Board’s plan maintains programs & class sizes;
proposed tax levy increase is below NYS cap
The Great Neck Board of Education has adopted the proposed 2022–23 school budget in the amount of $261,432,690. This amount is a 3.66 percent increase over last year’s budget. The proposed tax levy increase is 2.57 percent, which is significantly below the tax cap limit of 3.36 percent.
The proposed budget will:
• Continue all programs at the elementary and secondary levels
• Maintain small elementary class sizes, in accordance with board guidelines
• Introduce two guidance counselor positions at the elementary level, as mandated by the state, to monitor academic progress and increase support for students’ social and emotional well-being
• Add one guidance counselor at each of the secondary schools to provide additional support for students and parents in relation to academic, career, and social development
• Expand the district’s intensive needs program at the high school level to support a growing number of intensive needs students moving up through the middle school program
• Provide ongoing professional development training for faculty and staff.
“As a school district, we go above and beyond to ensure that every student receives the services, academic programs, and social and emotional support to achieve their personal best,” says Superintendent Dr. Teresa Prendergast. “I thank the Board of Education for adopting this fiscally sound budget, which truly represents the needs of every single student.”
Increase in State Aid Offsets Tax Levy
Every February, the district publishes a preliminary budget that is continuously reviewed by administration and discussed during public budget presentations throughout March and April. On April 9, just days before the proposed 2022–23 school budget was finalized, the New York State legislature passed a state budget that provides more education funding for Great Neck than previously anticipated. This increase in state aid, along with a careful review of expenditures, allowed the District to lower the preliminary tax levy without compromising programs and services.
“This is a fiscally responsible budget for our top-rated schools,” says Board Vice President Donna Peirez. “We are making smart, student-centered investments where it matters most, such as maintaining small class sizes and adding additional guidance counselors to support our students.”
To balance the 2022–23 budget and offset the tax burden on residents, the District will appropriate over $14.6 in fund balance and reserves, which are unspent funds from prior years. This funding will help to cover contractual salary increases, hikes in health-insurance premiums, and other planned expenditures. The proposed budget also allocates nearly $1.5 million in additional state aid to offset the financial burden on taxpayers.
“We are ever-mindful of the difficult balancing act between maintaining Great Neck’s pre-eminent breadth of academic, programmatic, athletic, and artistic offerings for students of all ages and abilities; the safety and wellness of students and staff; as well as the felt impact of Nassau County property taxes on residents vested in Great Neck, particularly during this inflationary cycle,” explains Board President Rebecca Sassouni. “I believe this year’s proposed budget strikes this delicate balance.”
“Public school budgeting continues to be a challenge with unfunded mandates, record-breaking inflation, the remnants of a global pandemic, and a property tax assessment system that is being corrected over a number of years,” explains John Powell, assistant superintendent for business. “This budget is an efficient spending plan that addresses these issues and enhances an excellent, highly ranked education program that meets the needs of all students.”
New York State’s Property Tax Cap
Since the inception of the tax-cap legislation in 2012, Great Neck’s proposed tax rate increases have been at or below the State-mandated lax levy limit. The proposed tax levy increase of 2.57 percent is significantly below the 2022–23 tax levy limit of 3.36 percent.
Multiple factors affect the actual limit, including changes to the tax base, rate of inflation, payments in lieu of taxes, debt payments, capital project expenditures, transportation equipment purchases and pension increases above a certain percentage.
Validation of Fiscal Practices
Great Neck is among a select few school districts 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, reports favorably on Great Neck’s internal control system of checks and balances and procedures that are supported by Board policies.
Substantial Services for Non-Public School Students
The district, in accordance with State law, allocates more than $7.5 million to provide services to private and non-public school students, including bus transportation, textbooks, health services, special education services, school library materials and computer software loan programs.
Third-Lowest Class I Property Tax Rates
Great Neck’s 2021–22 school tax rate for single-family homes, or Class I properties, was the third-lowest of all the school districts in Nassau County.
The annual school budget vote will take place on Tuesday, May 17, 2022. Polls will be open from 7:00 a.m.–10:00 p.m. There are four polling locations for school district elections: 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.
Residents can check their assigned voting location using the Poll Place Finder on the District website at www.greatneck.k12.ny.us/voting. This information is also available by calling the District Clerk on school days between 9:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m. at 516-441-4020.
For More Information
The 2022–23 proposed budget may be viewed on the District website at www.greatneck.k12.ny.us/budget. For details about the budget, voter registration, absentee ballots and voting, please call 516-441-4020.
—Submitted by the Great Neck Public School District
Board’s plan maintains programs & class sizes;