North Bellmore faces $2.18M budget gap


North Bellmore School District officials are examining how they can make up a $2.18 million gap in their 2014-15 proposed budget. 

North Bellmore administrators and Board of Education trustees revealed their draft spending plan to the community at workshops on March 18 and 25. Assistant Superintendent for Business Mark Schissler explained the budget.

North Bellmore’s budget stands at $52.5 million, which is about $2 million larger than the current year’s budget.Noting that more than $31 million has been budgeted for instruction, Schissler said the spending plant does not cut any money for educational services. “As of now, all of the programs that we are currently running are continued in the budget,” he said. 

Schissler highlighted five sections of the budget that will see six-figure increases: the teachers’ retirement system ($585,000), contractual salary obligations ($560,000), health insurance ($255,000), tuition for special-education students in private schools, ($225,000) and contractual special-education services ($230,000).

As of March 25, Schissler said that district officials also expected revenues to drop by more than $800,000 in 2014-15, which, in part, accounts for the $2.18 million deficit. Schissler said he hoped the district would receive more aid in Governor Cuomo’s budget. Still, he said, state aid was expected to decline. 

Schissler also said that the tax levy –– the total amount the district must raise in property taxes to meet expenses –– is projected to increase by 1.5 percent. 

Schissler went through several options that the district has to meet its current budget gap, including increasing the tax levy, drawing funds from a $3.9 million reserve and appropriating less savings for next year. He added that the district might also reduce the number of classes in any grade by eliminating staff positions. 

“We’re going to have a major discussion on that as we move forward,” he said.

Superintendent Marie Testa noted that North Bellmore is not in an emergency situation that would lead to scores of faculty or staff layoffs. She also said that teachers’ contract prohibits class sizes from exceeding 28 students.

Testa said the administration would continue to work with the Board of Education to finalize the draft budget for approval by the community in May. “The board,” she said, “has given the directive in making sure, first and foremost, that we meet the needs of the children programmatically while also taking into consideration the criteria of our mission and our core values.”

The North Bellmore district takes in students from North Bellmore and part of North Merrick. The board was expected to adopt the draft budget on April 10.