Public silent at first Riverhead school budget presentation

03/09/2011 5:30 PM |

VERA CHINESE PHOTO | School board vice president Greg Meyer and superintendent Nancy Carney at Tuesday's school board meeting.

Riverhead school officials presented a $110.3 million budget for the 2011-12 school year at Tuesday night’s monthly school board meeting.

But perhaps surprisingly, given such uncertain times, no one from the public spoke out on the budget plan — or 40 positions being eliminated — during the public comment portion of the meeting.

The spending plan carries a 1.96 percent spending increase over last year’s $108 million budget, though the tax levy — the amount of cash the district collects from taxpayers — is expected to jump 5.97 percent from $82.7 million this year to $87.7 million in 2011-12.

How much that means to the average homeowner is not certain until the tax equalization rates are set.

During the presentation, Ms. Carney noted that the bulk of the spending increase comes from contributions to the state Teachers Retirement System and the Employees Retirement System pension funds. The amount the district must contribute has increased by 39 percent, or $2.1 million.

“Why such a wild fluctuation from year to year?” asked school board member Tim Griffing.

Joseph Singleton, the district’s interim assistant superintendent for business and finance, explained that the amount the school district must contribute to the fund is determined by a five-year average. This year, due to declining stock market revenues over the past three years, districts across the state have had to kick in extra funds to cover pension costs — as pension payouts are guaranteed.

Ms. Carney said she was hopeful the tax levy would be reduced if Governor Andrew Cuomo restores some of the $2.9 million in state school aid cuts he has proposed. The governor’s proposal is part of a plan to eliminate a $10 billion state deficit.

Ms. Carney said the board will hold weekly budget presentations at different district schools through April 12, when it will adopt a final budget proposal to put before voters. The schedule is available on the district’s website.

This first presentation was held at Riverhead Middle School.

Parts of the superintendent’s preliminary $111.8 million budget were outlined at a board meeting last month. Under that plan, district spending would have increased by 3.28 percent, or more than $3 million. Ms. Carney later told the News-Review that she pared the spending increase to 1.96 percent, and informed the newspaper that the plan called for eliminating 40 positions, including 15 teacher positions.

“[We’ve made] $4 million in reductions through a lot of difficult decisions,” Ms. Carney said during Tuesday’s meeting.

Voter registration will be held May 9 between noon and 6 p.m. and May 10 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Those who wish to run for school board can contact district clerk Barbara O’Kula at 369-4724.

A budget hearing is scheduled for May 10 in the Riverhead High School auditorium.

Taxpayers will vote on the budget May 17.

In other news, the school board accepted the resignation of high school principal David Zimbler effective April 10. Associate principal David Wicks will serve as acting principal until a permanent replacement is found.

“We wish him the best of luck,” said board president Ann Cotten-Degrasse.

The board also voted in favor of a resolution to extend Ms. Carney’s contract until June 2014.

vchinese@timesreview.com

Comments

comments

283 Comment

  • “… noted that the bulk of the spending increase comes from contributions to the state Teachers’ Retirement System and the Employees’ Retirement System pension funds.”

    Hmmmm ….so it’s really NOT all about our kids? Gee, who would have thought that!

    So, we have to tighten our belts, but teachers and other government employees don’t? Gosh, that sounds equitable to me!

  • “… noted that the bulk of the spending increase comes from contributions to the state Teachers’ Retirement System and the Employees’ Retirement System pension funds.”

    Hmmmm ….so it’s really NOT all about our kids? Gee, who would have thought that!

    So, we have to tighten our belts, but teachers and other government employees don’t? Gosh, that sounds equitable to me!

  • UNFORTUNATELY AS FAR AS PUBLIC THERE WASN’T MUCH IN ATTENDANCE..THE MAJORITY OF THE ATTENDEES WERE ADMINISTRATION TO SUPPORT DAVID WICKS .
    AS SOMEONE THAT ATTENDS ALL THE MEETINGS ,I WISH MORE OF THE PUBLIC WOULD COME AND ASK QUESTIONS.

  • We’ll make our voices heard when we force a contingency budget.

  • The BOE actually voted to amend the agenda from the February 12 meeting. The original minutes indicated the vote was 6-0, and the amended minutes indicate the vote was 5-1 with one board member being absent.

  • AD, thank you for your comment. You are correct and the story has been changed.

  • Greetings Gary…. This style of taxation must stop…”A Politician cuts a DEAL with the TEACHERS UNION” and we the taxpayers get the bill….The first thing we must due is get the entire education budget in the general election…and get these socialists off our back !!!!

  • More proof that increased spending and taxation does not go to helping students. The young enthusiastic teachers are the first to go. The public has no voice in the teacher pension contribution formula. If we did maybe more would attend.

  • speaking for myself… I don’t have any questions. I only have an answer and that is NO on May 17th!

  • No, they don’t… as a matter of fact, 15 teachers got STEP increases!!

  • THERE ARE NO MORE CONTINGENCY BUDGETS.

  • THAT IS TRUE MOM HOWEVER THE DISTRICT IS MANDATED BY THE STATE TO MAKE UP WHAT WAS LOST ON WALL STREET..

  • WHO VOTED NO LAST NIGHT?THE FIRST VOTE GRIFFING WAS OUT AND I BELIEVE DEVITO VOTED NO.LAST NIGHT DEVITO WAS OUT….

  • You’re wrong Laurie. There is still a contingency budget, it’s just that the maximum increase allowed will be 0%.

    That’s perfect as far as I’m concerned. They’ll get the same amount as last year, and not a penny more.

  • Stop it Laurie. It’s only mandated by the state because the unions demanded the system be set up that way.

    If we vote down the budget twice, then the budget will be the same as last year. Any programs shut down will be becuase the money is going to be used to pad teachers pensions.

  • EXACTLY ..WE ARE COMING IN BELOW THE 4% …YOU ARE CORRECT…I DID NOT EXPLAIN MYSELF ..
    THANKS

  • I realize the meetings are publicized on the school website, but it would be helpful it the Times/Review would post a notification on it’s own website and Facebook page the day or two BEFORE. We all have busy lives, and sometimes multiple jobs, I found out about the mtg when I saw on Facebook that it had already taken place.

  • CORRECT THEY STILL GET THEIR STEPS…CHECK THE AGENDA..EVERY MEETING TEACHERS ARE ON THERE BEING APPROVED

  • There is not a welcoming tone during these meetings. Nobody wants to step forward an speak when treated in a dismissive and disdainful fashion. But—folks speak in other ways—with their votes!

  • This Administration speaks only with Respect.The last Administration was Demanding and Rude
    That is not seen here and I can assure the community they will never see that with Carney.

  • This Administration speaks only with Respect.The last Administration was Demanding and Rude
    That is not seen here and I can assure the community they will never see that with Carney.

  • Whether the tone is welcoming or not, people need to attend and say what needs to be said. That is why i attend all the bond meetings. What I saw is not welcome and I don’t care, i will continue to beat the drum as one of the few “civilians” in attendance.

  • Very strange I guess you had no questions..I recorded the entire thing and no questions were asked.So If your beating the drum Please ask some questions…..It would be welcomed..after all I have been beating that drum for over 11 years and I can name the people who helped beat that drum ..3 of us..so come on #4 join the crowd.

  • Fabulous Photo! Congratulations Brette

  • Fabulous Photo! Congratulations Brette

  • An incredible photo. And did you also know that geese do not normally migrate at night! Another rare capture! An amazing credit for a freshman student in high schoool!