In Lynbrook, initial 2014-15 budget discussions have a different tone than many other Long Island school districts. That’s because administrators and Board of Education members aren’t discussing cutting teaching positions and reducing programs to stay within the state’s tax cap law; they’re adding and expanding.
At the district’s first budget presentation on Feb. 5, administrators outlined a majority of the proposed $77.26 million spending plan, including salaries, health benefits and curriculum costs. There is a budget-to-budget increase of 1.36 percent under the proposed plan.
As schools across the state enter into Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s third year of property tax cap legislation, Lynbrook sees its maximum allowable tax levy — the amount that districts can raise revenue through property taxes — at 1.46 percent. According to Dr. Paul Lynch, assistant superintendent for finance, operations and information systems, a 1.46 percent increase equates to about $900,000 in additional property tax revenue.
Lynbrook administrators are proposing a tax cap-compliant budget for the third consecutive year. “The tax cap has almost made [the budget process] a game of smoke and mirrors,” said Trustee Rob Paskoff to district administration, “and you guys have done a good job with the smoke and mirrors. I hope you can keep it up for a few more years.”
Maureen Berman, administrator for personnel and student support services, summarized the staffing projections for next school year. Overall, the district would add 1.7 teaching positions. If a teacher were to instruct only one course a day it would equate to a .2, which is why the number is not whole.
The district would spend an additional $665,000 in salaries under the proposed budget to fund the added positions and contractual obligations for employees. Salary costs are projected to total $41.4 million, or 54 percent of the overall budget.