Bellmore-Merrick CHSD Budget Recap: $133 Million Means Job, Program Cuts

Need to catch up before you vote? See this recap.

The Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District Board of Education proposed a $133 million budget for the 2012-13 school year.

Key points

  • The district is anticipating eliminating six administrative positions, eight teaching positions, three permanent subs, late buses for the high schools and will be shrinking extracurricular activities.
  • It is estimated that the cost per student for the district is $20,158 per head. 
  • The CHSD will be getting approximately $16.76 million in state aid – a 4.8 percent decrease from the 2011-12 school year.
  • The school district is proposing a 1.3 percent increase to the budget for the 2012-13 school year, which should stand at about $133 million.
  • About $2 million in cuts had to be made to keep the budget below the tax levy cap.


Board seats

Board seats in all four districts that make up the CHSD are up for grabs.

Merrick has five people running for three seats. Incumbent Susan Schwartz belongs to the CHSD board and is running for her seat again. Dr. Nancy Kaplan, also an incumbent, will be seeking re-election. Dr. Pamela Banks, Eric Streznec and Sigal Negrin will be running against the incumbents. It is 'at large' voting.

In North Bellmore, the incumbents are Grace Cramsie and Joe Perrone. Nina Lanci, former president of the CHSD board, Marc Berkowitz, Peter Mayo and Greg Bashaw will challenge them for their seats.

Neil Brown and Steve Enella are running unopposed for seats in the North Merrick School District. Neither Brown nor Enella sit on the CHSD board.

Where to vote

Please report to your elementary schools to vote. Hours and polling places should be available on all of the district websites. 

For more information, see the school website.

