The Mount Sinai School Board met on Thursday to adopt the revised budget after the original New York State tax cap-piercing budget to pass.
According to Linda Jensen, Mount Sinai's Assistant Superintendent for Business, the board adopted a new budget in the amount of $54,629,115. The adoption of the budget was the only item on the agenda. The new budget will now need a simple majority (over 50 percent) to pass and brings a loss of some clubs and athletics.
In after the original budget failed, Bonasera said that Mount Sinai lost about four million dollars in state aid and assessment levy and the district turned to piercing the cap in order to keep the current programs in place.
– said that the original budget was not a failure.
“The budget actually succeeded because it represents the wishes of the community,” Crocetti said.
On Tuesday, June 12 at 8 p.m. in the Mount Sinai Middle School auditorium there will be a public hearing on the new budget. The public will vote on the revised budget on Tuesday, June 19 from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the Mount Sinai Elementary School gymnasium. For further information, contact the District Clerk at (631) 870-2554.
In a question and answer document posted on the school district’s website some issues and concerns have been addressed.
Highlights of the new budget include:
- New budget is $735,000 less than the previously presented budget
- Revised budget will be $292,790 (-.51%) lower than the 2011-2012 school budget
- A new teacher's association contract saved 1.3 million dollars for next year
- Tax rate increase of 2.13 percent
- Average monthly increase of $13.40
- One level of all teams for each sport will be fielded at the Middle School level with the exception of Gymnastics
- High School teams will continue with the exception of Varsity Gymnastics, Varsity Bowling, Varsity Swimming, Junior Varsity Boys Golf, and Junior Varsity Girls Tennis based on cost analysis and student involvement
- Items such as new uniforms, extra reconditioning, expenses for awards, banners, invitational fees, etc. are being replaced in the budget by fielding Middle School teams
- Principals will be given about 15 percent for clubs and activities
- School will charge fees to the public for use of the fields and buildings
Read the full Q&A below from the school district’s website.
Will the district have a revote on the budget?
Yes, the vote is scheduled for Tuesday, June 19 at the Elementary School Gym from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Will the budget be revised?
Yes, the Board will present a budget that is $735,000 less than the previously presented budget. The new budget will fall at the property tax levy cap. As such, only a simple majority (50% +1) will be needed to pass the budget. The revised budget will be $292,790 (-.51%) lower than the 11-12 school budget.
Why didn’t the prior budget fall within the cap?
The vast majority of residents who communicated with us desired a continuation of the same programs for their children in 2012-13 as they had this year. That desire would be impossible within the cap limit. Remember, the budget that was originally proposed only increased .8 percent after the teacher's association new contract saved 1.3 million dollars next year and other non-program spending cuts were made.
By what will the average tax bill change?
We expect the tax rate to increase by 2.13% resulting in an average monthly increase of $13.40. Even with a lower budget the tax rate rises due to lower aid from the State and lower home assessments.
Will all the programs previously identified to be eliminated be excluded in this new budget?
No. The most difficult thing the Board and administration have to do is make program reductions. This process has involved looking at all aspects of the program and suggestions from the community.
How will you fund what was initially slated to cut?
The initial thinking on program reductions was to run those high school sports and extracurricular programs that were to be carried forward as if the budget had passed. Since that did not occur, the Board has rethought its position and is attempting to field as many teams as possible and cut the athletic and extracurricular budgets in areas that do not impact the students’ participation. For example, new uniform purchases, extra reconditioning, expenses for awards, banners, invitational fees, etc. are now being replaced in the budget by fielding middle school teams. As for clubs, the high school budget for under-subscribed clubs will be reduced with the money going toward middle school and elementary school clubs and activities. Donations from school based organizations and other group/individuals will be used for new uniform purchases, extra reconditioning, etc.
Questions and Answers about the Revised Budget
Will the cuts discussed in meetings leading up to the first budget vote be imposed?
In part yes, since we will need to reduce our expenses on an already tight budget for 2012-13. As discussed above, the Board has had to look at ALL programs in a straightforward cost benefit analysis to provide the most for the students within the required expenditure. Under-subscribed clubs and reductions of approximately 15% for the high school and middle school as well as the elimination of athletic programs involving higher costs due to off site activity may allow us to keep some activities and sports. We also have looked at how to keep as many athletics, clubs, and activities through the elimination of other expenses that may be able to be put off or, as suggested by the community, paid for through fund raising (i.e., new uniform purchases, extra reconditioning, expenses for awards, banners, invitational fees, etc.) without running afoul of “pay for play restrictions” and other legal restrictions.
What teams will be in place next year?
The High School teams will continue with the exception of Varsity Gymnastics, Varsity Bowling, Varsity Swimming, Junior Varsity Boys Golf, and Junior Varsity Girls Tennis based on cost analysis and student involvement. These cuts, as difficult as they may be, along with some additional funds released from savings will allow additional teams to play at the Middle School Level. At the Middle School we plan on fielding one level of all teams with the exception of Gymnastics.
Will student clubs be offered?
Again, the same analysis has been done as with athletics. Under-subscribed clubs will have to be eliminated. The building principals shall be given approximately 15% less for all as many clubs and activities to remain as possible within the budget constraints. It is expected that the clubs and activities are specifically academic in orientation (i.e. student government, math Olympiads) or involved in performing arts (i.e. jazz band). Each principal will be given a budget and once the aforementioned clubs are in place, if there is additional money they will determine what clubs to offer based on participation. Even at this level some of the clubs may require community fund raising to support some of their needs that may fall outside of the basic budget (programs, purchase of music or costumes, special sets etc.).
Will there be charges or fees for field and facility use?
Yes. It has been determined, in an effort to cut cost and find other revenue sources to support program, that it will be necessary to charge fees to the public for use of the fields and buildings. The Town fee was looked at as a guide only. Building use fees are in place at the present time. They will be modified to apply to all users on a $50 an hour basis that is paid at the time of application based on scheduled use. Inside building use will be hourly for all use. Outside field use fees shall apply ONLY to scheduled games and camps. Fees will not be charged for practice use nor will fees be charged to school based organization activities.
Why don’t you use money in the fund balance to pay for those reductions?
This budget, and the prior budget, already uses sizeable contributions from those funds to help balance the budget to keep taxes down. The present budget shall pull some of the recent grant allocations this year rather than having those dollars left over to use in 2013-14. This addition of money from our savings and cuts allow as much of the sports, clubs and activities to remain as possible (in their stripped-down form) with the hope of community support through fund raising above what is already enjoyed from the PTO, FOA and Booster Club to date. Remember though, the use of fund balance to subsidize the budget was appropriate prior to the cap legislation. We must continue to make efforts to reduce our reliance on the artificial support provided by the fund balance since it cannot be replenished as in the past due the tax levy cap. The money should no longer be used for reoccurring expenses like teams or clubs.
Will the Board accept donations?
Yes, we will set-up a mechanism in the budget that meets legal restrictions to accommodate community support through fund raising. This process will allow us to spend only what we take in through legal donations. There will be no additional cost to the taxpayer.
Why couldn’t these cuts and donations be done for the first budget?
The elimination and reduction of program, as outlined above, including the loss of funds for equipment, non-mandated events such as an invitational, and other costs associated but not “necessary” for basic program is a lessening of the program offered. The budget reflecting these cuts relies heavily on outside activity and community support. It is also much more short term in nature that the original budget presented on May 15, 2012.
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