how to mitigate the impact of a potential settlement between Nassau County and LIPA, which could shortchange the district of millions of dollars.

Currently, about $17.6 million of the district’s $107.8 million budget comes from the taxed Glenwood Landing site and payments in lieu of taxes from four other properties. Under a deal proposed by Nassau County, the tax bill would be roughly halved over seven years.

“Come [20]21-22, we’re going to have some important decisions to make about how we’re going to make ends meet,” Giarrizzo previously said.

In unrelated business, administrators honored members of Sea Cliff School’s student government for raising more than $2,200 as part of a virtual food drive for Island Harvest. The $2,203.36 supplemented $3,614 worth of meals.

“It’s a very very wonderful accomplishment,” Sara Jones, the school board president, told the students.

The next school board meeting will take place on Thursday, March 5, in the high school library starting at 7:45 p.m. The next budget meeting will be Thursday, March 26, also at 7:45 p.m. at the library.

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