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Mount Sinai's $55.4 Million Budget Fails, Falling Short of Supermajority

District's tax cap-piercing budget gets shut down by voters, only receiving 52.4 percent approval.

A budget of $55,364,115 for the Mt. Sinai School District has been rejected by voters Tuesday by a vote of 1263-1147. 

The budget, which pierces the tax levy cap with a 4.76 percent increase, fell short of a 60 percent supermajority with 52.4 percent yes votes.

With the budget failed, administrators and the Board of Education must go back to the table and propose a budget that does not exceed the tax levy cap. In recent presentations, the district forecasted the possible loss of clubs and athletics with a budget that does not pierce the tax levy cap. A budget revote will be held in the coming weeks.

In the Board of Education election, the two seats were won by Donna Compagnone, with 955 votes, and Lynn Capobianco, with 801 votes. John Yavorka earned 768 votes, Marnie Kula 604 and Deborah Lang 603 each.

Another Mount Sinai Resident May 20, 2012 at 01:24 PM
I'm thinkin' there are plenty of unemployed teachers that would love a job that are equally qualified for fair salary. If they think they can do better elsewhere, I say adois and good luck to you!!
boris becker May 20, 2012 at 02:46 PM
Another Jealous Resident and Janet, Congrats on being the Mt. Sinai teacher bashing coalition. So to review, all was quiet and well while you were making money and the economy was well. Being in the private sector you were likely making a nice salary (I'm guessing you invested heavily into your education like teachers. somewhere in the neighborhood of 80k plus). Now, the economy has been dragging and you haven't got a raise. Meanwhile, teachers in Mt. Sinai have forfeited their raises, increased the percentage they pay on their benefits, and even forfeited their progressive pay steps, all in order to help the district cope with the financial woes. Further, the governor has cut funding in the hundreds of thousands and millions, thus taking the burden off his budget and putting on your back. Now, instead of you questioning why Mr. Cuomo is hammering away at educational funding, you insist on crucifying your neighbors and local teachers. You did not have a problem a couple years ago, but now since the state and the media have brainwashed you into hating your teachers, you have taken the bait. Well in reading some of your posts, you come across as someone who is jealous of teachers, someone who is not knowledgeable about district revenue, someone who is unhappy with their choices, and frankly a complainer to put it mildly. So do yourself a favor and spend some time reading about what has gone on with funding and don't be a slave to Newsday. And I'm not even a teacher
Concerned resident May 20, 2012 at 03:28 PM
Poor collective bargaining over many years has destroyed this school district. The teachers are compensated among the very highest on Long Island. Administrative compensation is out of control - and do you ever see these administrators? Some deserve what they are getting and more. Others on that list are a joke. It would take 7 to 10 years of freezes to bring these salaries in line with the norm for Suffolk County.
Wlodek May 20, 2012 at 04:15 PM
Boris Becker, You are making too many inaccurate statements about people you don't know. Seems that it is easier than addressing the real issue of unaffordable school taxes. Sorry, but nothing justifies $407,090 compensation of the superintendent. The fact is, as stated by Concerned resident, that the compensation is out of control. This is just a pure math, nothing to do with reading Newsday, which I do not read.
Captain Howard Hawrey May 20, 2012 at 05:43 PM
Kudos, to the Patch and many forms of new social media for helping residents voice their opinions and become better informed about our school budgets. Unfortunately it took a budget to fail for many to learn about the real outrageous numbers involved. As a MP resident I wish you Mt. Sinai residents well in getting this resolved. Some of the numbers I'm reading are staggering. Hope you all can eventually "trim the fat". We need to do it in our district as well.
Anton May 20, 2012 at 06:46 PM
