HHH School Budget Draft: Freeze Salaries, Avoid Teacher Layoffs

Budget draft calls for a $215.8 million spending plan next year, a 3.8 percent increase.

Half Hollow Hills school administrators have unveiled a $215.8 million budget for next year, a 3.8 percent increase, with an emphasis on avoiding the massive layoffs currently plaguing districts across Long Island.

Victor Manuel, assistant superintendent for finance and facilities, gave a presentation at the Board of Education meeting Monday night at Otsego Elementary School, explaining exactly what was going to be cut and why. 

The budget for 2010-11 (this school year) is $207.9 million. Manuel explained that if they rolled over the budget exactly "as is" it would be $221.8 million, an increase of 6.8 percent.

That wouldn't be acceptable to the residents, he said. And there are a few budget increases that the district has no control over: a NYS health insurance premium, which would increase the budget 1.2 percent and NYS mandated contributions to the retirement system of 1.7 percent.

"We don't set those," Manuel said. "Those are the budget drivers. Those two numbers are most of the budget increase right there. So we worked very hard to keep the rest of the numbers as low as possible."

The balance of the budget increases are only .24 percent, Manuel said.

"We asked ourselves, what can we eliminate with the least possible impact to the residents?" he said. 

They came up with budget reductions of close to $6 million from the original rollover amount. Teacher and administrator salaries are frozen, saving $3 million. Enrollment is down in the elementary schools, so because of that 14 teachers were excised, saving $1.3 million. Manuel emphasized that these teachers were not let go because of budgetary reasons, but because of decreased enrollment.

No teachers were let go because of budget cuts and no teachers were excised at the secondary school level. There were a number of retirements, saving the district $1.4 million for next year. Something had to get cut and they picked elementary summer school, saving $226,000.

There will also be "selective field trip reductions; the goal being to continue to provide critical academic and competitive field trips," Manuel said. This will save $50,000.

"As of this date," Manuel said, "We do not know the direction the legislature will take in regard to the governor's proposal (for state aid)."

But he's not going to sit around and wait. As of this writing, Manuel and others from the district were on their way up to Albany, their budget in hand.

"We've done our job," Manuel said. "Now it's time for Albany to do its job."

The next BOE meetings:

March 21          Work Session Meeting/Budget Presentation        Vanderbilt

April 11             Work Session Meeting/Adopt Budget                     Chestnut Hill

May 9                 Budget Hearing Meeting                                            West Hollow


