At last night’s meeting, the Nanuet Board of Education met for the second of two budget workshops. Tuesday night, they looked at staffing and instruction.
On Monday night, they looked at Phil Sions, assistant superintendent for business, went through the school's .
The Nanuet Schools' budget is going up 1.6 percent and the levy is going up 0.64 percent. However, the 2 percent tax levy increase does not equal a 2 percent tax rate increase limit. The schools have a say on the tax levy, which is capped at 2 percent.
Then other variables—out of the school's control—usually causes the final tax rate to end up more than 2 percent. Those variables include the equalization rate, the Pfizer settlement, homestead, non-homestead, etc ...
Faced with increasing fixed costs and decreasing outside funding, schools are finding that they’re forced to make cuts to stay under this tax cap. Ultimately, this threatens the future quality of education within schools.
Here’s a quick look at the major budget categories from last night’s workshop. The full public budget is attached to this article as a PDF:What 2011-12 Budget 2012-13 Budget $ Change Total Instruction $33,440,628 $33,887,816 $447,188
Total Instruction is broken down into four categories:
Administration & Improvement
- Increased by $25,475
- Some of the costs under this section are for the "Race to the Top" initiative.
- Increased by $719,182
- Most of the increase came from programs for students with disabilities-Medicaid eligible (increase of $350,416) and teaching-regular school (increase of $271,237)
Under this category is an increase from the school having to pick up a salary for a remedial teacher that was previously covered by a grant.
"For example, right now, Meredith (Fox, Director of Student Support Services) has probably half a dozen teachers that are being funded (under a grant) rather than the operating budget. Every year, decisions are made. Sometimes the individuals change and an individual covered by the grant is put into the operating budget and someone else is picked up by the grant," said Superintendent Mark McNeill.
Board President Anne Byrne said that if one person switched places with another in the operating budget and the grant, it should show that it balances out. Fox added that it's not just teachers that are covered by her grant, but they could also be guidance counselors, psychologists, teaching assistants or anyone that works with students with disabilities. Because of this, the changes in the budget may be found on different line items each time someone moves between the operating budget and being covered by the grant. There is also a possibility that a teacher that switches halfway through the year into remedial teaching.
$475,000 is used for substitute teachers. Byrne also brought up class size differences between elementary and middle school.
"What you have is that the teachers don't teach as many minutes in the middle school as they do in the elementary school, so because of the specialization ... and the fact that they teach five classes—whereas in the elementary schools, they teach six—the class sizes are closer to 23.5 (and are based off of sections not number of teachers)," explained Barr Middle School Principal Roger Guccione. "There are actually seven sections in fifth grade next year. We have the extra teachers because of the specialization and because they have only five classes versus someone who has six."
Under Occupational Education, 10 students are taking physical education because they're at BOCES all day and it's the only way to get their Phys Ed requirement in. Byrne also asked about what the Pre-GED line was under Occupational Education.
"Pre-GED is when some of the students who are pushing toward a GED are struggling a bit and may not pass the GED test, so they go into Pre-GED, which is like a prep to take that program," said High School Principal Vincent Carella.
Some of these are students who may have come to the high school late and may not have enough credits and/or regents to get a regent's diploma, or some are students who "really have proved over time that they are disaffected by school and think that the best direction to help them be completers ... is to go get a GED so that they will have credentials after four years," said Carella.
Byrne also brought up the fact that Nanuet is the only school district in the county to have guidance services at the 3rd and 4th grade level. The guidance counselors are more like psychologists and also provide character recognition.
"We got guidance counselors for Highview (Elementary) within a year after it opened," said Steve Schlanger, Assistant Superintendent. "It was the smartest thing we could ever do because kids come to school with a lot of issues. They're dealing with everything that affects students, but also families in crisis, deaths in families. These are things we do in high school, but the little ones need it as well."
"There is a lot of counseling going on," said Highview Principal Barbara Auriemma.
- Decreased by $214,305
- The School Library & AV line decreased by $115,264 because two people left, one through retirement.
- Decreased by $83,164
- The largest decrease is in interscholastic athletics-regular schedule by $41,733. That includes cuts in coaches and the change in modified sports.
At a Nov. 1 Board of Education meeting, Athletic Director Frank Mazzuca spoke about the necessity of cutting teams, due to other schools in Rockland and Westchester who have eliminated their pure grade 7 and pure grade 8 teams. Thus, Nanuet will combine its 7th and 8th grade teams because of cost savings and the fact that there were few pure grade 7 and pure grade 8 teams left to compete against.
For a better breakdown, refer to the attached PDF document.