Rocky Point Superintendent's Budget Exceeds Tax Cap, Avoids Cuts

Proposed budget would exceed the tax levy cap while maintaining all programs. Levy increase not determined until State budget is given.

Rocky Point Superintendent Michael Ring proposed a $71,574,012 budget for 2012-13, an increase of 2.97 percent from last year's budget, Monday night at .

Ring announced during the presentation that the budget will exceed the tax levy cap, which comes to a 1.84 percent increase for the district. The exact levy was not determined, however, and is pending announcement of the New York State budget. The state budget will also determine the exact state aid for the district.

"I'm not going to take a guess at it right now because there are a couple of things that will determine it," Ring said. "Not knowing what the amounts will be, I don’t want to speculate."

The budget presentation estimates that state aid will be at $22 million based on recent trends, though the actual number could be more or less. The proposed budget maintains all curricular and co-curricular activities, adds five Advanced Placement courses and continues the district's NEXT Step initiative.

"Im proud of the district's continuing commitment to providing the best, most comprehensive education that we can and we continue to do it at the lowest cost of any district in Suffolk County," Board president Michael Nofi said. "We deliver a 'full service menu' if you will, to our students, which many districts are not able to do at this time."

Also presented were potential outcomes if the levy stayed at the cap of 1.84 percent and all other estimates and costs remained the same. Reductions  included 13.5 full-time employees, athletics and all co-curricular activites at , school and the middle school.

A handful of community members addressed the budget, with some voicing support and others addressing concerns about the levy increase. A budget that exceeds the tax levy cap must be passed by a supermajority of 60 percent. Last year's district budget, which included a tax levy increase of close to five percent, passed by 67 percent.

"I'm proud to be part of a community that has supported [us] and I'd hope that they continue to do so," Nofi said.

Monday's complete budget presentation can be viewed on the district's website. The board will adopt a budget on April 18.

What do you think of the Superintendent's proposal? Tell us in the comments below.