Sad Parent May 10, 2012 at 02:22 PM
Very sad...seems like the word "pension" has become a fighting word..Most people will be working till ripe old ages..Employment perks should be given provided the funds are there to afford them...Isn't it obvious, the funds..are just NOT there...Please don't allow them to take programs, and our future from our children...Now that is beyond sad....Don't sell out our kids....
linda smith May 10, 2012 at 02:39 PM
I agree, our children should not have programs stolen from them just to ensure that the teachers obtain their slush funds. Education is about children not lining the pockets of teachers. If the teachers want a high paying position where they have summers off, perhaps they can work as temps somewhere so that they can create their own schedules and pay for their own benefits. That would be wonderful!
swv May 10, 2012 at 02:48 PM
The real problem is that NYS is dictating to the schools all these new testing and reporting requirements that are costing the school districts MANY thousands of dollars and lots of resources - thus taking away the money from the students and programs. The schools are being offered no choice whatsoever in all of this. They are as unhappy as the taxpayers.
PitBull May 10, 2012 at 02:50 PM
We need real change ELECT Strezenic & Banks Merrick School Board
linda smith May 10, 2012 at 02:51 PM
Yes, I agree, however, the BOE needs to find the money by implementing wage freezes for the school employees (including the teachers) and by perhaps turning the existing pension plans into 401-Ks where the employees fund it themselves -- just like the private sector! Problem solved. Voila!
Merrick7 May 10, 2012 at 04:48 PM
Just a commentary, while it is true NYS governs the pension laws they set a standard amount the teachers must contribute. By law, individual unions can renegotiate to contribute more to their pensions and many districts in the state do have such agreements. Also health insurance contributions can be renegotiated for current teachers and for retirees. What is interesting is that in BMCHSD a budget has not failed even once in over 20 years. That signals to unions and administration they can keep their budgets high and school boards have to fight little. The fast that the Strait-Regal claims that a limit of 3.8 percent increases for the next ten years will destroy the district when other districts who spend more or have more programs spend less are getting by on 2 percent increases or less, should be a sign that our unions need to come to the table and renegotiate. A wage freeze that does not include a step increase freeze is not enough. How many secretaries are there for the admin? How many duplicative positions are there between directors and asst superintendents? Is there a list of all positions and what their day-to-day jobs entails? I think many would have similar or exact descriptions. I am not talking about teachers, but just administration. Principals like Blum, Harrington and Seinfeld seem to do most of the real admin work anyways cut overpaid salary types and give the work to them. save costs and keep it personalized for parents.
linda smith May 10, 2012 at 05:25 PM
I agree with you. It's ridiculous that we are so spend happy. Hopefully, we can get things done this year.
Merrick7 May 10, 2012 at 05:59 PM
Thank you! It is just baffling to me that no one seems to notice that while vacancies are beginning to decrease in other communities in bellmore and merrick we continue to see more and more. Merrick Rd and Merrick Ave,Bellmore Ave are all shutting down at alarming rates! Where are the chamber of commerce presidents? Go to the school board meetings tell them what is happening. This is not aesthetics, or attracting customers, it is annual 5 percent increases year in and year out.
PitBull May 10, 2012 at 06:11 PM
See how much teacher backed school board members are getting from the unions to run there campains and do phone banking for them
PitBull May 10, 2012 at 06:13 PM
We need Strezenic - Banks - Perrone Elect them to the school Board
Sara May 10, 2012 at 09:28 PM
It is disappointing that both Mepham and Calhoun were unranked in the US News and World Report high school ranking list.
TKK May 11, 2012 at 01:03 AM
What is disappointing is the hatred, jealousy, misinformation and outright ignorance of the opinions expressed on this board. Thank goodness for the community's sake that the few people who post here are outnumbered by the many informed and rational citizens of Bellmore-Merrick. The budget will pass, hopefully this year by over 60%, so that a possibly piercing of the cap may be a future possibility.
TKK May 11, 2012 at 01:11 AM
@Linda 1. Repeating the same misinformation - that pensions are negotiated by the district - does not make it true. Yes, you are correct that pensions are taxpayer-funded. "Hence, please explain why the union members require the taxpayers to fund their pensions along with taxpayers having to fund their own personal pensions?" - This is not required by union members, it is part of state law. Teachers and other public employees have pensions. Other taxpayers fund retirement accounts such as 401ks or IRAs, but not pensions. Public employees contribute to their pensions (albeit not a great amount). 401k contributions are often matched up to a percentage by employers. Teachers do not have this option - instead, the "match" comes at the end of their carer in the form of a pension. You can believe that it is too generous, but to claim that "union members require the taxpayers to fund their pensions" is hateful and inaccurate. Your comments reek of jealousy.
TKK May 11, 2012 at 01:19 AM
@Linda "please explain why the union members need the taxpayers to fund their health care and wage increases." Since teachers and all public union members are paid with public funds (i.e., by the taxpayers), it would logically follow that all raises and benefits would also be paid by the taxpayers. In essence, your comments show that you believe public union workers should never receive any raises. If you think for a second, you would realize that this would not be a wise idea. There would be zero incentive for anyone to go into a profession with no chance for raises. No one would ever go into public service. My guess is that you would be ok with this because you want to pay less taxes. Thankfully, for society's sake, most people disagree. I would love to engage in an intelligent and logical debate. I hope that your responses are not simply filled with vitriol.
TKK May 11, 2012 at 01:23 AM
"I agree, our children should not have programs stolen from them just to ensure that the teachers obtain their slush funds." Wow, I can't help but laugh at this comment.
linda smith May 11, 2012 at 01:24 AM
This is unacceptable. The facts have been stated regarding the teachers and other union members regarding their taxpayer funded pensions. If these employees have no other "option" but to accept these free gifts from the taxpayer, then, they should try to change the laws to exempt the taxpayers from the liability of having to pay their pensions. Very simple. However, when you resort to name calling and potentially libelous statements just because someone disagrees with you, then, you truly demonstrate that your reasoning skills are severely limited. As planned, the incumbants will be cast out and, hopefully, one day, unions will have gone away.
linda smith May 11, 2012 at 01:27 AM
Yes, hopefully, the teachers wages and step increases will be frozen for the next several years and, hopefully, the children will benefit from this extra money available to them. How sad for some that they cannot write responses without having to resort to name calling and inappropriate behavior.
linda smith May 11, 2012 at 01:28 AM
I agree.
TKK May 11, 2012 at 01:50 AM
Linda, Can you please show me where I engaged in "name calling?" Where are my "potentially libelous statements?" "you truly demonstrate that your reasoning skills are severely limited. " This is what you have done. Ask any neutral party. "they should try to change the laws to exempt the taxpayers from the liability of having to pay their pensions." - So you want an employee to actively seek to diminish his/her retirement benefits? Again, where is the logic in this?
