The New Hyde Park-Garden City Park Board of Education recommended a $42,320,960 budget for the 2021-22 school year at a meeting Monday night. The proposed budget is 3.04 percent above the $41,073,250 budget for 2020–21.
The draft budget comes with a tax levy increase of 1.14 percent. The $32,971,547 tax levy will cost the average homeowner $42 more.
The budget includes a 0.69 percent decrease in salaries to $20,649,980 and a 0.32 percent increase in benefits to $10,803,115. As the school district’s deputy superintendent, Michael Frank, explained, administrators expect a decrease in staffing needs based on enrollment projections, and there has been a simultaneous decrease in staff due to retirements. With less staff, less funding is needed to cover salaries in the budget; with more retirements, more funding is needed to cover benefits in the budget.
Thanks to a 24.15 percent increase in state aid to $7,766,370, the budget will be able to fund various enhancements to the district’s programs. Superintendent Jennifer Morrison discussed some of these additions, including a full-time psychologist and new director of technology and innovation.
“As far as a director of technology goes, we have added so much technology to our district … it’s gotten to the point where we need another person to assist to take over and be the director of technology, because we are now a technology district,” Morrison said.
Along with other enhancements, the district plans to add professional development programs for teachers and further allocations for special education students who may enroll in the future. Morrison said that $550,000 would go to the special education budget in particular.
“We are actually going to allocate some of this money so that we can anticipate that there will be high-cost special education students coming into the district. We definitely have seen this in this last year, where we have people moving in from New York City and bringing their kids here because we do such a great job,” Morrison said.
“It’s such a lovely place to raise your children and it’s such a wonderful place for special education services. They’re coming here for the help, and we will allocate some of that money for children with special needs that we can’t service here in the school district and have to send out of district.”
Frank further emphasized the advantages of this change and outlined its impact on the budget.
“All of the stars are aligned for the potential for us to have families move in that have special needs students, and it is an upward cost – for one child, it could be $150,000. So, to have $550,000 in there for a cushion to give us three or four kids is something that we normally don’t have the benefit of having in the budget, but we’re going to have this year as a luxury item. If we don’t utilize those funds, then at the end of the year, those funds will be used to increase our savings,” Frank said.
Morrison also reviewed some of the capital work that the proposed budget would fund, such as the replacement of some stair landings at Garden City Park and New Hyde Park Road School, the installation of fire doors and the reconstruction of bathrooms.