Anton March 30, 2012 at 05:01 AM
Lots of interesting stuff "Why won't MP pierce the cap," you ask? I moved here 8 years ago, and was paying $10k/yr in taxes. Next year I will be paying $15k. A 50% increase over an 9-yr period, and for what? A lower ranking in the state (232/682 last I checked), less programs for the kids, less teachers...but we have a brand new admin building!! I'm tired of being told I should just suck it up and pay so employees can have Cadillac health plans and pay as little as 0% of the cost, get raises every year regardless of the current economic conditions or performance (or lack thereof) of the district. Give up the raise like the rest of have. Pay 25% of your health insurance like the rest of us do. Fill your own retirement system back up, like the rest of us had to when the market crashed (those of who are lucky enough to have a retirement fund). Enough. When things turn around, we can talk about raises again. I don't blame teachers for what's going on, I blame your leaders; however you must realize this path we are on is unsustainable...if we stay on this path, who is going to be able to afford living here?
MP Majority March 30, 2012 at 11:38 AM
We have many great teachers and many great Administrators in our district. Additionally, not unlike other districts and private industry, we have some really poor teachers and some very poor Administrators. The MPTA and Administration protects these poor performers needlessly, and this must stop. If the bottom line is educating our children, we need to have a mechanism in place that eliminates the poor performers; not a system that rewards them and perpetuates mediocrity. For crying out loud, we have teachers and administrators in our district who cannot spell or write properly. Is this something we need to pay for?
MatthewD March 30, 2012 at 11:48 AM
I was at this meeting and am amazed at how little is being said in the media about the fact that no attempt is being made to get concessions from the teachers and adminsitrators as a way to avoid piercing the tax cap. At the meeting one woman asked these questions and was met with attacks. She asked why nothing has been done about increasing how much teachers pay for their medical insurance. It seems currently teachers only pay 15% of their health insurance and it's been this way for years. Those of us in the private sector have had to take pay freezes, increase what we pay for health insurance, and at the same time continue paying for health plans that most of us can only dream of. And for those of you who believe the comments often made by teachers that they pay taxes too, think about this: When nearly 70% of school taxes go toward salaries and benefits, this means that 70% of what you pay and what they pay goes right back into their pockets. A teacher actually had the nerve to get up and say that 20 years ago they did make concessions and gave up dental and eye coverage! And he did this facing the young woman rather than directing his comments to the Board and to the assembly.
MatthewD March 30, 2012 at 11:50 AM
Likewise, a the same meeting, when this woman asked why part of the salary of the union president is paid by taxpayer funds, the union president yelled out "I'm here!" Was that done to intimidate her? I think these are legitimate questions. But I can see how the way she was treated would make others afraid to speak up. Someone got up to "defend" the union president, again addressing his comments to the woman rather than to the Board. Was this also done to intimidate her? But we need to speak up. At the rate things are going what's going to happen in 10 years. Will any of us be able to live here? A plea by another woman to consider this was totally ignored by the Board. I don't think any reasonable person is against a great education for our kids. But educators need to also look at how business as usual is affecting the whole community.
MP Majority March 30, 2012 at 11:57 AM
Lisa, we have many great teachers in our district. You may very well be one of them. This is largely an economic issue and not personal. I have seen my taxes more than double during my lifetime in MP, and I still have kids attending our schools. I have seen my 401K ravaged due to the credit crisis, and have not received subsidies from anyone to repair the damage. I see 15% year-over-year increases in health benefits, yet I am the one who has to absorb this. You are totally forgetting the economic aspect of this. You want raises, and you want your benefits intact; essentially, you are expecting these "entitlements", when in fact, the marketplace is telling you otherwise. People in private industry have to absorb the issues I just stated, yet you "expect" these things to continue. There is a glut of teachers on the market now who would love to have your job at 1/2 your pay, yet you expect us to continue to pay you increases year in and year out, when the market tells us otherwise? Paying more again and again for taxes is no guarantee of better quality education. It is not a linear relationship. We need to spend smarter, not just continue to spend more in aggregate, to feed the "entitlement" beast. We are in the business of educating our children; not guaranteeing subsidies for our workers. That is our primary objective.
J March 30, 2012 at 12:12 PM
It's obvious you need no help in being dumb!
MPmustChange March 30, 2012 at 12:43 PM
MatthewD: What you are describing is what happened to Miller Place last year at this time. Some residents got up to speak and express their disagreement to the teachers CPI raise and contract extension. These few residents wer "heckled" by the head of the MPTA and union reps. Remember, you can always vote "NO"!
MPmustChange March 30, 2012 at 12:58 PM
MP Majority March 30, 2012 at 01:04 PM
