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Miller Place Adopts $64.95 Million Budget, Will Restore Programs

Miller Place announced programs will be restored Wednesday, but details were unavailable.

The Miller Place Board of Education adopted a 2012-13 budget of $64,954,995 Wednesday night and announced that programs will be restored from the , but details will not be available until the next meeting in April.

The budget remains within the tax levy cap (2.6 percent for the district) and is a slight increase over the original Superintendent's proposed budget of $64,681,269. Superintendent Susan Hodun delivered a message early in the meeting explaining why details of the budget have not yet been finalized.

"The anticipation of additional state aid to the district, additional savings due to retirements and some reallocation of funds in the proposed...budget allows for restorations to some of our programs district wide," she said. 

Details of just which programs have been restored will be given out at the April 25 budget hearing.

"The reason why we’re doing that is because it will allow for time for the Board and the administration to continue discussions with district employees regarding concessions, which are moving in a positive direction," Hodun said. "Even with the restorations of programs to the current budget, there still will be some staffing reductions and excessing."

The Board also announced that one seat, Michael Unger's, will be up for election in May. Unger said that he will be running again. Last year, three seats were up for election and were won by Ann O'Brien (incumbent), Brian Neyland and Doug Ports.

Chris Frawley, a parent of three in the district, seemed to strike a chord with those in attendance and summarize the feelings of many during this budget process.

"I've got a third-grader, a ninth-grader and an eleventh-grader, and I really would appreciate not going through this agony every year," he said, which resulted in a loud round of applause. "I think the board needs to be thinking two, three years down the road."

