Northport BOE Adopts 2011-12 Budget; Adds Proposition to Fund Repairs

Trustees approved the return of $187,927 in additional state aid to taxpayers to reduce tax levy to 1.83%; Proposition 2 on May ballot would draw from capital reserve fund for repairs at East Northport Middle School and Brosnan Administration Building.

The Northport Board of Education adopted a 2011-12 budget of $151,178,758 at its meeting Wednesday, April 13. It also approved a return of $187,927 in additional state aid to taypayers, reducing the proposed tax rate from 1.98% to 1.83%.

The board also approved adding Proposition 2 to the May ballot, which would tap a maximum of  $900,000 from the capital reserve fund of $1.4 million to repair two boilers at the East Northport Middle School, as well as the steps in front of the , which have become damaged by skateboarders and general wear-and-tear.

Trustees engaged in a lengthy discussion about possible improvements to playing fields. In the end, they approved the use of $600,000 through an interfund transfer to repair the athletic fields at both of the middle schools, as well as upgrading the 50-year-old electrical service at the Northport Middle School.

The budget and trustee is scheduled for May 17. See

Boilers Trump “Univents”
Before the board reached a decision on boiler repairs, there was much discussion of other repair work that is needed at the middle schools. “Univents” – those cabinets in the back of the classrooms which provide heat – are showing their age, according to Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds Anthony Resca. 

Trustee Lori McCue asked if new univents could be added to the Request for a Proposal (RFP) for an energy performance contract that is currently being vetted. In response to a question from resident Carl Litt,  Assistant Superintendent for Business Kathleen Molander said the responses to the request for proposals is being reviewed by the district’s law firm Ingerman Smith and should be ready to be released by the end of May or beginning of June.

Superintendent Marylou McDermott emphasized the need to prioritize, and spoke in favor of new boilers. Resca agreed that he thought the boilers were more important, and resident Joesph Sabia commented on possible cost savings if new boilers were installed.

Improving the Playing Fields
At the suggestion of Board President Stephen Waldenburg, trustees looked at possible improvements to playing fields.

Athletic Director Drew Cronin said the fields at both the Northport and East Northport middle schools —which are used for lacrosse, football, and soccer —are safe, but are in need of upgrades due to constant use by leagues as well as school teams.

Cronin estimated that the cost to re-sod and add an irrigation system to the fields would be $190,000 each. 

Molander said those estimates were based on numbers compiled a few years ago and would need to include an architect’s fee. She suggested adding 25%, bringing the total for field repairs to $475,000.

Because of restrictions in the use of capital reserve funds, field repairs cannot be included.  Trustee Joe Gannon suggested creating a new capital reserve fund with broader wording and less restrictions on use.

Cronin confirmed that a number of school teams are using Veterans Park in East Northport in March and April at a cost of $1900, but that due to an agreement with the Town of Huntington, use is limited to between 3:00 and 5:00 every day. While that allows some of the fields to “rest," community leagues contribute a lot of wear-and tear as well.

Waldenburg said it was a “tough line to walk” to restrict the league’s access to fields but that  he’d like to see the administration create a procedure to give fields a rest rather than having the board create a policy.

Trustee Donna McNaughton noted that the district does not currently have a pole vault. Resca said that students practice at an alternate site but that the high school forfeits points when hosting meets. One resident suggested that boosters could raise funds to support the $15,000 purchase of a pole vault.

Comments from the Public
Former trustee Rob Ingraham asked how much money has been allotted in the budget for unallocated teaching positions. McDermott said that the administration now builds in money to allow for other things besides staff, such as increased AIS. The total amount is $527,000 and Molander confirmed that any leftover money is returned to the general fund.

Resident Joseph Sabia asked how the district could achieve a 0% increase for taxpayers. Molander confirmed that the budget would need to be reduced by $2.2 million.  However, if no reserves were used, that reduction would need to grow to $4.5 million.

Resident Barbara Galofaro asked McDermott for clarification about the district’s contract negotiations with the United Teachers of Northport. The district has proposed removing the weighting of students from the contract so that it can be treated as policy.

McDermott confirmed that her plan to cap class size at 23 unweighted, rather than the current 29 weighted would still allow enough space for students to move in from other classes.

Galofaro, who worked in the district when there was no weighting, advised against such a policy. She said teachers take into account the needs of weighted students when planning lessons, and to remove that from the contract negotiation is "deplorable.”

Board VP Karen Wills said she would appreciate Galofaro’s input before any policy is developed.