The fact is NY has one of the highest per-pupil expenditure rates in the country (>$18000) and one of the lowest graduation rates (72%). Other states are doing much better with much less per-pupil spending -- Utah spends $6300 pp for the same graduation rate. NJ has an 87% grad rate and spends $16,000 pp. Cuomo is doing the right thing bringing these costs under control. We are NOT getting what we are paying for. There is enough money in education right now, the districts just have to learn to spend it properly. Of course it takes a financial crisis for something to get done, there is no motivation to do so when there's plenty of money around. There is alot of anti-teacher sentiment around here, which I don't completely agree with (except for when they make idiotic, condescending statements). This is a failure of leadership...union and political leaders who create these lovely contracts to get reelected and care nothing about our future ability to sustain what they have negotiated. They only care about getting reelected, that's all...don't fool youselves and think they care about "the people." I don't blame teachers for going along with these contracts...hell, you'd be an idiot not to agree to no contributions to pension, paying a fraction of health care costs, guaranteed raises no matter what the economy is doing..but they have to realize now that it is unsustainable without tax increases we can no longer afford. My taxes went from $10k to $14.5k in just 7 yrs
work,live&lovein mt sinai May 20, 2012 at 08:32 PM
I don't read newsday...I still think....no I KNOW that there is gross mis-spending in this district .I'm not jealous either- & it don't sound like YOU are that knowledgeable about the district
boris becker May 20, 2012 at 11:45 PM
Wlodek, Sure, let's talk fact. The fact is that 407k is too much for a super, and all who work in the district would likely agree. The fact is that you have had the opportunity to speak about salaries in the district for decades. So, where have you been? These salary numbers have been going up for years, but you were not concerned. Why? You could've stopped "the madness" years ago. Why didn't you? Perhaps you were too busy making money in your own profession, and you're not making quite as much now. It is called a recession, and that is why the FACT is that there is a hard freeze in this district for the next few years. Did you know that teachers have to vote on whether to receive this freeze? Wow, they voted yes because they understand the current economic situation. And as for my speaking about other people, when rants sound like the cover of Newsday for the last two years, which is to say that they lack depth and the "other" side of the story, I will make a judgement about someones argument. Teachers have to read the junk you and your buddies come out with, and any response from them is brushed to the side as arrogant and driven by greed. Let me know the website that is attacking your profession right now, I would love to comment on it. Another Fact about this profession is that it is critical to the future of our society. Teachers are responsible for something very valuable, human development. Sorry you have to pay for that.
boris becker May 20, 2012 at 11:50 PM
Anton, Look at the numbers from LI without including the rest of NY, most significantly NYC. Using NYS as a whole is pointless when discussing and comparing LI.
Tom May 20, 2012 at 11:50 PM
Well I'm glad to see teachers took a freeze. Now lets start paying for health insurance like the rest of us do as well a s too much for school taxes.
Anton May 21, 2012 at 03:17 AM
You are correct, these are the numbers for the state as a whole, but it is still a problem, no? Cuomo had to do what he did to control the spending in this state, which you have to agree, is out of control.
Anton May 21, 2012 at 03:31 AM
Not completely true...we actually have no say in contract negotiations, not directly. We vote for the board members, who supposedly represent us during these discussions, but for the most part we are not permitted to be directly involved. I even asked board members in my district if I could be present for and participate in these negotiations, and I was told, "NO, these discussions occur behind closed doors between lawyers." I've been going to budget workshops for years, and any suggestion I made (none having anything to do with salaries) was blown off and ignored. Only in the last 2 years have I seen some progress. You are making assumptions that we are "not making quite as much," which I can say personally is not the case. I became more concerned as I watched my taxes increase 40% in 7 years to almost $15000..if that trend continued, I would be at $21000 in another 7 years. Ridiculous. I guess I should just drink 6000 less cups of coffee over the next 7 years...
Anton May 21, 2012 at 04:07 AM
If Mt. Sinai resident got together and said, "Let's cut admin salaries by 10% and save all of the clubs/sports/etc. you plan to cut," how do you think that would work out?