Scott Mandia March 29, 2012 at 03:41 PM
I think it is clear that we need a budget committee to meet after the vote to create a 3-5 year plan that can be shared with the community. The committee would be comprised of BOE members Mike Unger and Brian Neyland, Dept. Supt. Marianne Higuera, MPTA President Nancy Sanders and several members of the community. The plan would allow us all to avoid the annual agony so eloquently described by resident Chris Frawley in this article.
MPmustChange March 29, 2012 at 04:06 PM
Oh, and another thing.....EVERTHING hasnt been restored. You must convey the truth. The "superfluous activites" like athletics are pennies when compared to actual classes like Business and Foreign Language. The Middle School sports program that they wanted to cut was around 160K. You can buy to much with that these days for a Public School. The rest of these activities cost even less. The Business and Foreign Language must come from some sort of concession from the Admin, MPTA or both. Lets also get your FACTS straight: 2% of HS athletes get a 1/2 ride scholarship??? Not even close. MUCH MUCH Less. Most scholarships come from a mix of both sports (or extra curricular activities) and academics. You cant get one with out the other. Another FACT: Less then 2% of students will go on to pursue business or foreign language. So following your thoughts through....then those programs should be cut as well. Extras are Extras are Extras.....you cant have one without the other. If you state that Academic programs make one a well rounded student then the same will hold true for a Student Athlete or band member or Robotic team member. This the partents do Remember and why they are fighting so hard to keep the little they have. Following through with your logic, you might just want to take away everything that is not mandated by NYS. This will take away half of the school as the kids know it. Just call it the MP Factory. Take away the School part.
Captain Howard Hawrey March 29, 2012 at 04:11 PM
The budget committee for the future is a great idea. And though this will ruffle some feathers it needs to be said: The MP PTO should not have a place on this committee until it is proven that it is no longer attached to the hip of the MPTA and the Administration. That cozy, feel good, relationship has got to end. The MP PTO needs to be more of a district watch dog and not a district lap dog!
MP Majority March 29, 2012 at 04:22 PM
@MPmustChange, your facts are skewed. Approximately 2% of all student athletes get a sports scholarship - most with 1/2 rides. Check with Lisa Lally - she showed me the reference for that last year. Additionally, to say that less than 2% of all students go onto business is totally ludicrous. Business is the 4th most popular major in college nationwide, and the vast majority of college grads go into some form of business. You obviously haven't done your homework with that. As a nation we need to educate our children in areas of business like finance, budgeting, use of credit cards, managing debt, etc. The reason that this country is in such a mess (and our school district is as well), is failure to understand basic economic/business principles and its applications. You couldn't be more wrong with your assessment in that regard. As far as my comment on sports programs, I understand the actual cost, but to put them on a pedestal ahead of Business, you've got to be kidding me.............
Scott Mandia March 29, 2012 at 04:31 PM
I respectfully disagree. The PTO represents a large portion of the community and if they wish to be on an important district committee they should be present. The devisive nature of budget communication must stop. I think we are headed in the right direction this year (finally). Last night Marc Bloom (MP Boosters Club), Nancy Arnold (Robotics Club), and Mark Larson (Friends of the Arts) stood shoulder to shoulder to let Admin and BOE know that they were united in that it is the district's reponsibility to find the money to save the programs and not the responsibility of the various supporters. I agree that it would have been an even stronger message if the PTO stood with them.
MPmustChange March 29, 2012 at 04:41 PM
MPM You are proving my point. You cant have one without the other. There will be no athletic scholarships with out good grades, there will be no academic scholorships without the extras (sports, clubs and arts). Since I have to get my facts straight: You say 2% of athletic scholarships get 1/2 rides. What % get less than 1/2 ride? What precentage of student athletes actually get accepted to a school with no ride that they actually would have never gotten into but because of sports they were accepted (AKA Division #3)? Or better yet, What percentage of student athletes got accepted to any school (any division 1, 2 or 3) scholarship or not? My point, students and partents are not into sports or clubs for that matter just because of the scholarship money? Who is putting anything ahead of education???? Not me. You not only want education first....but dont want to have anything second!
Captain Howard Hawrey March 29, 2012 at 04:51 PM
Scott I do agree with your premise that the MP PTO should be on the committee. At this point in time they do not however represent the community properly or effectively. They have been "in bed" with the MPTA and Administration for so long they can't stand on their own two feet. When they are the true representative voice of the community and are not just an extension of the MPTA and the Administration they should be welcomed with open arms.
MP Majority March 29, 2012 at 05:05 PM
@MPmustChange, I didn't say anything about not having anything second. I did state that I love sports and my kids do too. They all have been part of sports teams, and I enjoy(ed) those days immensely. All I'm saying is that priorities for education MUST come first. And I did say that healthcare & pension "concessions" (not really concessions, except in the contractual sense) will save millions and allow us to preserve everything, and avoid layoffs entirely. You struck a chord with me on your Business comment. We should be tripling our educational efforts in reading, writing, arithmetic, science, and yes, business. Have you seen the national scores dropping relative to other industrialized nations? Have you seen how our country runs its Business? Do you realize that most kids graduating from MP don't even know how to balance a checkbook? They have no clue about budgeting? They don't have a clue about the ramifications (or the ROI formula) when taking out a college loan? We have really failed as an educational institution in that regard. We need to get back to basics first and focus on these major aspects of education, and make sure that all of our trusted and well-qualified employees pay their fair share commensurate with what the market is telling us things cost. If the latter occurs, we don't need to cut anything, and we can put money away for the future.
MPmustChange March 29, 2012 at 05:33 PM
