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Hewlett-Woodmere to Use Reserves for 2012-13 Budget

Staff changes also help district slim down.

The will meet its proposed $106,025,017 budget with the elimination of 15 positions and the use of its reserve funds.

The 2012-13 proposed budget is $2.78 million, or 2.7 percent, higher than last year’s, mostly due to unfunded mandates from the state and county. The district must put in about $2 million in increased contributions to employee retirement funds and health insurance.

“With increased unfunded mandates, limitations with state aid to Hewlett-Woodmere Public Schools and a tax levy cap,” said Superintendent Dr. Joyce Bisso, “we recognize that we still have a solemn obligation to provide our 3,000 students and adults with learning at deeper levels and providing them with life skills critical to propel them into their futures.”

While other districts have resorted to more drastic budget balancing cuts such as closing schools, eliminating arts and athletics and laying off teachers, Hewlett-Woodmere will not this year with the use of reserve funds and other measures.

“We have a very different challenge now,” said Dr. Peter J. Weber, assistant superintendent of business. “We really don’t think anymore in one-year terms. We’re looking at the implications continuously up to four years.”

The district’s , which eight employees including principals have accepted, will provide savings for years, district officials said. The positions of district director of curriculum and assessment and the high school dean will be eliminated at the end of the school year as part of staff changes that will save the district $573,398.

Dina Anzalone, the current curriculum director, will replace the outgoing principal at , while Tom Naglieri, the high school dean, will be the new assistant principal at . Other staffing changes include the cutting of 10 teacher aides.

Although the property tax levy cap on municipalities is 2 percent, Weber said the proposed levy would be 1.91 percent, the “lowest in a long time.”

“The reality is that over time there is going to be an increase again between what it costs to operate the district and what we’ll be able to pass on in terms of taxes,” he said. “The buffer we have — which I call our greatest blessing — is that we have several years to figure it out.”

Response to the budget presentation on Thursday was muted compared to last year — when the to its Gifted Program — with only a handful of residents asking questions.

“The board has done an admirable job of presenting a budget that preserves the core and mission of the district,” said Ric Stark, president of the Hewlett-Woodmere Faculty Association.

The board of education is expected to adopt the proposed budget at its next regular meeting on April 17. The annual budget hearing will be held on May 2, and the budget vote will take place on May 15.

 “You look at this and say, ‘1.91, that’s not too bad,’ and you look at the budget and you see things you don’t like,” Weber said, “but compared to what you’ve seen in other places, it’s not too bad.”

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