Board’s plan maintains programs and class sizes; enhances safety and security
After extensive public discussion and input, the Board of Education has adopted the proposed 2018–19 school budget in the amount of $229,845,028—a 2.93 percent increase over last year’s budget. The proposed tax levy increase is 2.52 percent, which is below the tax cap limit of 2.89 percent.
The proposed budget will:
• Maintain all current programs at the elementary and secondary levels;
• Safeguard elementary and secondary class sizes, per board guidelines;
• Add one school psychologist and one social worker to support staff;
• Include funding for textbooks, training and materials for new curricula, including the Next Generation Science Standards and revised New York State Social Studies framework;
• Provide ongoing professional development training for faculty and staff;
• Add five additional security guards and enhance safety measures district wide.
“With this proposed budget, our students will continue to receive the innovative instruction that has established the Great Neck Public Schools as a premier school district on Long Island, in the state and in the country,” explained Superintendent of Schools Dr. Teresa Prendergast. “I am grateful for the support of the board in presenting this fiscally responsible budget, which preserves our high-quality academic and extracurricular programs.”
The proposed budget allocates approximately $1.5 million from the district’s capital reserves and fund balance for a one-time Security Capital Project to strengthen security at the main entrances of all district facilities. The scope of this project includes: the construction of double-door security vestibules, or “man-traps,” at all main entrances; electronic locks on both sets of interior and exterior doors; an intercom buzzer system; an additional security camera at each entrance; and a secure pass through for drop-off items. Main entrance doors, adjacent glass and interior entrance doors will be treated with bullet-resistant film or glazing.
“Our district has consistently invested in safety and security initiatives over recent years and this increased budget allocation to address security concerns beyond those measures demonstrates our commitment to providing the safest environment for our students and staff,” said Board President Barbara Berkowitz.
The district has two external security audits scheduled for later this spring—one through the Nassau County Police Department in coordination with the Village of Lake Success and Kings Point Police Departments and a second through an independent security firm. Based on the results of these assessments, additional security projects for the 2018–19 school year may be funded through the district’s reserves.
NYS’s Property Tax Cap
The 2018–19 school year is the seventh in which school districts must abide by New York State’s tax-cap legislation. Multiple factors affect the actual limit, and the tax-levy limit for 2018–19 is 2.85 percent.
The tax-levy limit “incorporates changes to the tax base, the rate of inflation, payments in lieu of taxes, debt payments, capital project expenditures, transportation equipment purchases and pension increases above a certain percentage,” explained John Powell, assistant superintendent for business.
To estimate your 2018–19 school tax liability, visit www.greatneck.k12.ny.us and click on School Tax Estimator.
Revenues in 2018–19
To balance the 2018–19 budget, the district will appropriate $2.3 million in fund balances and reserves, which were unspent from prior years. These funds will help cover contractual salary increases, hikes in health-insurance premiums and other planned expenditures. The district also allocates approximately $4 million annually for ongoing health and safety capital projects to maintain its facilities.
Anticipated increases in revenue, such as tuition Great Neck collects from other school districts that enroll their students in programs offered here, will also offset expenses. These enrollments continue to be a significant revenue source and it is anticipated that they will yield nearly $1.9 million in revenue in 2018–19.
Validation of Fiscal Practices
Great Neck is one of only nine school districts—and 33 public entities overall—in New York State to earn an “Aaa” rating from Moody’s Investors Service. This rating means that the district’s financial obligations are judged by Moody’s to be of the highest quality and, therefore, subject to the lowest level of credit risk. In the annual New York State–required external audit of the school district, the certified public accounting firm of Cullen & Danowski, LLP, reported favorably on Great Neck’s management of finances, emphasizing a strong financial position, wise investments, an internal control system of checks and balances, and procedures that are supported by board policies.
“Our goal is to preserve the financial strength of the district to ensure we can maintain the phenomenal quality of our schools,” said Board Vice President Donald Ashkenase.
Fifth-Lowest Property Taxes
Great Neck’s 2017–18 school tax rate for single-family homes, or Class I properties, was the fifth lowest of all the school districts in Nassau County.
Services for Nonpublic Schoolers
In accordance with state law, the district allocates more than $5 million to provide services to private and nonpublic school students, including bus transportation, textbooks, health services, special-education services, school library materials and computer software loan programs.
For More Information
The 2018–19 proposed budget may be viewed at www.greatneck.k12.ny.us.
Printed copies of the budget are available at the Phipps Administration Building, 345 Lakeville Rd. Reference copies can be found in the schools and Great Neck libraries. For details about the budget, voter registration, absentee ballots and voting, call 516-441-4020.
The annual school budget vote will be held on Tuesday, May 15, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. As of December 2017, the four polling locations for school district elections are E.M. Baker School, Lakeville School, Saddle Rock School and South High School. Registered voters will only be permitted to cast a ballot at their assigned polling location.
Postcards have been mailed to registered voters to remind residents of their assigned polling location. This information is also available by calling the district clerk at 516-441-4020 on school days from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. or by using the Poll Place Finder at www.greatneck.k12.ny.us.
Learn about the candidates running for Board of Education trustee positions here.