School Budget: Reserves, Layoffs to Close $4M Gap

Nanuet residents raised concerns over how a worsening education quality may lead to a decline in their property values


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At the Nanuet School Board meeting earlier this week, Superintendent Mark McNeill presented details on the 2013-14 school budget to a room of more than 100 people. In the upcoming budget workshops, the district will need to look into how to close a $3.9 million gap to get under the tax levy limit. In earlier Patch articles, McNeill announced his request that the grade reconfiguration would be tabled and went over budget trends and mandated fixed costs.

Upcoming Budget Workshops:

Workshops do not have an agenda nor a public forum

  • March 11—General support, buildings and grounds, transportation, benefits and revenue
  • March 12—Staffing and instruction
  • March 19—Total Budget Review (followed by a regular board meeting)

The powerpoint presentation is attached to this article as a PDF

Closing the Gap

There’s a gap of almost $4 million the district has to close to get the budget under the 2013-14 tax levy limit

“The reserves for the 13-14 school year are about $2,9 million. I’m estimating for reserves that we would apply this year—If the gap is $3.9 million—about $1 million,” said McNeill. He added that this was just an estimate that would need further discussion at the upcoming March budget workshops.

“All of the unknowns will be known in March.”

Over in Clarkstown School District, they're looking at a budget that has a gap of $9 million between expenses and revenues. Clarkstown School District Assistant Superintendent for Business, Facilities and Fiscal Management John LaNave said if the entire $9 million is withdrawn, it could possibly deplete the unrestricted reserve fund.

Pearl River Director of Operations Quinton Van Wynen is projecting a $1.7 million shortfall in the district budget for 2013-14, with even larger deficits for 2014-15 ($2.4 million) and 2015-16 ($2.6 million). 

Actions Needed to Close the Gap

  • Layoffs of personnel
  • Other reductions in the budget
  • “We’ll be reducing our reserves significantly”

"Next year, we’re not cutting programs. We’re not touching class sizes."

Board Comments

“The way this is playing out in Nanuet is having an adverse impact on the school system,” said McNeill.

“I’ve been on the board a very long time and this is one of the worst times I’ve seen,” said Board President Anne Byrne. “If we make sure our children are educated, we won’t need half the prisons out there or half as much money for welfare. If we don’t have a well-educated public, our democracy is at state. This is the big picture. We have to have a well-educated populace and we’re not going to have that if we keep going down this slope. If we’re no longer a democracy, the economy … is going to go down the tube as well. Education is the lynchpin for all ills of society."

Byrne added that "the taxpayers can only pay so much. (With the town’s tax increases), there's no way to go out again and ask for people to pay much more because 75 percent of the people going out to vote don’t have children in the schools. We’re between a rock and a hard place.”

Public Forum

Nanuet Father CJ Bottitta said during the public forum that he had reached out to Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski, Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee and Senator David Carlucci right after the October board meeting.

“I got a response from Carlucci’s office quickly. I finally got an automated reply from Jaffee’s office last Saturday,” he said, adding that he has yet to hear back from Zebrowski’s office.

He also said that he’d like to see elected officials attend a school board meeting and listen to the discussions that take place. At the end of the meeting, a representative from David Carlucci’s office stepped forward and said that she had been taking notes and would return and discuss the issues with Carlucci the following morning.

“We’re not in great shape but we’re not in as bad as some other districts, but it doesn’t make me feel any better. I’ve continued to reach out,” said Bottitta. “I think education is the most important thing. It affects our property values and resale values. If education goes down, we’re not going to be able to resell our homes and if taxes keep going up, (it’ll be more difficult). I don’t mind paying more and getting more for the kids, but I feel like we’re paying more but getting less and that’s a scary proposition. It doesn’t seem like there’s a bell curve where we’re going to go up again.

We have to reach out to elected officials and follow up with them and … hold their feet to the fire.”

Community Involvement

  • Contact governor’s office and express concern with the tax levy limit formula and how it doesn’t allow for necessary increases
  • Send copies to the state officials
  • A sample letter is on the district website with names and addresses of local representatives

Related Patch Articles:


  • $4M Gap In Draft 2013-14 Nanuet School Budget
  • McNeill Requests Tabling of Grade Reconfiguration


  • Future Nanuet School Budget: "Going to be Survival"
  • Nanuet School Budget: Possible Depletion of Reserves
  • Superintendent McNeill Explains Proposed Changes
  • Nanuet School Budget: Breaking Down the Numbers
  • Nanuet Schools 2013-14 Budget: $3.5M Budget Gap
  • Nanuet School Board: Federal Call to Action
Scott Walters March 06, 2013 at 11:50 PM
Anil...the problem with that is manifold: 1) Many people come to Nanuet for the small district. 2) Clarkstown has it's own problems that perhaps nanuet would not want to be a part of at this time. 3) Even if there was a merger with Clarkstown, the taxpayers would still have rhe shoulder the burden of having a school system to pay tax money. The better alternative? Either a merger with Pearl River (and perhaps South Orangetown) or to have countywide administration be shared and be common for all. If the BOCES program can do this for that portion of the education of students here in Rockland, there is no doubt that we can share other administrative staff and resources. We cannot imagine a countrywide district anytime soon, as East Ramapo has thrown away any chance of that occurring
Anil Mammen March 07, 2013 at 08:22 AM
The idea is to realize some benefits in shared assets that would materialize with a merger. Cutting teachers is not the answer unless their hiring was a mistake. I don't know the full compensation package, but if it is where other municipal employees are, then perhaps they start to contribute as the private sector. Is there a case of negligence and mismanagement by school officials here? I need to understand why school taxes have more than doubled since 2000?
Scott Walters March 07, 2013 at 10:48 AM
Of course the employees should be contributing to their own pension s and other benefits, This goes without saying. At times there have been some additional staf hired, but now some very creative ways have been created to bring the numbers to the minimum needed to perform the necessary activities needed to have solid academics. One can merge services and buying power an such without necessarily merging districts. This is the whole deal with the BOCES program for vocational education. Taxes have risen due to costs increasing and tax bases shifting AND the lack of any creative means of bringing in money and materials from the private sector through a Director of Development and Alumni Affairs. But I mentioned that previously.
Watchdog March 07, 2013 at 01:11 PM
Some day we will come to grips, perhaps when it it too late, that as a community we can no longer afford these outrageous health plans, benefits and the crazy salary schedules for teachers and other public sector employees. As with the Federal Government, it is not about lack of revenues, it is about controlling expenses and that means primarily pensions and medical.
Scott Walters March 07, 2013 at 03:08 PM
Watchdog is spot on regarding this. The amount of money that NYC will have to pay out to my wife when she decides to retire based on her age and how she'll work the pension could be as much or more than she earned while teaching. Mind blowing...and she didn't have to contribute one red cent...


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