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Glen Cove City School District talks 2020 budget and bond vote

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The Glen Cove City School District Board of Education held their preliminary budget meeting for the 2020-2021 school year on Jan. 22. While the district has yet to finalize all the numbers as they wait for more information on how much state aid they will receive for the next school year, Victoria Galante, the assistant superintendent of business, estimated that the total revenue for the district would be around $94 million, a nearly $3 million increase from last year. But despite the increase in revenue, the preliminary budget still comes up about $1 million short of the estimated expenses for the upcoming school year. 

“The $95 million expenditure is like a wish list of everything we want to get done in the district,” Galante explained. “We’ve had wider gaps in other years, and depending on the needs of the district, we will have to move things around to meet [the allowed budget].”

The bulk of the district’s revenue comes from the tax levy, which is estimated to increase from $69.5 million to about $71 million. While the district has budgeted to receive about $15 million in state aid, officials hope to boost that amount as they continue to advocate for an increase in Foundation Aid funding to the district. Superintendent Dr. Maria Rianna explained that the Glen Cove City School District — along with the districts in Westbury, Riverhead, Port Chester and Ossining — have historically received only 50 percent or less of the maximum potential state Foundation Aid they were entitled to. While Rianna has worked together with local state representatives to bring an additional $1.3 million last year, she hopes the district can finally get the full funds it’s entitled to this year.   

“The preliminary numbers we’ve seen from the state are still far off from even 80 percent,” Rianna said. 

Rianna and the other superintendents form the affected school districts, collectively known as the “Harmed Suburban Five,” will continue to advocate for an increase in Foundation Aid through a lobbying event on March 26, in Albany. District officials invited local residents to join the event or support the “Harmed Suburban Five” on social media. 

After tax levy and state aid funds, Payments in Lieu of Taxes represent the third largest form of revenue the district receives, which totals about $4 million and includes payments from the city’s Avalon, Men on the Move, Movie Theatre, The Regency, 50 Glen Street, Fair Housing, Long Island Power Authority, Village Square and Garvies Point projects. Despite the addition of the Village Square PILOT bringing in about $114,664 in new revenue, the total PILOT funds the district estimates to receive next school year will only be about $59,000 more as the Avalon project has finished paying one of its two PILOTs. 

Along with discussing the draft budget at the Jan. 22 meeting, the Board of Education also shared new details regarding their efforts to promote the upcoming $46 million bond vote in March. Board Vice President Monica Alexandris-Miller, who serves as the bond committee liaison, said the district has finished creating a website, gcbond.org, which would help residents understand everything about the bond in a detailed and concise manner in both English and Spanish. Along with a video breakdown of the bond work — which architect Michael Mark, of Mark Design Studios, gave in detail during previous meetings — the district has also included a video explaining the bidding process they must follow when securing contracts for the sought-after renovations. Miller hoped the videos would help combat misinformation about the bond and help residents understand the district’s reasoning as they try to address years of aging infrastructure and disrepair at all six school buildings. 

“With the site up and running, we’re also working on ways to try to go out in the community to talk about the bond since not everyone checks online,” Alexandris-Miller said. 

Justin Lander, the district’s director of Instructional Technology, added that the website would be updated periodically to include any new information on the bond process and that residents would be notified of any updates through the school’s social media accounts. 

The Board of Education will reconvene on Feb. 12 to hold a budget workshop where Galante hopes to present a fully detailed budget, which would include updates on state aid and the exact tax levy percentage that would be proposed for the 2020-2021 school year.