100% agreed now. I understand where u are coming from. My point is that sports, programs, arts, etc....any thing extra curricluar, is very easy prey when money is tight and salaries are too expensive to keep. They (admin and BOE) look to cut programs that are not covered in any contracts (MPTA, ADMIN) to save money. Instead of doing what is right they take the easy way out. Agree with you 100% that academics must come first. And with that many electives should be available throughout the curriculum like business and foreign lanuages. But not at the expense of the Extras. Thanks for your opinion and input
Scott Mandia March 29, 2012 at 05:51 PM
MPmustChange: The BOE budget details have not been revealed so any comments about cuts are premature. Those details will be revealed on April 25.
MP Majority March 29, 2012 at 05:52 PM
@MPmustChange, I didn't think we were that far apart opinion-wise, from the beginning. Markets are pretty efficient entities, and the markets are telling us that Healthcare costs are out-of-control, pension funds are under-funded (not only Union defined pension plans, but private sector 401K plans through market losses incurred), and there is a glut of teachers on the market, courtesy the recent influx of Education majors sitting on the sidelines without jobs. What does that all mean to me? It's time for Administrators and Teachers alike to start paying their fair share in regard to healthcare and pension shortcoming costs - just like we have to in the private sector! If you are an Administrator or a Teacher and you don't like this -- sorry, the market is telling you otherwise. There are teachers willing to work for 1/2 your salary that would start tomorrow given the opportunity. Is this a threat? No, it isn't. This is economic reality, and market forces at work. Pay your dues....it's time....the days of "Entitlement" are no longer in play any more. EVERYONE will benefit from this; namely, the kids!
laura walsh March 29, 2012 at 06:55 PM
Rocky Point and Mt. Sinai have many more programs to offer than Miller Place does. These districts have a lot more to cut from. Miller Place is at the bare minimum as it is. RP and MS weren't hit as hard in the past years. Even after RP and MS program cuts and MP restoring what we have left, RP and MS will still continue to offer more.
laura walsh March 29, 2012 at 07:06 PM
Sports isn't only about scholarships. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is just as (or even more) important than academics. Any respectable school district has an athletic program. There is enough money in this budget for the academic programs, sports, and the extra curricular programs -- they are all a part of a quality education!! Some things just cannot be taught in a classroom.
Captain Howard Hawrey March 30, 2012 at 12:12 AM
Just read the headline and the patch article again. The more I read it the more things don't smell right to me. I'm betting this announcement is just away to quiet us down. There won't be a whole lot of time to address any issues we have between when the "details" are announced and the vote happens. You heard it here first, we are being set up so that this budget gets pushed through no matter what it looks like. Why else would you make such a vague announcement like this?
laura walsh March 30, 2012 at 01:18 AM
I hope you're wrong Mr Hawrey. We were definitely lead to believe that the programs would be restored. If you are correct, our administration will lose ALL CREDIBILITY..... It was a very vague announcement - but programs being restored -- was what was said. Worse case - we just vote it down.
Scott Mandia March 30, 2012 at 01:23 AM
My sense is that the BOE is giving certain leaders the time that they need to convince their members that concessions are needed. It was a wise move to delay details. Better it were done well than done quickly.
Captain Howard Hawrey March 30, 2012 at 01:33 AM
I hope I'm wrong too. The fact is that they aren't telling us what programs they are going to or are trying to restore. The fact is that they aren't telling us about any real concessions, The fact is that they aren't telling us how much this is going to cost us. Is all too vague for my likings. They told us nothing and are leading us to believe plenty. I'd have preferred it if they just told us they were still working on things. Get ready for the try to appease everyone manuever and get ready to open up your wallets because it's going to cost us.
MP Majority March 30, 2012 at 01:36 AM
Most of this on-again, off-again back-and-forth is gamesmanship, and is part of the Sales 101 game. Take things away & make people scream in disbelief, and then miraculously find a way to bring them back, and then look like heroes. That could be at play. Also, there are finally some BOE members that understand business, and they may certainly be making the Admin team be accountable for all actions. And yes, there may be some truth to waiting for final state fund #'s and the negotiation with the MPTA. With Union salary & benefit obligations over 21% of entire budget, that nut must be cracked. Administration needs to make concessions as well, since they have made none to date, and are smelling more and more as purely a self-serving entity. They need to lead by example and share the amount of pain that is currently prevalent in our economy.
Captain Howard Hawrey March 30, 2012 at 01:38 AM
Scott I respect a lot of what you have posted but do you really think the MPTA and the Administrators are going to give back anything? I will be really surprised if they do. That's not how unions work. Especially when (like it or not) they have the upper hand in this mess.
MP Majority March 30, 2012 at 01:51 AM
@Captain, I'm not entirely sure anyone has the upper hand this year. They are being squeezed at the top by Albany and at the bottom with tax-cap (also Albany). If the budget gets voted down, something will have to give. MPTA will lose bargaining power at contract renewal time with current state of economy, healthcare costs, pension under-funding, and an army of new teachers waiting in the wings. They would be foolish to not see the big picture, and "concede" accordingly, especially after receiving their sweetheart CPI deal last year. If Administration fails at this, they may very well be run out of town. I think it behooves everyone to get it right the 1st time, and I believe Unger and Neyland will fight to the bitter end to help right the ship. Time will tell of course. I'm pessimistic as usual, but at the same time there is a bit of cautious optimism in me as well.
MP Majority March 30, 2012 at 01:54 AM
@ScottMandia, I do not know you, but from your other Blog, outstanding analysis providing real # solutions. I applaud you for your efforts.
Scott Mandia March 30, 2012 at 02:36 AM
