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Tuesday, May 31, 2016
Bellmore-Merrick Central District must cut $2.2M from 2013-14 budget
Scott Brinton/Herald
Central High School District Board of Education Trustee George Haile said he worries that continued budget cuts because of a state-mandated property-tax levy cap will eventually mean reductions to “the things we’re so proud of” in Bellmore-Merrick, meaning programs.

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.”

Staff cuts

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.


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