February 11, 2013 | 202 views
Bellmore-Merrick Central District must cut $2.2M from 2013-14 budget
The Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District must slash $2.2 million in spending from its 2013-14 budget to meet a state property-tax levy cap imposed by Governor Cuomo in June 2011. That could mean a wide range of cutbacks, from the elimination of summer school for all students except seniors to reconfiguring the anti-drug Athletes Helping Athletes program to reducing the number of junior-varsity games that are played in a season.
The proposed spending plan, which now stands at $137.7 million, must be reduced to a little over $135.5 million to meet the tax cap. “Each year it gets more difficult to offset the tax levy…,” said Cynthia Strait-Regal, the Central District’s deputy superintendent for business. “It looks like cuts are going to have to continue going forward.”
At a Board of Education meeting on Feb. 6, Strait-Regal presented a long list of possible program cuts from which the Board of Education could choose to reduce the budget, though none of the cuts would eliminate a program. To date, the list has not been finalized. In addition to program cuts, Central District officials are looking at reducing staff positions, including:
• 11.5 teachers
• One administrator
• One assistant coach
• One full-time and one part-time secretary
• Two Special Education Department assistants
• 11 interns.
And district officials are weighing the possibility of eliminating all Tempo Group social workers. Tempo, with offices in Bellmore-Merrick, the Five Towns and Syosset, provides counseling to teenagers on a host of issues, primarily drug addiction.
As a last resort, officials said, they would cut the nine-period day at the middle schools, returning to an eight-period day, which, they said, would mean the elimination of electives for eighth-graders.
Exceeding the cap
“You can’t keep cutting the budget” without eventually eliminating student programs, Strait-Regal said. That led to a discussion among school board trustees members about the possibility of offering a budget that exceeded the cap for a public vote in future years, though all said that they would stick to the cap for 2013-14.