 Future Meetings
The next Board of Ed meeting will take place on Thursday, April 28 at 7:30 PM in the William J. Brosnan School Cafeteria. The Board will vote on the BOCES Administrative budget and trustees, and a public work session on board policies will follow.

Polly April 14, 2011 at 09:29 PM
Yup. They need the reserves. We'll get hit with LIPA and then you will be thankful.
justsayin4u April 14, 2011 at 10:04 PM
polly, who told you that they are using reserves for LIPA? that is not what they are set up for? there is no board resolution to set up a reserve for lipa. and if they are saving for lipa, why isn't that disclosed in the budget? i don't recall a line item "saving for lipa". do you have more information? please share!! don't put out statements without the facts, please share your facts!
Polly April 14, 2011 at 10:34 PM
No one told me anything. I'm just glad that it's there. Don't you have an emergency fund in your household budget? Do you know exactly what you are going to use it for? No, neither do I. But LIPA *is* looming. Ao, yeah, I'm glad we have the reserves and I'm sorry you aren't.
Polly April 14, 2011 at 10:35 PM
justsayin4u April 14, 2011 at 10:57 PM
the facts: the only reserve that could be used for lipa or anything the district chooses as of today is the 4% reserve, which is maxed out every year. there is no specific reserve for lipa as of today. Polly, how do you know there is a reserve for lipa if you were not told? stick to the facts. if you are speaking to the 4% reserve you should say so. that is the only reserve as of today that could be used for lipa and it is capped representing approximately $5M. all of the other reserves are designated for specific purposes not representing lipa. polly...again stick to the facts this budget is 14% more than their spending. that is outrageous. how many households could increase their spending by 14% year to year? REJECT THIS BUDGET the district decides who to put on the payroll at what salary , which drives up pension and other benefit costs. stick to the facts. polly,give me facts to support this budget.
East N'ptr April 14, 2011 at 11:20 PM
Polly, I hope you hold them to using those reserves when LIPA comes through, I really, really do. I hope you don't get the line "reserves can only be used for certain things". Just a question, do you think they'll stop budgeting and taxing for these huge surpluses when LIPA settles?
Polly April 14, 2011 at 11:27 PM
Oh please justsayin4u, stop baiting me. I told you how I FEEL about it. Accept THAT as fact. You UTN-EN people just don't get that many of us don't feel the same way you do. Get over it. I'm done here. Don't send the flying monkeys, okay? TIA.
Anna April 14, 2011 at 11:50 PM
I think the statement, 'the district is currently running nearly $15M UNDER budget this year..' needs to be substantiated. Are you basing that on the financial report for the period ending 12/31/10 (pg. 3/3) at the link: http://www.boarddocs.com/ny/nens/Board.nsf/files/8ECUNK/$file/10.01+MR&BSR+02_28_11.pdf referenced by E'Nptr in a prior post? Please let us know. If so, DECEMBER 2010 - that's only half the year! Just because it wasn't spent or encumbered (spent, but not yet paid) as of 12/31/2010 doesn't mean it won't be by June 2011, right? Do you stop spending money when it's halfway through the year? Very misleading, but that seems to be par for the course. PLEASE, NORHPORT-EAST NORTHPORT VOTERS - GET THE FACTS AND MAKE UP YOUR OWN MIND....THE FACTS ARE NOT FOUND HERE IN THE COMMENTS.
justsayin4u April 15, 2011 at 12:35 AM
@ anna "Are you basing that on the financial report for the period ending 12/31/10 (pg. 3/3) at the link: http://www.boarddocs.com/ny/nens/Board.nsf/files/8ECUNK/$file/10.01+MR&BSR+02_28_11.pdf referenced by E'Nptr in a prior post? Please let us know. If so, DECEMBER 2010 - that's only half the year! " fact: first it is through 1/31. second the $14.5 includes amounts encumbered through the end of the school year. that means it the underspending includes the spending commitments the district has to the end of the year, particularly their largest expenditure PAYROLL. yes the amount will change a bit, but not by a lot. those are the facts. the district watches every dollar. and if they start spending the UTN will have them by the throat. again the facts..the proposed budget is asking for a 14% INCREASE IN SPENDING. REJECT THIS BUDGET.
East N'ptr April 15, 2011 at 01:22 AM
Anna, Polly, PollyAnna, whoever you may be, I don't think its unfair to reference a budget forecast report from the district that shows 7 months into the year the projected "leftover" is going to be $14.5 million. The public should know this, especially when people are being told the budget has been scrutinized line by line for every possible savings. The Board can't afford to give us a tax cut? Fine, but at the end of this year when there's another $10-$15 million leftover, I think the community will remember the total lack of effort towards reducing the budget. I guess we'll see.
Anna April 15, 2011 at 01:55 AM