The days of Union strongholds are numbered. I'm not talking about MP, I'm talking about everywhere. Economic forces (ya know, supply/demand) are starting to dictate how these groups can or cannot negotiate. Taxpayers can no longer stand paying 85% of all health benefits, and cannot absorb the recklessness of the state comptroller's office when managing state pension funds, and having to pay for the pension shortfalls. Taxpayers are no longer intimidated by unions' demands and threats, because there is an army of unemployed teachers who would be willing to work for 1/2 their pay, waiting in the wings. If Administration and MPTA are not aware of these economic forces, then they are without a clue. But, I think they are much smarter than that, and they know that their livelihoods and future are at stake as well. The economic times are dictating all of this, and you cannot fight economic forces. Speaking up at the meetings and speaking up at the forums are great, but your ultimate ability to speak up is on May 15th in the voting booth. That's how you voice your opinion loudest. We have 2 very practical and business-oriented BOE members now, and they are fighting very hard on their own valuable time to do what is right and most practical. These are bad times economically, but good times ahead for us moving forward, at MP. The people are speaking, and we ultimately will make the BEST decisions for our kids.
Anton March 30, 2012 at 06:46 PM
This is politics as usual. We are paying the salary of the person who is on the other side of the negotiating table, working against our children. Good stuff. "I'm here!" I love it...of course this was meant to intimidate. These people are supposed to be serving us -- they are emplyed BY US! Unfortunately, they only serve to better their own pocketbooks, get re-elected, etc.. Nobody should ever feel intimidated when speaking out about the people WE PAY to do a job! I liken this our lawmakers voting for their own pay raises. Any public servant's raise should be voted on by the people they serve -- if we are happy with the job they are doing, they will get a raise. This is supposed to be a democracy!!
Anton March 31, 2012 at 12:17 AM
Wow, unbelievable. It's this kind of condescending attitiude that I just can't stand. Read what you wrote and realize that YOU come across as the arrogant @$$! We all have lives here, we're not giving up and moving. Please enlighten us with your vast knowledge of the issues, I'd love to hear your perspective. Explain to us what is really going on.
localmom March 31, 2012 at 12:26 AM
My guess is that the contractual agreement and its amendments are not public record, but I'm not sure. That said, Dr. Ring makes much less than superintendents of neighboring districts. Plus, he does the job of two people because they did not reassign all of his prior duties as finance committee chair (prior to taking the super job).The chair position was filled, but the work was not all reassigned, from what I'm able to ascertain. One of his very first moves in office as super. was to save us $3M by opening up the HS building contract to bid. He also recently, along w/ our BOE members, got $2.4M reinstated from the state after the previous administration filed incorrectly, losing that aid for us back before any of our current admin. was in office for. We didn't have to borrow the funds to do the projects, because, via their careful planning, we had a savings to pay for it. IMO the current BOE and super are finally taking us in the direction our district has been needing to go for many, many years--towards fiscal responsibility. Take a look at the neighboring districts and you'll see much larger compensation packages with much less performance. Call him overpaid if you want, but, if ever found not employed by our district, I believe other districts will line up to snatch him up so he can turn their suffering financials around, too. I just hope we get to hold on to him and his skill set for many years to come.
Wlodek March 31, 2012 at 01:17 AM
To localmom. All contracts including their amendments are public record and can be obtained just file a request with the Rocky Point School District. In fact we the taxpayers should demand that all contracts are posted on each school district's web site for all of us to see. Regarding other things you wrote, it seems that Dr. Ring is just doing the job he was hired and is being paid for. Bidding the $3 million construction contract is required by law, so I do not see anything exceptional there. I am quite surprised that you did not mention Dr. Ring's private bathroom and life insurance policy paid for his life time, not just while he works for Rocky Point SD.
localmom March 31, 2012 at 01:20 AM
Ted, It's a good thing you reveal your tongue-in-cheek when calling me Mrs. Ring. Otherwise my REAL husband would track you down and throw you a beatin' ;0) But seriously, correct me if I'm wrong, but Dr. Ring was not a super in the 2009/2010 school year. That is why the step-wise increase in pay (half of 2010 was a lower position, and 2011 was the first year of full-time superintendent (plus his other duties not relinquished from previous job as finance committee member). So it was a promotion, not just a raise for doing the same work. That said, read my response to rpmom above dated today. It outlines all kinds of savings (and not even all of them) we've benefitted from during his tenure here. He is taking us in the right direction--as much as the legislation allows, that is. Are you familiar with the Triborough amendment? Bargaining from a legislated disadvantage has drastically contributed to the skyrocketing school budget spending. Until that is repealed, fiscal improvements will take place veeeeeery ssssllllooooowwwlllllyyy. I am very much a fiscal conservative and would love to see much more common sense in our budgets (who wants to see class size increase, programs cut for students, taxes raised--all while staff gets multiple raises/year--year after year???) I believe, based on performance, Dr. Ring is the person to get it done, so that everyone can win, and share in the sacrifice as well as success, as much as possible--but it's not going to be overnight.
localmom March 31, 2012 at 01:27 AM
I'm confused: how is not getting a raise the equivalent to "subsidizing the education of MP students." Not getting a raise is not the same as taking a pay cut where I work. One means you get the same pay for the same job as last year. The other means you get less pay for the same job as last year.
localmom March 31, 2012 at 01:33 AM