Patrick Cunningham March 08, 2011 at 05:48 PM
There is no savings, just increase, the $ 221,000,000 number is fiction. Compare to the $206,000,000. Cuts to Summer School and Field Trips, wow. If they have 30 less teachers one would expect that at least 3 administration functions would be reduced also. Does each High School and Middle School really need a Head Custodian and a Chief Custodian. Most College Application Processes are now online, Students and Parents are doing the work of the Guidance department. Eliminate 50% and Save $ 1,500,000.
Moe Money March 08, 2011 at 07:13 PM
It's about time the people of Dix Hills wake up and smell the stink that has been going on in this community .Manuel's cut's are a joke. Summer school, field trips,14 teachers. What did he and his admin pal's give up. How about eliminating the hundred's of other BS jobs the District has hidden from us.Did Manuel offer to take a pay cut along with the other high priced thieves? Why should we trust a District that built a new elementary school(Hills School) only to tear it down 10 years later and sell the property to a developer.When in doubt pass the blame.It's all the State's fault for the increase's.Nice try.
Moe Money March 08, 2011 at 07:22 PM
I want to be the $300,000.00 Assistant Superintendent Of Educational BS!!!!!!!!!!!
Patrick Cunningham March 08, 2011 at 09:30 PM
Half Hollow Hills Salary Data. Those making more than $300 K (2) Those making between $299 K-$200 K (8), Those making between $199K-$100K (289). Those making between $99K and $75K (488). Not bad 787 individuals making over $ 75,000 per year. In all Half Hollow Hills at 1,300 people on payroll to teach 10,000 Children. That's a ratio of 12 students to every 1 employee. With 10,025 Students, Half Hollow Hills spend $ 20,500 per student.
Eric Benson March 09, 2011 at 03:26 AM
A few thoughts: $800 per month car allowance? $3000 out of pocket, you can lease a Honda Civic for 24 months @ $49 per month. $300,000 to go away? How about just go away and save our money for the kids, Karnilow. Sunday I had the pleasure of taking my children to Lacrosse practice at HHH East. I noticed, on a Sunday, every single light in the school was on. Is that necessary????????? I am a product of HHH and I am ashamed at what this district has become.
caryl deiches March 09, 2011 at 02:51 PM
As a parent of two special needs elementary age children who fight each and every day to master various learning skills , the plan to cut the 4 week summer school program that helps maintain learning tools for our most vulnerable students and retards regression of skills is just insane! Remember folks...it should be about educating our children first!
Jill Kaufman March 09, 2011 at 03:23 PM
PAY FREEZE? Then I guess THE BOARD OF EDUCATION should vote to take back the sick day buy backs the top Administrators are to receive for the next 4 years including the year of the "FREEZE"! I say this not because they are not doing a great... job, but because of the reality of the economy and what was needed to be cut from our budget. I have nothing but respect for our Assistant Superintendents. I think the BOARD OF EDUCATION must remember who they represent. It is my opinion that they have lost sight of this! You should know that this NEW "BENEFIT" was given to them JUST THIS SCHOOL YEAR! Our Board President stated at the Board of Ed meeting last Monday night that they have been planning for the budget crises for some time now. They had foresight, so I wonder then why she, and the other Board members who voted YES, would add benefits to contracts to the 6 highest paid people in our district, while they cut sports, summer school busing, and arts programs for our students. Also, in 3 of the years, they will not only be getting a 3% raise but the buybacks as well. How many of you are getting a 6 or 7 % increase every year? And I question why they would vote on a 4 year contract to give these raises and buybacks to those who have a 1 year contract, especially in this economy and not knowing what the future holds. I did ask at last nights meeting if the Board of Education had any plans to re-vote this contract and your Board of Education president, Anne Marie Sorkin, said "NO"
Jill Kaufman March 09, 2011 at 03:32 PM
Patrick, Bug. Moe, Eric, Caryl Why don't you come to Board of Ed meetings for the budget presentation and ask your questions. Be more involved and together maybe we can make changes here!
Jill Kaufman March 09, 2011 at 03:55 PM
I can tell you how many times while I was a Board Of Ed Trustee. that I brought this up the very same thing! WEST HOLLOW TOO! Very frustrating!
Patrick Cunningham March 09, 2011 at 04:16 PM
I will be there. Do you know how many administrators have been added over the years. Also the Teachers Contract is due at the end of next year. From what I can see at the Website SeethroughNY, it looks like a significant number of teachers are retiring with large ST payouts also.
Jill Kaufman March 09, 2011 at 04:30 PM
Patrick, You can ask those questions at the Board of Ed meeting. You can also get all your questions answered in writing officially from the school district under the Freedom Of Information Law (FOIL) I suggest you do that! Send all FOIL requests to rmarini@hhh.k12.ny.us her pone number is in the calandar too (District Clerk) Get all the information you want so you can be prepared to ask your questions in the meetings head. They will be sure to take all the time that the law allows so send in your requests ASAP .
caryl deiches March 09, 2011 at 05:05 PM
I will be there!
Jill Kaufman March 09, 2011 at 07:04 PM
Bring your friends as well!
Jill Kaufman March 09, 2011 at 08:33 PM
Patrick, You bring up some very valid concerns. Maybe some of these were looked at, I don't know but we can ask. By the way, the Superintendents salary is way more than $275,000. Certain classes are mandated by the state in the curriculum. I think there was a time when we had lead teachers in HHH instead of AP in the elementary schools. I believe there are many things we can cut in addition to salary and benefits such as buy backs. Lets look at the cost of publicity/public relations! Is that more important than the programs and services for students? I think NOT!
Jill Kaufman March 09, 2011 at 08:36 PM
Can you post the link to all these salaries?
Jill Kaufman March 09, 2011 at 09:27 PM