There are 2 months of reports included in the link. In 1 month, the "Underspending" as you call it decreased by over $1M. Big surprise....money was spent. So yes, as of 1/31/2011 the amount was $14.5M...and last I checked, as of 1/31/2011 there were still 5 months left in the school year! You say "yes, the amount will change a bit, but not by a lot" - must be nice to know so much. Your statement "the UTN will have them by the throat" is absurd....in fact, your absurd dialog is sounding more and more familiar with each and every post! I'm with you Polly - this has become a waste of time. Anyone who doesn't jump on the bandwagon with these folks can't possibly think for themselves. How about this: I support the budget. I appreciate the financial forethought and planning that it exhibits which I hope will position us for the precarious future ahead. I am thankful that it sustains all programs currently running (to say nothing of the new initiatives that will strengthen our student's learning experiences). I will NOT reject this budget - I will vote yes. I only hope others will take the time to consider the facts and make up their own minds and VOTE!
justsayin4u April 15, 2011 at 02:48 AM
more facts! General Fund Only (in thousands) % OVER actual/budget YEAR ACTUAL BUDGET (UNDER) spending 04-05 $111,120 $110,396 $724 - 05-06 116,882 120,687 (3,805) 9% 06-07 124,134 128,697 (4,563) 10% 07-08 131,169 135,486 (4,317) 9% 08-09 137,477 143,909 (6,432) 10% 09-10 137,657 148,059 (10,402) 8% 10-11 133,557 * 147,487 (13,930) 7% 11-12 YOU JUDGE 151,179 YOU JUDGE 13% * Represents actual spending through January 31, 2011 plus amount encumbered through 06/30/11
Chris April 15, 2011 at 11:59 AM
The simple "fact" is that we will NEVER see a 0% increase or better yet a reduction. This only happens in the "private" sector.
justaxusmore April 15, 2011 at 12:48 PM
The 2010 – 2011 forecasted spending, per the Board’s own reporting, is $133.5M. This represents their best estimate as to their total needs for the year, now that we are over half way through the budget year. The ACTUAL spending for last year, 2009-2010, was $137.7M. It is clear the proposed 2011 – 2012 budget of $151M represents significant growth over the recent spending that has allowed us to maintain our current programs and services. At the April 6 Board meeting there was a parade of community members requesting relief from the Board. Times are tight, and against that backdrop the Board has ignored the pleas of those community members and have made not a single adjustment to the original planned spending for next year, a plan that represents over $10M growth over current uses and needs. This is reprehensible and the community will be made aware of these FACTS. Before anyone starts the name calling, let me assure you I am not a member or affiliate of the UTNEN or any other group. I’m not looking to wreak havoc on our school system but I do expect some rigor in our financial reviews and I expect our Board to demand maximum value for money in using OUR tax dollars. What I have seen is a mentality of not questioning the status quo, simply rolling the budget over year to year and asking the community to pay more and more. Now is not the time to ask for more.
luvjuly4th April 15, 2011 at 06:07 PM
@justaxmemore Well said! I also expect the Board to put rigor into the process and that could be done by changing the antiquated budget process from a rollover budget to actual based analysis, with use of true zero based budgeting. What also concerns me is why does the Board refuse to acknowledge as you describe as the "parade of community members requesting relief"? Isn't their voice worthy of notice? Or does the Board prefer to listen to voices that chant "it is for the kids?" I am concerned that the Board is biased because of their lack of actions as you clearly defined. If any person has a conflict of interest in making rational and unbiased decisions, it should be recognized by authorities, which could result in an immediate expulsion from the Board.
Polly April 15, 2011 at 07:11 PM
LOL! Expulsion of the board? OMG I just spit my coffee at the screen you are so funny! I believe there was also an avalanche of mail supporting the proposed budget. Good thing it's in writing.
2concernedtwo April 16, 2011 at 12:17 AM
At the meeting on April 6, the vast majority of people who pleaded for tax relief made a in-person appeal to the board. Whereas the vast majority of people who wrote in to support the budget did not show up for the meeting. I think july has a point. Why does the board ignore people who take the time to attend a meeting and plead for tax relief but chooses to listen to those who just take the time to send an email?
Polly April 16, 2011 at 03:50 AM
Oh yeah, if a person can't attend a meeting their opinion should be completely thrown out. Good God. This one takes the cake.
Jerry Hannon April 16, 2011 at 04:14 AM
Actually, any Board should pay attention to the expressed views of any district resident, whether expressed in person at a BOE meeting, or sent via E-mail, or even sent via snail mail. But paying attention to the views does not mean being in agreement with those views, and even if one hundred or two hundred people showed up asking for "x", in the final analysis any Board has to determine what is best for the district, its students, and its taxpayers. Frankly, special interest groups -- for any topic or point of view, including those supporting the proposed budget or those opposing it -- are not "right" or "wrong" simply on the basis of numbers of attendees. What really matters most is the vote of the residents -- even those who did not show up at a BOE meeting, or who did not send an E-mail, or who did not write a letter, or convey their own personal views in any way -- and that vote takes place in May.