MSDad4 May 21, 2012 at 02:34 PM
It sounds like MS has a rather large reserve fund. If these new teacher contracts are 'saving' the district $6mm+ won't that help rebuild rebuild the reserves? Why wouldn't MS tap into the reserve fund a little bit more to restore some of the programs. It is bizarre to see a district 'cry wolf' when they are sitting on so much $$$. I am not suggesting deplete the account, just suggesting using a bit more.
Janet May 21, 2012 at 06:46 PM
Boris Becker, No I am not JEALOUS I am ANGRY, and have been for years. I believe that teachers and administrators are outrageously overpaid. My opinion and apparently many others feel the same. You have no idea who I am or what my life is like. Yet you judge me so I will fill you in. I am a controller for a small LI corporation and am very happy to still have a job. I have not had any raise since 2007 and make less money now than I did in 2007 and pay more towards my benefits. I also have a part time job so I can afford to continue to live here. I am sick & tired of hearing the phrase "for the children" when it is obvious it is NOT for the children because if it was the teacher & admin would agree to deeper cuts in their compensation packages, especially the steps, rather than cut the programs. I have been voting no on the Miller Place budget for 35 years since I have always believed that LI teachers were overcompesated and underworked and I can voice my opinion at board meetings but I can't have a say in contract negotiations. I can tell you all with sincerity that this entire situation has made me realize that I live in the wrong area of the country. I have finally convinced my husband that when we retire we need to move to a place where we will not be judged as ignorant because we are tired of paying for a segment of the commumity who thinks they are superior to us.
Lisacastalano May 22, 2012 at 12:53 AM
Does anyone know how is Mt sinai Rated versus other school on the island? On that list of 100 schools published once a year where does the school place? I am curious
Janet May 22, 2012 at 02:11 AM
Go to usnews.com. Perhaps that will help you. Mt Sinai and Miller Place were unrated but the college readiness % was not good. I belive Mt. Sinai was 34.5% and Miller Place was 43.5%
Alicia Palifka May 22, 2012 at 01:40 PM
Amen @Don't Tread on Me !!!
Mount Sinai Resident May 23, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Not everyone in Mount Sinai can afford additional taxes. Not everyone in Mount Sinai is weathering the economic crunch well. Some are suffering the loss of jobs. Some are starting "home businesses" to make ends meet. To say that Mt. Sinai is a very wealthy school district would be an error. We do have some very wealthy families but they are not a "cross section" of the community. I am not against the budget, but I am against a chief administrator who for some reason gets "double" the salary he should be. It's no secret what he gets and no one has the "guts" to say how outrageous his salary is. The purpose of having "only one" person at the top was to reduce costs when it was determined that the job could be done by only one person. That said, I think everyone knows who I am referring to. He may be a charming person and friend to many, but if he had was concerned for the children in our schools, he would take a 40 percent pay cut. I have looked at the salaries most of the faculty receives and I really didn't see anything unusual for the number of years some of them have been serving the community. I hope the next Superintendent is not brought in with the same salary. It might not make a difference immediately, but over the years it will.
Mount Sinai Resident May 23, 2012 at 03:58 PM
Amen! Amen! Amen! Thank you for saying it. I have also left a comment regarding his outrageous salary.
Mount Sinai Resident May 23, 2012 at 04:35 PM
There is another individual in the administration (initials L.J.) whose salary is pretty close to the president's. How ridiculous is that? The teachers' salaries should not be affected. They are facing the same rise in costs in everything like the rest of us. Please let's just look a little closer to the unnecessary positions that have been added and the current salaries of "top" administrators. Did we decide on whether we needed 2 Assist. Principals in the Elementary?
Jim May 24, 2012 at 01:36 AM
