The Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District board of education opened Wednesday’s budget meeting with the news that teachers and administrators voted to decline their contracted raises for the 2011-2012 school year.
According to Superintendent Dr. Henry Kiernan, this will save the district about $840,000.
“We are very proud of what [the teachers] are doing in order to help with this budget,” Kiernan said.
Nina Lanci, president of the board, echoed the superintendent's sentiment. “The board of education would like to thank everyone for their selflessness in these tough economic times,” she said.
Mike Dolber, president, BMUST, also stood up to acknowledge how meaningful it is to the community that board and the teachers were able to collaborate and come up with a plan to save jobs and money.
“We strongly felt that the sacrifice that needed to be made and we needed to do it to save the jobs of our colleagues. We hope that we will be able to continue this collaborative relationship with the board in years to come,” he said.
The board is proposing a 5.8 tax-levy increase for the 2011-2012 school year, which is mostly because of the cuts that the district has taken in state aid. The board discussed some of the recent adjustments to the budget, including increasing fuel costs, which have been affected by the crisis in Japan as well as the Middle Eastern uprisings. To make sure the district has enough to cover any added expenses, the board moved $200,000 into the category to cover any fuel costs or a change in transportation costs.
The board also announced that it plans to authorize the use of the remainder of the capital fund on necessary school repairs. The roof work at Mepham, Calhoun, Kennedy and Merrick Avenue will be completed, the tracks at both Grand Avenue and Merrick Avenue will be re-done and repairs will begin on the roof at Grand Avenue.
As for the issue of the installation of synthetic turf, the board rejected a petition to install the turf because of the wording that was put on the petition.
Although there were about 600 signatures on the petition according to audience member John Pinto, the board was advised to reject the petition by the council because the petition dictated that the money to install the turf would come from funds that cannot be used for capital improvements. Because there are several legalities at this point and pending legislation, it has yet to be seen if the board will motion for a public referendum regarding the turf field.
One of the concerns brought up by an audience member is that if the public is quick to vote down a referendum on the same ballot as the budget, the budget may suffer.
“I know that a lot of people are concerned that if someone goes into the voting booth, there is concern that if they put down no for a referendum, they may put down no on the budget too. Please think about not putting the referendum on the same ballot as the budget,” she added.
The board will adopt a budget at the next meeting, which will take place on April 6 at 8 p.m.