2concernedtwo April 16, 2011 at 05:44 AM
Yes Jerry, what does count is the vote. The board should listen, not necessarily agree with letters etc. & do what is in the best interests of the community. That is what they SHOULD do. But, I don't believe you attended those meetings. Residents asking for relief came to plead their case at the community input meeting. It was a parade as previously described. At that meeting there was one person present that expressed support for the budget. Few if any emails or letters of support were read. At the meeting when the board was to make their budget decision, there was to be no community input. But by surprise, many emails were read in support of the budget. Call it skepticism if you want, but I believe those emails were specifically requested to coincide with the board's decision that night. That is politics, and very dirty in my opinion. And although the board may not be obligated to state their reasons for their decisions, including the reasons to ignore the pleas of those that did take the time to attend, the board should explain because it is the right thing to do. Most of those folks pleading for relief were long time residents, senior citizens. You know very well of their income constraints. If the board shows no compassion or respect for those folks who have paid their taxes all these years with at least an explantion of their actions, they will not show compassion for the younger ones who could no longer afford to live here. And that includes my children.
Polly April 16, 2011 at 12:16 PM
You are absolutely right, Jerry. The residents will speak at the polls. My prediction: they will vote YES!
Concerned Citizen April 16, 2011 at 12:27 PM
Frankly, I do not understand how our residents can continue to complain and criticize the budget we are being asked to support. A tax levy increases of less than 2% would be considered a gift in many districts on Long Island. Are you seeing what is happening in William Floyd, Huntington, Central Islip? It seems there are dozens of school districts that are cutting programs from children and laying off teachers just to keep their tax increases in the single digits! The post that lays out some of differences between actual and budgeted line items in the budget needs to realize is that is where the “Allocated Fund Balance” is stored in the budget and has an offsetting revenue number in the budget, albeit is just one big number and not associated with anything specific. People need to understand before they criticize. The big issue I have with our BOE is why is there such a lack of transparency? Why is it that we are so surprised that our reserves big enough to get us through this year with a tax levy well below the average while still adding staff? Even with a big cut in state aid, we have enough money to get us through with a comparably low increase. I do not know whether to kiss our BOE and administration, or kick them. But I know that we must support the budget as it is in the best interest of our children and community.
East N'ptr April 16, 2011 at 02:37 PM
I don't know yet how I will vote for the budget, but I firmly believe that the public hasn't been given the full picture. The difference between the actual and budgeted expenditures isn't just a few million dollars to keep our reserve funds healthy....its tens of millions of dollars over the past few years. And I don't understand the concept of budgeting and taxing today for an "Allocated Fund Balance" so that it can be used in subsequent years as revenue to reduce the tax levy. The Board is essentially asking the public for a loan to use as revenue in the future. Talk to Nassau County about that strategy. I also don't think the public realizes all of the new spending that's in this budget, almost all of it being spent on non-essential items (new administrator jobs, new equipment & buses, netbooks for staff, etc.) that we've lived without until now. I would have liked to see an explanation of what cuts were made in the budget to justify this spending. Sounds like the 1.5 special ed weighting is one place. Is is ok for the Board to be asking taxpayers to pay for these upgrades in these economic times? Is it ok to have$10-$15 million surpluses each year and tell taxpayers to just "suck it up" and pay a small tax increase? Is it appropriate for the Board to break their own rules (letters must be submitted 5 days before a Board meeting) in order to justify their actions in ignoring the folks who asked for a break? I guess the budget vote will give the answers.
2concernedtwo April 16, 2011 at 03:55 PM
