The North Merrick School District was able to sidestep painful cuts to educational and counseling programs next year because of an 11th-hour restoration of state aid dollars at the end of last month.
“All the current programs we have in the district will continue exactly as is … our class sizes, our programs in art and music,” said North Merrick Superintendent David Feller. “We’re very glad about that.”
The New York State budget that Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled in January cut $102,000 in school aid and $435,000 cut in “high-tax aid,” funding that the state supplies to school districts — many of them on Long Island — with higher property taxes. The cuts made up a majority of the $761,000 budget gap for the 2013-14 school year that the North Merrick School District faced last month. But the budget that the state Legislature passed on March 29, days before an April 1 deadline, restored $475,000 of the district’s funding cut.
The North Merrick Board of Education subsequently adopted a budget on April 9 that will, if approved by the community in a May 21 vote, maintain level funding for many of the district’s programs and services, though it does contain cuts to some administrative functions to close the district’s remaining $286,000 budget gap.
These include reducing the balance of funds left over from the previous fiscal year and reserves held to cover unexpected transportation and health benefits costs. The district will also save $79,000 next school year because of a principal taking leave and being replaced by a lower-salaried interim principal and $14,000 by converting a vacant custodial position into a lower-paid cleaner position.