Where is the information regarding Mount Sinai's college readiness percentage? What exactly is that percentage representative of? If I am reading your posting correctly, it seems to imply that only 34.5% of students graduating from Mount Sinai High school are appropriately prepared for college. As a parent of three children who attend/have attended Mount Sinai High School, I can attest to the fact that my children were well prepared for college. My children graduated with over 30 college credits each due to the number of AP classes and college level courses they were able to take at Mount Sinai High School. My third child will also be graduating with a minimum of 20 college credits. Moreover, each of my children received multiple merit schollarship ofers based on the strength of their academic achievements, all due to the excellent teachers and programs offered by Mount Sinai. So I am very curious as to where I can access the statistics you are quoting. I would like further information from the source regarding what exactly this percentage is representative of; what data was used to generate these numbers; how valid is this study; etc. If you would post the link, it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
Middle Class M.S. Mom May 24, 2012 at 08:17 PM
"Mount Sinai Residen" When you say "administrators have agreed to pay freezes", did you mean that all of the district's administrators had already agreed to a salary freeze in this particular budget, or just that they have in the past? Please clarify. Would you also happen to know how much our new Superintendent will be making per this year's budget? I'd appreciate the information if you, or someone else has it. Thanks.
Middle Class M.S. Mom May 24, 2012 at 08:48 PM
Oh, and I'm sure it's possible that many of Mt. Sinai's residents are misinformed. It's pretty difficult to make an informed decision about the budget of a school district when you have very little information to go on. I've tried finding the answers to my questions on the school's website and gotten nowhere. They did send out 1 flyer with some numbers on it, but I didn't feel like that single page flyer really told the whole story. Instead of spoon feeding us the bare minimum that they can get away with a day before the vote, perhaps next year they could spend some more time educating the voters & less time on condescending threats. I don't think we would have had anything near the uproar we've experienced this year if we had'nt received those obnoxious red & black flyers screaming "Vote yes or else!". Every person I've spoken to could not believe the audacity, and was totally offended by that letter. So much so, that people who've ALWAYS voted yes, voted no because of it. I'll be attending the next budget meeting, but it would also be nice if next year residents who are unable to make it were given the same respect as those who can.
Jim May 25, 2012 at 10:22 PM
On the Mount Sinai School District Website there is a link on the top entitled "Board of Education." There is a drop down menu with links to information on BOE Members, Meeting Dates and Minutes, Budget Information, and State Audit Informationn. Under the Budget Information link, the following information is available. (Under each, there is an extensive amount of information regarding the budget. As I was unable to attend many board meetings, I found this information invaluable in allowing me to make an informed decision regarding the budget vote.) 2012-2013 Budget Presentations: January 19, 2012 - Presentation February 15, 2012 - Presentation March 14, 2012 - Presentation April 2, 2012 - Forum Presentation April 18, 2012 - Presentation May 8, 2012 -Budget Hearing Presentation Budget Fact Sheet 2012-2013 Budget Brochure Questions and Answers about the Budget 2012-2014 2 Year Technology Plan Questions and Answers with a Resident
Wlodek May 25, 2012 at 10:50 PM
A 2x4 (like a 2x4 piece of lumber) method of getting parent's attention in Mt. Sinai schools. Please read the letter of a Mt. Sinai parent and a response form a school official, who did not sign it, on how Mt. Sinai gets parents' attention. This is a real eye opener. Any ideas who the school official is? Take a look. http://www.mtsinai.k12.ny.us/boe/budget/12-13/Q%20&%20A%20with%20a%20resident.pdf
Middle Class M.S. Mom May 26, 2012 at 02:26 AM
Thanks Jim & Wlodek. Interesting information. I'll continue to research and take it into consideration.
work,live&lovein mt sinai May 26, 2012 at 02:42 AM
Tony Bonesera wrote that
JCW June 19, 2012 at 05:20 PM
I moved to Mt. Sinai in 1969 and I will still vote the Budget down. Also I have had kids go to this school. Why don't you move to a more expensive district?
JCW June 19, 2012 at 05:28 PM
I agree that it is more the administrators than the teachers salries that is the problem.


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