Garden City residents approved the proposed 2012-2013 budget for the school district Tuesday. They also elected Trustee Tom Pinou to the At-Large seat on the school board, and Robert Martin to Pinou's current seat. (Both ran unopposed and garned 1,424 votes and 1,571 votes, respectively.)
There were 1,820 votes in favor (63.6 percent) and 1,044 against the $104,215,528 proposed budget, which is $3,098,470 (3.06 percent) higher than the 2011-2012 budget. The budget raises the tax levy - the portion of revenue that taxpayers are responsible for - by 3.54 percent, which is actually under the tax cap created by New York State law and therefore, only required a majority of voters for it to pass.
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To figure out how the budget will impact your tax bill, click here to use the Garden City school district's "Property Tax Calculator."
Among the factors driving the budget up this year were unfunded mandates, rising pension and healthcare costs for employees, debt service for the 2009 School Investment Bond, Special Education and contractual salary increases, albeit there was a reduction of $680K in the latter due to a new contract with the teachers union.
To offset some of these increases, the district also reached contract settlements with its paraprofessionals and CSEA, and is "judiciously" reducing staff based on declining enrollment. 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 Garden City Superintendent Robert Feirsen.
The budget also makes some minimal reductions and cuts to athletics. Four team rosters will be reduced, the high school strength and conditioning program will be eliminated, and 31 coaching positions will be cut - 21 assistant coaches, four head strength and conditioning coaches and six middle school intramural coaches. To offset these reductions, the budget allows for an increase of 10 intramural supervisors for the middle and high schools.
The district also tapped into some of its reserves, and realized savings through its participation in numerous consortia and its Energy Performance Contract. For more on the budget, click here.
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