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Northport BOE Presents Preliminary Budget

Meeting two percent cap with increasing mandated expenses presents challenges, says McDermott.

The Northport-East Northport Board of Education began budget talks with a somber illustration of unprecedented challenges presented by increasing state mandates.

According to Superintendent Marylou McDermott's preliminary 2013-2014 budget presentation on Monday, the district would have to cut spending by $4.1 million in order to stay within Governor Cuomo's two percent tax cap. By comparison, a 5.10 percent increase would be required for a budget with zero cuts.

McDermott presented a $160.4 million preliminary budget with a 5.10 percent tax levy increase at the meeting, emphasizing that it is in its very preliminary stages because final figures from the town and state will not be available until the spring. The budget reflects a 4.21 percent total increase from last year's $153.9 million budget.

McDermott explained that the school district budget has been under the two percent tax levy cap for the past four years-- last year coming in at a 1.39 percent increase-- but now faces additional expenses as a result of increasing state mandates.

Employee salaries and benefits now comprise between 75 and 80 percent of the overall budget, said McDermott. State-mandated district contributions to Health insurance, ERS (Employee Retirement System), and TRS (Teacher Retirement System), have all jumped this year, with TRS costs alone increasing by over 41 percent.

McDermott emphasized that the district is not currently aware of what the allowable tax levy is. She added that the LIPA tax certiori and meeting the two percent tax cap with increasing mandated expenses would present additional challenges in the future.

The next budget meeting will be on Jan. 28 wherein the BOE members will give direction on the preliminary budget. The full budget presentation and schedule of meetings can be found on the district's website.

Jeanmarie Sidorowicz January 23, 2013 at 05:16 AM
First of all, the point was that the board was justifing decisions that they made based on "fairness" not neccesity. They need to make hard decisions. based on need. Secondly, The Superintendent has had 2 pay increases. The Superintendent was originally paid, starting salary, $220,000.00 dollars in salary AND 25 vacation days plus 19 paid leave days and 30 sick days. She doesn't live in Northport or for that matter, Suffolk County! Last year she was making $233,000.00 and this year, she is up to $240,500.00. The superintendent certainly earns her salary, but don't try to tell me how rough she has it, not with her salary and benefits.
Dad of Three January 23, 2013 at 06:27 AM
The Northport Superintendent's salary seems rather on the low side for comparable districts in northern Nassau and Western Suffolk. Now, if someone wants to argue that if Suffolk were to consolidate districts by town, so that we had 10 rather than 120 (+/-), and that in doing so would enable each of the ten districts to pay much more to ten individuals in order to get the ten best out of that 120, then I wouldn't disagree with that. The net savings would still be phenomenal. But, it is an inefficient system with 120 districts bidding up the price so that they can get one of the better superintendents in the system. As to where she lives, who gives a rat's patootie about where she lives????? That has nothing, whatsoever to do with her performance, or her compensation.
Concerned Citizen January 23, 2013 at 11:34 AM
@ Dad of Three - The savings in of going from 125 Superintendents to NONE is not quite the savings as you would imagine. Based on current school budgets of all 126 districts on Long Island, if you were to eliminate ALL of them at their current salaries and benefits, you would lower the colective school budgets by .0025, or .25%. Hardly a dent in your tax bill. Now, if you lowered and capped your TRS and ERS contribution, you would make a signifcant impact on lowering taxes. If you consolidated bus contracts to a single countywide or state contract... Well, now your talking real money with NO impact on instruction or sound school administration - which should lead to intructional quality.
Nick Folger January 23, 2013 at 01:00 PM
@Concerned Citizen..could you share the source of the statistical information above? Until then, it is just an unverified blog
Dad of Three January 23, 2013 at 05:33 PM
For Concerned Citizens, yes, I realize that the collective salaries of superintendents is a relatively small part of the puzzle, but it is a part. Moreover, if consolidation (in the manner which I suggested) did take place, then it would not only be superintendent salaries, but salaries (and benefits) of a whole boat-load of assistant superintendents, executive directors, directors, and maybe some other kinds of central administration staff. Even a flock of $40,000 to $60,000 salaries for clerical staff, centralized into more efficient groupings could add up to a lot of savings. But you are absolutely right about the ERS and TRS impacts upon school districts as imposed by Albany; that's where some really big bucks lie. And you are also right about the potential savings from transportation, which is I believe a few percentage points of most school budgets. But, even there I would suggest that consolidated districts could lead to better contracts, with much better bargaining position vs. what is now an oligopoly (with or without potential collusion) that hold hostage most school districts. And, though you did not suggest it, I also see substantial potential savings in cost --plus an enlightened and material improvement in quality of teaching -- if cost saving reductions in staff could be done on the basis of a list determined by best-in-job, rather than the current State-imposed last-in-job. And, yes, I feel there are more savings that are Albany-related.

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