Hewlett-Woodmere Board of Education members have concerns with the proposed 2021-22 budget that was presented as a nearly a 2 percent spending increase from the current fiscal plan.
The district’s assistant Superintendent for Business Marie Donnelly presented the budget proposal at the Feb. 10 meeting. The proposal is $129,358,256, a $2,475,624 increase from the 2020-21 budget.
The projected tax levy is $108,341,484, a 1.95 percent increase. Donnelly said the proposed budget was decreased by $840,000 from the Jan. 28 meeting.
“The board gave feedback and we made some generic reductions with personnel and some non-personnel matters,” she said. “Mother nature then threw us a curve ball last week and impacted the detailed discussions we were going to have about the cuts.” Donnelly added that district officials will meet before the next budget presentation on March 10.
Trustee Mitchell Greebel said that he was hoping for a larger budget decrease. The budget vote is on May 11 (the state allowed districts with large Jewish populations to move the date for budget and trustee election from May 17 because of the Shavout holiday).
“Quite frankly, I’m not really crazy with where we’re at and I’m concerned going forward as a board and a community,” he said. “The bottom line is every district in Nassau County is feeling the same way. As far as I’m concerned, things have been bad the last year and now is the time to grab the scissors and cut the things that need to be cut out.”
Greebel added that he thinks now would be a better time to make cuts rather than a year or two down the line. “After going through this pandemic, telling people a year or two from now that we’re going to have to start cutting will be a problem and I don’t think the community is going to accept that,” he said. “I would like to see it cut down more now. There’s a lot of low hanging fruit that needs to be cut that we’ve been putting off for whatever reason.”
Board President Debra Sheinin pointed out that the district has a $10 million surplus generated by savings from having the school buildings closed last because of the coronavirus pandemic. She said the surplus can be used to offset costs in the current proposal.
“I think that as a board we all agree that we do need to right-size our budget and make sure we are cutting where we can,” Sheinin said. “Yes we do need to make cuts, but is now the right time to make these cuts?”
Trustee Cheryl May said that it is important to cut down on costs, but not to the detriment of the students. “There’s a lot going on in this world and I don’t know if right now is the time to shortchange the kids,” May said. “I feel that the children have suffered because of Covid and I would hate to take away any programs that might be beneficial to them.”
The next budget meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, March 10 at 6:30 p.m. More budget information can be found at: https://bit.ly/375pxBo.
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