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