The Garden City Board of Education presented the public hearing session for the district's adopted budget for the 2012-13 school year at Tuesday evening's board meeting.
The $104,976,751 budget, which the board adopted last month and residents will vote on Tuesday, has a budget-to-budget increase of 3.06 percent with a projected tax levy increase of 3.54 percent. The maximum allowable tax levy increase the district is entitled to under Gov. Cuomo's new tax cap law was 4.2 percent, so the budget is under the cap.
Since the start of the budget work sessions, the overall goal has been to “ align a budget with the district’s mission and goals,” said Superintendent Robert Feirsen. Currently, the expenditure break down for this adopted budget is 14.89 percent in capital, 10.91 percent in administrative and 74.20 percent in program.
The final adopted budget still continues to aim to minimally cut programs, reduce staff according to enrollment decline, and does not close any of the buildings in Garden City’s district.
The proposed staff reductions include one seventh grade core subject teacher, one bus driver and 1.2 full-time administrative business office positions. These cuts, however, are supplemented by two reserve positions, one general education and one special education teacher in case of enrollment increase, according to Feirsen’s presentation.
Other cuts discussed are the minimal ones to the athletics program with four team rosters reduced, elimination of the high school strength and conditioning program, the reduction of 21 assistant coaches, four head strength and conditioning coaches and six middle school intramural coaches ( a total of 31 positions eliminated). Ofsetting this reduction, Feirsen’s budget allows for an increase of 10 intramural supervisors for the middle and high schools.
Budget drivers also make an impact on the 2012-13 budget plans. Among other costs, two of the most significant budget drivers for the 2012-13 budget are the state-mandated pension cost increases ( $886,000) and the “contractual salary increases."
"With the negotiation of the Garden City Teachers Association this has been reduced by $680,000,” said Feirsen.
Initiatives for the 2012-13 budget were also presented. These initiatives include increasing district-wide area network (WAN), expanding the use of tablets (iPads, etc), developing and implementing a career education program for high school juniors, maintaining both special education services and athletics programs, $600,000 to put toward capital improvements and the purchase of two full size buses and two vans, among many others.
Also presented for the first time, was the contingent, or “Austerity” budget figures. According to Fiersen, if the budget does not pass the district “ would have a 0 percent tax levy cap, which means the district could not collect any more revenue through property taxes than it collected this year, approximately $87.3 million.”
If the budget fails, “the board has two choices,” said Fiersen. “They can say, 'Okay, the people have spoken. we accept the return of the results of the election, or they can schedule a second election for June,” he said.
According to the presentation, the “ Austerity” budget would require a reduction of $3.2 million dollars. To achieve the reduction, measures such as eliminating all capital purchases, additional cuts to athletics, clubs, music, drama and more would need to be made. Also, in danger could be academic programs and a class size increase.
The budget vote will take place on May 15 from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. in the high school gym. The next board meeting will take place on May 15 at 8:15 p.m. Additionally, the June 12 board meeting has been moved to June 19.