15 Sep 2014
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School Board Begins Budget Talks

Deputy superintendent Kevin Wurtz provided first official budget projections.

School Board Begins Budget Talks

The Glen Cove Board of Education was presented with a hypothetical 2013-2014 budget Monday night as deputy superintendent Kevin Wurtz outlined major increases in lieu of state aid.

A rollover budget that includes all current district programs and employees and factors in no future increases in revenue would represent a $3 million increase, which would translate to a 4.87 percent tax levy increase.

Wurtz explained that revenue increases will undoubtedly offset those numbers, and board president Joel Sunshine stressed that this first review of the projected budget should not be understood to represent the district's plan.

Dismissing projected revenue and maximizing projected cost increases is the best approach to constructing a responsible budget, Wurtz said, and noted that the district's budget has passed each year since it last failed seven years ago, and has done that with the lowest tax levy increase in Nassau County.

The Teachers Retirement System accounts for the largest single cost increase, with a projected $1.6 million increase from the current year.

Real property tax refunds account for $450,000, which was reduced to zero for this year's budget with the district's use of reserve funds.

Superintendent Joseph Laria said projections being considered extend as much as 18 months into the future and are subject to change. Wurtz said the figures will be recalculated once the district learns what state aid it will receive.

Busing consolidation was mentioned as one possible area of significant savings. Some schoolbuses travel with between 30 and 40 percent of seats empty, Wurtz said. Cutting one bus would save the district $70,000 in transportation costs and $10,000 in fuel costs annually.

"Think if that were five buses," Wurtz said.

The deputy superintendent was applauded by all in attendance at the end of his presentation.

Laria prefaced the start of the process with a word of caution.

"A school district is dealing with both emotionally charged issues -- money and children. Emotions can reach a fevered pitch," he said.

He reminded those in attendance that the district's financial challenges reflect the woes of the entire nation. 

"That scarcity is a hardship that we share with our neighbors and collegues, not a wound we inflict," said Laria.

He expressed faith in the community's ability to weather the coming discussions, noting disruptive antics which have ended public meetings and necessitated forced removals of attendees in other districts he has served during his career.

"I have walked away from past Glen Cove discussions with enormous respect for this community's civility and dignity," Laria said.

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