Yes, there will be concessions. How much is the $2 million question. I really hope that Central Office offers up something thus allowing MPTA to follow the lead. MPTA giving up CPI is a no-brainer because the language showed us that 1.5% raises were acceptable to MPTA. And why not? 1.5% raises next year looked pretty generous when many other districts were accepting freezes. (I have a 0% raise this year and also a 0% raise next year – not counting the steps I will receive.) It was clear to Mike Unger and many of us (but not to BOE members Magnani and O'Brien) that 1.5% or higher CPI raises next year was fiscally irresponsible. MPTA can now give up something that they probably never expected to get anyway. Smart MPTA, not so smart BOE. Giving up CPI raises saves the proposed budget about $500,000 – not small change but not enough to save all the jobs. We cannot lose more teachers. Apparently, the unemployment benefits for releasing 23 teachers would cost the district over $500,000 next year. That means that saving teachers saves us that expense. Now we need to locate about $1.5 million to save all teachers. If the MPTA chooses to come back to the table with a 0% raise for next year we are almost there. Keep in mind that all teachers not at the top step WILL get their step raises. These raises are 3.5% for steps 1-18 and 2% raises for steps 19-24. Those at top step 25 would not get a raise. (continued)
Scott Mandia March 30, 2012 at 02:38 AM
So what does that mean in $? Below are the step “raises” for a teacher with Masters degree at various steps: Step 1: Current Salary = $54,862, Step Raise = +$1,920 (+3.5%) Step 10: Current Salary = $76,073, Step Raise = +$2,663 (+3.5%) Step 20: Current Salary = $98,671, Step Raise = +$1,973 (+2%) Step 25: Current Salary = $108,756, No step raise So now we wait to find out how much MPTA will give back. Giving back CPI would not impress me because that should never have been agreed to in the first place and MPTA knows this. So how far back will MPTA come from the 1.5%? The answer will show us how serious MPTA is about saving their colleagues because it is clear that this BOE and this community are not going to pierce the cap. And I must emphasize again that Central Office MUST also step to the plate.
Scott Mandia March 30, 2012 at 02:45 AM
Thank you for your kind words. Previous BOEs have been too quick to pass increased costs onto the taxpayers because we were all afraid to vote no on proposed budgets. Voting no to a bad budget often feels like voting no for education. The tax cap now forces districts to be smarter with their finances so residents will no longer be guilted into going along.
John Savarese March 31, 2012 at 04:15 AM
One point I would like to make from the last three budget seasons and meetings that I have particiapted in and learned from is as follows: The workshops go forward, the community including students speak, we, by and large ask for and demand change, Admin and BOE wince and feel uncomfortable for a few short weeks, and then put through whatever they see fit, regardless of our wishes. The last meeting of the past 3 years has always been remarkably the same~ the community so battle weary and fatigued and essentially beaten dow into submission, leaves with a whimper. The facts and points remain clear~ way too many high paid chiefs (admin) and deserving, but also well compensated and benefited teachers. Why do we feel we must play nice and not call this for what it is? Don't know about you all, but I continue to be mad as hell and hope we all don't take it any more! Last time I checked, we through our tax dollars employ these folks. When are we going to start calling for real accountability?
Scott Mandia March 31, 2012 at 12:41 PM
It is clear that Mike Unger and Brian Neyland are different. Keep in mind that they created the Budget Advisory Committee (I was a member) that was very inclusive and because of that there has been better communication. An example success from that committee is the FAQ page this year. Doug Ports has been less vocal about the budget so I cannot get a handle on his position but the fact that the BOE has proposed a budget that does not pierce the cap makes me assume that he agrees with Brian and Mike on this issue. I cannot say the same about John Magnani and Ann O'Brien. Ann was quick to ask us to pierce the cap and has been blaming state aid cuts instead of owning up to past poor fiscal management. On at least two occasions, she has refused to answer direct questions from residents at BOE meeting. Two meetings ago, John Magnani grabbed the microphone and told us that he would vote for a CPI-based MPTA contract if he had the chance to do it all over again. So he would go against our district lawyers advice again! I have great hope this time around and I sense the community has come together. Regardless of what happens, Miller Place residents have found their voice and understand that we are all in this together – residents, students, teachers, admin, and BOE members. This is so important because the next few years will require all of these groups to make some tough choices.
Cc123 April 01, 2012 at 03:35 AM
I think many Miller place families share your thoughts. school is about educating our youth to the best of our abilities. I think we have a lot of greed high up in the ranks. Our kids don't seem to be as big a priority as they should.
Mommy Roe April 03, 2012 at 02:55 AM
Through all these comments on this post and the RP budget post does anyone point out that MP does not have full day kindergarten? Both RP and Mt. Sinai do. If MP were to add full day how much more would that add to their budget? Between added teachers and having to find space to put the extra class rooms, I'd guess their budget would have to pierce the tax cap also. So in the end, all three school districts are pretty much in the same boat. Oh, and btw, don't fool yourselves...even if you vote "no" for the budget, the kids will be the only ones that suffer, not admin or teachers.
Wlodek April 03, 2012 at 11:22 AM
Mommy Roe, We are talking about the growth of the budget which is limited by the tax cap law. So those programs, which are in the budget and are being paid for already, are not what is discussed. The reason the budgets grow in an unsustainable way are the unaffordable contracts, which is why Rocky Point and Mt. Sinai are piercing the cap. As explained by many comments and blogs here, a small adjustment to their growth would allow keeping everything in the budget of all schools without piercing the cap. Those contracts need to be renegotiated so that the children and their education come first. It is sad to read your suggestion that at the end "...the kids will be the ones to suffer...". As a community we must make sure that such outcome is not acceptable. Should it happen, the taxpayers will not be the ones blame, you named those potentially responsible for such consequence yourself.
Janet April 29, 2012 at 01:13 PM
I understand the concept of a "well rounded education" but my feelings as a taxpayer is that in these tough economic times that if a child wants to play sports or attend after school activities then the parents should pay for it. I've lived and payed taxes in the Miller Place shcool district for 35 years and never had children. I believe we need to educate every child to the best of our ability, but after school programs should not be at the expense of the taxpayer regardless of how much or how little they cost. Perhaps the board of ed should consider salaring the teachers the way the general public is, that being some overtime is expected, and do away with the stipends for extra curricular activities.

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