Teachers get an additional financial stipend for being club advisors. In RP, the PTA had a program the volunteers had set up taken away (after much of the work had been done) from them b/c the teachers' union contract said it had to go to a teacher who must receive a stipend. I don't believe anyone has said your teacher is not a good teacher. However, to answer your last question, the reason MP is cutting clubs, sports and faculty is precisely because of the high cost of staff salaries and benefits. It is an economic fact. Roughly 2/3 of our property tax bill is for the school district--an extremely large portion of that goes to salaries and benefits. So, you do the math.
Wlodek March 31, 2012 at 01:33 AM
To localmom again. The first best step Dr. Ring could take in order to bring the RP school budget in order is to propose a budget within the tax cap and without any cuts. This would prove his true leadership. Dr. Ring's proposed budget takes the easy way out, it passes to cost onto the taxpayer.
Wlodek March 31, 2012 at 01:35 AM
To localmom. Glad to see that we agree on few issues.
localmom March 31, 2012 at 01:41 AM
Except one thing, Ted: if I'm not mistaken, the budget vote is separate from the contract negotiation w/ staff. Plus, like I said in another post, the Triborough Amendment states that all NYS public employees get their benefits in perpetuity. If a contract expires, the perks and bennies continue--with raise upon raise for the entire time there is not a contract. Not much reason for the union bosses to "come to the middle ground". And when you have union bosses like the late, great Al Shanker (former prez of the AFT) say, "when the school children pay union dues, that's when I'll represent the interests of the school children", and give them legislated advantage over their negotiating counterparts, it is extremely difficult to make big changes quickly.
localmom March 31, 2012 at 01:51 AM
Well said, Captain!
john doe March 31, 2012 at 01:54 AM
Ratter, your continued self righteous talk and overconfident tone tell an endless tale. For others commenting above, to think that district employees are attempting to defend one another at a meeting? I guess teachers should just let community members, whose extent of information comes from daily editions of Newsday, stand up bash them. If you could provide some legitimate points about why I should vote no I would listen, but your continued aimless bantering isn't doing the job!
localmom March 31, 2012 at 02:06 AM
Actually, Anton, it's a republic. But I hear you. You may not realize it, but I agree w/ you. I am just also aware of NYS legislation that works in a biased way toward public sector labor against the tax payer. Change will not happen overnight and we will not have immediate common sense solutions, but peel away at the expensive onion we will until a truly reasonable compromise is made.
localmom March 31, 2012 at 02:09 AM
As if a union equates to academic excellence. "When the school children pay union dues, that's when I'll represent the interest of the school children." --the late, "great" Al Shanker (former American Federation of Teachers president) If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you can't, thank a teachers' union.
localmom March 31, 2012 at 02:13 AM
Wlodek, I really don't care about a private bathroom that's already there and doesn't cost a dime to us now. And you may not believe this, but I'm actually on your side. I just don;t think you realize that Dr. Ring is too. IMO, dollars spent on him as compared to dollars he's saved us, Dr. Ring is a bargain compared to other districts (and no, I don't think upwards of $200K is a real 'bargain", but you get my point.
localmom March 31, 2012 at 02:16 AM
Don't jump to conclusions, Wlodek. We agree on more than you realize, I'm guessing from your posts.
localmom March 31, 2012 at 02:27 AM
When I am in town and hear a local teacher in my district complain that "the school board, in their infinite wisdom, decided not to give us a raise this year", but find out they DID get a $1000 raise (while those paying for it have taken pay CUTS or have lost jobs), then I do believe that SOME teachers are to blame for some of this. Not all, but some. It starts with an honest debate. If you can't be honest about your argument, then you have no real argument. Given the choice between a pay raise and your sports/ clubs, which do you think they'd choose?
localmom March 31, 2012 at 02:40 AM
Kathy Hogan March 31, 2012 at 01:04 PM
Someone here threatened violence against Ted Ratter. I think that shows what these school districts have been becoming. I hope that post gets deleted. Even to jokingly mention sending your husband to beat someone up tells boat loads about the attitude many in the district have about their taxpayers. Ted is right the servants are becoming dictators. You simply can't disagree with anything they want. They become angry and want to strike out at you like that teacher Lisa calling me bitter because I didn't like being told to cut out starbucks and brown bag my lunch to afford taxes. I don't go to starbuck now and already bag my lunch and that really hurt me. Telling me to leave if I have a problem paying taxes to is really uncalled for. Is that really their only answer they have? Mr. Ratter I checked out your link and google thing. I'm sorry you had to go through that even if somehow your job requires it and you don't seem to have minded it. I never knew that was going on over there and it looked really bad.
Lisa March 31, 2012 at 01:11 PM
Kathy I have no idea what that post about starbucks is. You need to go back and read the post honey. I was referring to your tone. LIsa
localmom March 31, 2012 at 01:14 PM
Seriously, Kathy, you have me all wrong. Read my posts. I am very much NOT one of those ppl of our schools w/ a bad attitude towards the taxpayers. In fact, I AM one of those taxpayers who has been advocating for change in FAVOR of the tax payers and the school children. I think if you read my posts, you'll realize that and you'll see that, clearly, Ted and I were joking around with each other.


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