The 1.83% school tax increase is artificial because it uses debt to offset the proposed increase in spending of nearly 14%. That debt comes from the taxpayers interest free. The board was not transparent in their deliberation of the budget. Changes in lines items were relegated to reclassifications in the budget coding. There was no explanation, no intense or rigorous scrutiny of why $151M is needed to run a district when they have been only spending $137M more or less in recent years, & that amount includes contractual raises. The management strategy of this district is to overtax & underspend. That strategy is worthless in the private sector & unlike the private sector, the district uses taxpayer funds, not investor funds who understand risk of loss. The district must be held to a much higher standard when they go to the community & ask to spend $151M. And believe me, there will be no surprise to the district for year’s underspending; at this time it is projected to be approximately $15M. That is deplorable.
2concernedtwo April 16, 2011 at 03:56 PM
Many in this community, including myself, could easily afford a 1.83% school tax rate. But is that a reason to vote for the budget? Look around, do you know someone who went without heat this winter, or had to visit the food pantry to feed their family. I do. Also what about all those folks currently grieving their property taxes? And don’t forget the senior citizens. Step out of your circle & look around. This board has no compassion. They could have increased their actual spending by 5% & decrease school tax rate. But no, they did not see beyond their supporters. Their hearts are black & cold. I will reject this budget based on that principle.
Concerned Citizen April 16, 2011 at 05:47 PM
But you have completely avoided the value of education. Our kids are graduating and going off to universities all over the country. I understand your frustration, but regardless of the economy and the hardship that falls on good people, education of children still is a priority of society. You can't turn your back on these principles of a great society.
2concernedtwo April 16, 2011 at 06:01 PM
@concerned citizen. I am not ignoring the value of education. Whatever "value" our kids attained they did on $137M more or less. And, your comment assumes that the more money that is spent, the more "value" the kids get. I equate value with outcomes. Outcomes come from great teachers, hard working students, great test scores, college placement and all the other benefits that come from a great education. Frankly, I did not see that extra "value" in $151M. I just saw a request for extra spending. I will reject this budget for even more reasons.
Concerned Citizen April 16, 2011 at 11:40 PM
@2Concernedtwo I made no comment that would bring you to that assumption. Your previous post entirely spoke of money and hardship, but avoided to discuss the importance of education. You seem completely consumed by your point of view and are looking to pass the guilt of voting NO to someone else. If you’re frustrated that the cost of delivering an education to the children of Northport is elevating faster than you can handle, or than it should be for anyone to handle, fine. I get it! However, I am tired of people who only focus on the money and forget about the children as much as I am tired of people who stand on a soapbox and talk about education with no regard to spending. Education of children is fundamental to any society, and managing schools well so costs do not outpace the funding sources is important to keep education thriving. If you want to vote no, vote no, we all have a different financial capabilities. But, if you can afford it and choose not to approve the budget and want to be free of the guilt over it, sorry, you will not get a free pass from me.
2concernedtwo April 17, 2011 at 02:59 PM
@concerned citizen. I disagree with your comment above for the following reasons: It was your response that said I ignored education "value". You made the connection between the tax increase and education value. Not I. I clearly responded that spending does not equate to educational "value". I have no guilt. I did not make the decision to ignore the compassionate and personal pleas of individuals seeking tax relief. I have commented that the board should have considered those pleas and acted on them. The board could have AT A MINIMUM HAD NO INCREASE IN SCHOOL TAXES WITHOUT SACRIFICING ACADEMIC PROGRAMS ETC. THAT THIS DISTRICT OFFERS. They decided otherwise. They MAY have guilt. But in any case, THEY HAVE TO LIVE WITH THEIR DECISION. However, in my opinion, any concerned citizen with compassion would have not made that decision. You said "I am tired of people who only focus on the money and forget about the children as much as I am tired of people who stand on a soapbox and talk about education with no regard to spending." Concerned Citizen, if you can't stand the heat, get out of the frying pan. Unlike the Board, my decision will come at the polls. And given the recent headline this weekend, the fair offer of the UTN and assuming the Board accepts their offer, the proposed budget should be REVISED before May 17. But until and if that occurs, I now have more reasons to REJECT THE BUDGET.
Concerned Citizen April 17, 2011 at 04:25 PM
Can't respond to your myopic dribble any more... Do what you have to do behind a blog moniker and behind the curtain on May 17th.


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