At this point, it wouldn't matter if they broadcast the meeting because you wouldn't know what is going on half the time. The Board of Education has refused to allow the details of what they are voting on to be seen. I asked at many Board of Ed meetings last year that they put up on the screen what they are voting on so everyone can see. Many people have complained that in the agenda they have at the meeting for the community there are no attachments where it says "see Attachment". Most things are public record. There may be a time where they would not be allowed to share info. They have no problem putting up all their presentations that they want you to see. They can also put it on the web site free of charge!!! they will save on paper and ink. I guess since no one else has asked and are too afraid to ask at the Board meeting this will not be done. Nothing will be done unless we all stand together!
BIG BROTHERS WATCHING March 11, 2011 at 01:13 PM
When and where is the next meeting? Count me in.I'll try to get my elderly neighbors to come with me, these poor people are being forced out of our community by these rising tax's.Enough of these people and their statiscal manipulated BS . Go to SEETHROUGHNY.ORG and if that doesn't motivate you to do something then it's time to take down the flag and surrender to these theives.There are alot of BS positions these people can eliminate before they take it out on our kids.Bug you are right with getting a lawyer to combat these people.I'm sure you have alot of people agreeing with you on that.
Karen Forman March 11, 2011 at 03:23 PM
The next meeting is Monday, March 21st at Vanderbilt Elementary School, 350 Deer Park Avenue, Dix Hills, New York 11746 (631) 592-3800 It should start at 8 p.m. If I hear anything different, I'll let you know. Hope to see you all there!!!
BIG BROTHER March 11, 2011 at 04:25 PM
Thank you Karen. Love your web site.Keep up the great work you are doing.
Jill Kaufman March 11, 2011 at 04:39 PM
Ditto on that BIG BROTHER
Jill Kaufman March 11, 2011 at 05:02 PM
I am happy to see people getting involved and I just hope everyone comes and and speaks in a respectful manner so people will actually listen to what you have to say.
Mike March 11, 2011 at 05:10 PM
Manuel has got to be kidding. These highly paid so called professionals sat down and the best they came up with is to save 276k.No summer school ,selective field trips BS....Look at SEETHROUGHNY.ORG one elementary school principal got a 25k raise in two years with this economy.So far social security has given no raise's in two years.This greed has got to stop.Why do we have to hurt our children's education for these people to keep getting rich in the name of education.The only true way to hold these people's feet to the fire is to show up in large numbers with some press people present and ask the hard questions they don't want to hear.Fact #1 Newsdays article on the Fire Dept Bond. Result- Vote postponed. Fact #2 Newsday's article on highest paid Superintendents . Result-Karnilow announced retirement. Just think what we could do if we can get some help to investigate why people are holding jobs that are not essential to the function of the District and probably duplicated under a different title or even more personel hired then needed.We must downsize the amount of salaries being paid out instead of jokingly saving 276k.Fact #3 White District vans are found miles away from the schools in other towns and are parked idly for hours.I assure you they are not on supply runs.You can see for yourself.Hopefully the result will be someone who drives one reads this post and sounds the alarm. We are on to them and must turn up the heat.
Jill Kaufman March 13, 2011 at 04:53 AM
Email the link to the article to all your contacts and if you are on FB recommend the article.
Jill Kaufman March 19, 2011 at 03:09 AM
Thanks Hugh!
Patrick Cunningham March 21, 2011 at 01:38 PM
Don't forget, Budget Meeting Tonight March 21 at Vanderbilt Elementary School at 8 PM. Let your feelings be known!
Jill Kaufman March 21, 2011 at 03:01 PM
Bug, That is part of the problem that people don't come and ask questions and make comments. I don't think enough people are reading this to expect the turn out you would like to see. I think you have to spread the word to your neighbors and friends to start attending board meetings. They are held 2x a month on a Monday night at 8PM. They are listed in the calendar and on the website Here is what you can do: When you arrive there will be two sign up sheets - The "first comments from visitors" is for questions and comments related to the presentation, which tonight will be the budget. Those comments are taken after the presentation is complete. The "second comment from visitors" can be related to the presentation or any other topic. These comments are toward the end of the meeting. You must sign up if you wish to speak I suggest that anyone who wants to speak and be heard do so in a respectful manner.
Jill Kaufman March 21, 2011 at 04:11 PM
But please do say what is on your mind!
Patrick Cunningham March 23, 2011 at 01:45 PM
Based upon what was learned at the meeting, This district refuses to cut costs. The only thing left is to hope for a major consolidation of school districts. The Status quo will continue. For the life of me I can not figure out why in these Hard Econmic times, the school board would extend the current very generous contracts for the district employees.
Patrick Cunningham March 23, 2011 at 03:30 PM
Real Estate Taxes or Income and Sales Taxes, Schools are still funded with our tax money. No one is talking about reducing salaries. We are talking about spending our money effectively. Is it really necessary to pay a teacher who has a master’s degree and 90 credits worth of post graduate and career experience 2x’s the salary of another teacher with the same level of responsibility. Wouldn’t the District be better served with these teachers taking on additional responsibilities of administration and Curriculum development? Why does the district pay additional stipends to these same teachers to be Department heads, Curriculum Liaisons, Elementary Technology Liaisons, and Facilitators. The current available contract shows that High School Teachers can only teach a maximum of 5 periods per day. With the High School daya at nine 40 minute periods that is only 3 hours and 20 minutes of Class Room Instruction for about 165 days. Don’t forget the school year includes about 18 days of regents, midterms, and finals where no instruction is giving.
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