The Glen Cove Central School District proposed a balanced budget for the 2016-17 school year to the Board of Education on Monday, April 11, which is set for adoption on Tuesday, April 19. The $82 million budget will represent a tax levy decrease of 0.32 percent from the current year. Also on the ballot will be a referendum for a change in transportation next year, allowing more children to take the bus to school.
Victoria Galante, assistant superintendent for business, presented the proposed budget, which reflects an increase in revenue of $1,219,642 as well as an increase in appropriations of the same amount. She said the district is expected to receive $1,061,811 more in the 2016-17 school year from Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILOTS) due to the LIPA property being taken off of the tax roll. The district is also expected to receive $825,551 more in state aid. On the appropriations side, an expected savings of $24,800 should come from a lower price than originally budgeted for the new voting machines, and the district will see more than $600,000 in savings from retirements last year and the reduction of one administrator position.
The proposed budget reductions for next year include a savings of $150,000 in the central office from not filling the human resources position (which is currently not filled), a savings of $150,000 in administration costs from moving administrators around, $45,000 from the resignation of a clerical position and $120,000 from three retirements.
The budget preserves all current programs, expands humanities and research at the middle school, adds new course offerings at the high school, includes the addition of new interior bleachers at the high school and the replacement of the temporary oil tank at Connolly School with a permanent oil tank, and also includes auditorium alterations at the high school.
One big change the district will see next year is the opportunity for all students in kindergarten through fifth grade to have busing. The range for busing students in middle school and high school will be reduced to a one-mile radius, instead of a mile and a half, meaning students who live a mile or more away from the school will be eligible to take the bus. Rianna said they are still confirming the logistics of school start times and will be monitoring the number of children riding the bus as the new changes come in the fall. This will be a separate referendum on the May 17 ballot that residents will need to approve before it goes into effect.
The board was also given a presentation on differentiated instruction; teachers gave examples of their lessons and how it is used in their classrooms. Because the Common Core curriculum is the same for honors and regular ELA and social studies classes, the district has been discussing taking away the middle school honors programs for those two courses.
Many parents expressed concern that the kids on the top tier might get left behind for numerous reasons, including the need for teachers to spend more time with students who require more help and the lack of incentive for students to push themselves when their peers are not doing the same level of work.
“Middle school students don’t always choose the most challenging projects,” said Karen Ferguson.
Ray Pinder said that he thought that differentiated instruction was a good thing for classrooms, but it should not be a replacement for honors.
“This should be a baseline; all teachers should be using differentiated instruction, but we still need an honors program,” he said.
Dr. Michael Israel, assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and technology, explained that students will still have the opportunity to take honors courses in ninth grade.
The community will be alerted to the next presentation to the board about the changes.
“No matter what, we will ensure that we meet the needs of all of the diverse learners in the district,” said Superintendent Maria Rianna.