linda smith May 11, 2012 at 02:18 AM
TKK -- you want to know where you resorted to name calling? Read this: "TKK --9:03 pm on Thursday, May 10, 2012 What is disappointing is the hatred, jealousy, misinformation and outright ignorance of the opinions expressed on this board. Secondly, This statement reverts to name calling.
linda smith May 11, 2012 at 02:25 AM
TKK read this: Public employees contribute to their pensions (albeit not a great amount). 401k contributions are often matched up to a percentage by employers. Teachers do not have this option - instead, the "match" comes at the end of their carer in the form of a pension. So, you state teachers have no other option but to accept the "match" at the end of their career? Are the teachers being held at force to receive these "matches"? Oh, so laughable! The world is laughing at you. Another quote from you: would love to engage in an intelligent and logical debate. I hope that your responses are not simply filled with vitriol. Seems like you are the angry one here who is spewing out hatred. People in the private sector have been either laid off, had their salaries cut or they are about to lose their homes. Have you not read the newspapers? These are not stellar economic times. Teachers should expect nothing until the economy clears up and, by the way, teachers and union member salaries should be capped. The teachers are earning upward of six figures and so are the union workers. COLA raises, at best, for those folks. Sanitation workers are earning 120,000 plus overtime. www.seethroughny.net -- I check the salaries and I conduct my research and base my information on fact, not anger.
linda smith May 11, 2012 at 02:26 AM
Very sad day when one cannot admit to the truth.
linda smith May 11, 2012 at 02:27 AM
Have fun, TKK, the BOE is about to lose their place in North Bellmore. Hip Hip Horray!
TKK May 11, 2012 at 02:33 AM
I did not call anybody names, but rather characterized peoples' opinions. An example of name-calling would be "dummy" or "idiot" or some similar word, perhaps a profanity. Nonetheless, perhaps I went too far with "hatred." I am sorry if I offended you. However, most of these comments are complaints about people who have things that many other people don't, such as pensions and good benefits (jealousy); misinformation and ignorance is seen in statements such as that pensions are negotiated by districts or that the principals do most of the administration work, and that other admin. is not needed. Have any of you ever tried running a school??? Regardless, please respond to points I have made with logical and coherent arguments, or ignore them if you cannot or choose not to make counterpoints.
TKK May 11, 2012 at 02:52 AM
The world is laughing at me? I'm sorry, Linda, but any person with no say in the matter or who reads the threads of these posts in a calm, logical manner, would be laughing at you. Yes, I agree - all employees should voluntarily turn down money and benefits that they have earned.
linda smith May 11, 2012 at 03:05 AM
You resorted to name calling -- it is obvious and now you are trying to backpedal. You have not offended me, rather, you have embarrased yourself. As to your comments regarding "jealousy" -- I have two pensions coming to me when I retire -- except my pensions were earned and the taxpayers are not paying my pensions, they are private ones earned from blood, sweat and tears in the private sector. Unfortunately, your opinions are so liberal, you have been blinded and cannot see the forest for the trees. You have revealed yourself as an administrator, teacher or union employee who is disgruntled and angry that you can no longer be living off the fat of the taxpayers funding. Sorry, I will not be responding to any of your delusional posts. Case closed. I win.
Merrick7 May 11, 2012 at 09:46 AM
TKK, you did come on this thread with an unkind and aggressive tone. Please try to be more respectful on the discussion board. Despite what you believe about commenters, claiming that the majority do not think as any of us do. As an example, I vote and attend SD meetings in merrick and bellmore-merrick. Also the budget has not won 60 percent in a few years. Now with late buses and extra curriculars being reduced, the liklihood of passage will decline. Regal made this point in her presentation if you attended it. Also if you are from the community, which I am not sure if you are or you are just a union teacher commenting on various patches. You may hear people who constantly talk about the budget at Bagel Boss or Xtreme Gym, Nicholas James, La Piazza, these people also do read the patch. So as a reply to your comment before your exchange with Linda, yes people do read this and think this way in the community and it is unlikely it will pass with above 60 percent. Although all of us I believe agreed it was likely to pass this year, but not so in my opinion next year if these cuts deepen. Also as I said pensions are set by the state by law, but can you please cite your source which states they cannot renegotiate to contribute more? Because it was my understanding when I contacted the State Regents office this morning that among other questions I had unions can negotiate to contribute more than the required amount.
TKK May 12, 2012 at 01:47 AM
I am sorry if you feel that i was disrespectful. Perhaps I was angry when I first posted because some of the things said about teachers were offensive. Regardless, let me respond to your points. I agree that many people in the community feel the way the posters do. All I said is that the majority of the people (at least the majority of those who vote) feel differently, because the budget passes. Regarding the late buses and other cuts. I understand that maybe community members will be frustrated and vote no, but all that would mean is that more services would have to be cut. So I don't see how that would serve the interests of those who are upset with some services already being cut. Regarding contributions to pensions, I didn't say that teachers are not allowed to contribute more. I just fail to understand why any working person would voluntarily lower his/her take-home income? Would you? How can we expect other people to do what we ourselves would (probably) not do?
Steve May 15, 2012 at 08:52 PM
Are you suggesting not paying teachers well? Should teachers not be able to afford to live on Long Island? Even better lets give them poor salaries so that people dont want to become teachers and then you have idiots teaching your children. Think about it. If its such an important job shouldnt we pay well qualified people to do it?
Merrick7 May 16, 2012 at 06:34 AM
O I did not personally but the other commenter did. But yes from my view it was offensive from the outset. You can be annoyed about people's opinions about teachers, but the point is to keep the discussion civil. In response to the community if you follow percentage passage it has been decreasing in percentage points each year. This year was 51 percent passage that is the lowest in five years and it has been consistently declining. So those who vote's view is changing. Yes more services would be cut but it sends a message to board members who have not had a failed budget in over 20 years that they must negotiate tougher with union teachers. It says the first things to be cut should be administrative pay and instructional. The failed budget says not enough has been done to prepare an acceptable budget. It should be reworked. That is the same reason a tax cap was instituted and evaluation system with higher value in ratings. It is to force severe cuts in services because contracts cannot be altwred to arouse the majority to respond to the contracts and blame teachers for failed budgets and obscene costs in taxes. Well getting into the pension contribution, first would I personally? No but then again I am not in a public service job. It is a service to the community it is based on taxing the community. So yes I should be there to help others. Also where it has been done it is usually an exchange for a different benefit


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