76 Security Cameras Requested in Northport School Budget

$167,500 toward more cameras to monitor situations and provide backup in the event of a police investigation.

After a presentation given by Superintendent Marylou McDermott on the status of the , Board members scrutinized line items in the proposed 2012-2013 budget until well after midnight on Monday. A PDF of the proposed budget is attached to the article.

At the Board's request, McDermott had presented on March 7: The first budget, reflecting a 1.657 percent budget-to-budget increase with a two percent tax levy would maintain all staff and programs in the district but would require the use of approximately $2.2 million in reserves.

A zero percent budget-to-budget increase with a zero percent tax levy would require the reduction of $2.8 million through cuts to staff and programs and the use of $2.2 million in reserves.

At Monday's line-by-line review, Trustee Jennifer Thompson noted that for the third consecutive year, Superintendent McDermott has taken a salary freeze.  She earns $233,000.

The cost of running elections will increase by approximately $10,000 due to higher rental costs for new voting machines and the legal requirement that the district have paper ballots available. District Clerk Beth Nystrom said 11,500 paper ballots will be printed at a cost of $.57 per ballot.

UTNEN president Armand D'Accordo noted the increase in legal fees from $350,000 to a proposed $368,000, which takes into account a possible 4 percent increase from district counsel Ingerman Smith. Currently the district pays Ingerman a $55,000 retainer fee, which includes contract negotiations. Their hourly rate is $195.00  Board President Stephen Waldenburg noted that negotiations have been going on since the contract expired at the end of June 2010.  "I think the district does get a very fair representation," he noted.

"That's a fair point," D'Accordo agreed. But resident Fred Trudwig disagreed in light of only a two percent increase for clerical staff. 

Trustees as well as D'Accordo questioned the need to appropriate $40,000 for printing costs for the "Our Schools" newsletter. Mailing costs of report cards also came under scrutiny, with Trustee Tammie Topel asking if there could be a way for parents to opt-out of receiving mailings since information is readily available through the Parent Portal.

A proposed increase of $167,500 would go to 76 additional security cameras for all schools in the district. Both Security Supervisor Nolan Briggs as well as Northport Middle School Principal Tim Hoss noted the need for more cameras to monitor situations and provide backup in the event of a police investigation.

An additional $16,000 is proposed for a new chain link fence to replace the post and rail fence at the Ocean Avenue Elementary School. In response to a question from an audience member, Principal Sabina Larkin cited safety concerns, saying it would block off the bus circle and soccer fields.

As for the 5.5 FTEs at Northport High School that would need to be eliminated as part of a zero percent tax levy increase, Principal McLaughlin noted that roughly 630 students would be affected and would need to attend a study hall. “We would still have to figure out what classes to eliminate,” she said, noting that study halls would still require supervision.

Training of 55 instructors in the International Baccalaureate (IB) program would require $165,000.  McLaughlin said that approximately 25 percent of every department is currently IB trained, and that the hope is that the training will spill over to other non-IB courses.

Topel made a plea for more cuts to items such as postage, rather than staff and programs. "There are a few of us on the Board who want a zero percent budget," she said. "But we don't want programs cut. We're looking for other ways to cut the budget without hurting programs."

"I don't think any of us wants cuts," McDermott said. "I think it comes down to a philosophy about budgeting. Our long range plan has served us well."

Trustee Joe Sabia disagreed. "I make no bones about it. I have a different philosophy than Dr. McDermott,” he said.

At one point in the meeting, Waldenburg reminded Trustees that the purpose of the meeting was to examine expenditures and agree on them. "And then we can figure out how to fund it."

The Board will continue its line-by-line review at the March 26 BOE meeting, which will take place at 7:30 in the Northport High School large cafeteria.

karen from East Northport March 23, 2012 at 10:09 PM
Why in the world would our schools need all those security camera's? Is there something so terrible going on that everyone needs to be spied on? Is vandalism that much of a problem? And where exactly do they want to place these camera's? Bathroom? The teachers lounge? Main office? And, who is going to monitor them? Should there ever be police action, what gives the administrators the right to turn them over? It should be court action, not police action that would be able to view them by subpeona only. Civil rights are involved here.I am so glad I don't have any more children attending school in this district because it appears things are going downhill. Oh and may I suggest putting a camera in the HS principals office.
Amy Waldahuer March 24, 2012 at 12:02 PM
I agree with Karen. The cameras are unnecessary. While the situation at Northport Middle School needs to be addressed (5 or 6 years ago I know there was a lot of physical bullying), cameras are probably not the answer. I would rather see that money go towards IB training for the teachers. My son is in the IB program and I think his teachers are great. If more had the training it would benefit all the students, including those who are not in the IB program.
Katie Bell March 24, 2012 at 01:07 PM
$165,000 for IB training in an already authorized IB school? That sounds mighty fishy to me. In fact, it sounds an awful lot like Northport is going to implement the IB MYP without telling the parents its plans. www.truthaboutib.com
paul senzer March 24, 2012 at 07:44 PM
70+ additional cameras? are you people serious? Northport High is a joke
FYI March 24, 2012 at 10:10 PM
Additional cameras are needed at the high school in areas that aren't covered now. Parking lots where many "questionable activities" take place at all hours are public spaces that should be included into the current system which has been very effective.
Tammy Walsh March 25, 2012 at 04:57 AM
Has anyone questioned the drug problem in the district which young kids are dying from while thinking no more cameras are needed ???? Greg Walsh
karin brennan March 25, 2012 at 01:31 PM
I agree with Greg and Tammy. Northport and East Northport have a very serious drug problem happening and NOT enough is being done about it. Karin Brennan
karen from East Northport March 25, 2012 at 10:12 PM
Yes, it does Karin. With out a doubt, and it has for a very very long time. And, I don't have the answers. But I question where do the kids get the money? And, you can't tell me the parents don't notice changes of their children at home. Latch key children and uninvolved parents are also part of the problem. It is very difficult to be a parent today. Unfortunately in todays society we can't raise our kids the way our parents raised us. Remember the wooden spoon? Being sent to bed without supper? Now it's child abuse. These kids have no fear and they don't realize that once you put it in your arm you just ruined your life.
wondering March 26, 2012 at 12:09 AM
I wonder why these overdoses are not publicized? I could see if they did not want to publicize the names, but if they listed age, town, and if they passed away or were saved maybe it would wake up some of these kids, parents, community members to the severity of the problem.
karin brennan March 26, 2012 at 02:56 AM
They used to say it takes a whole neighborhood to raise a child. The problem is nobody even really knows there neighbors anymore. I remember growing up in this town things were so different and yes I went to public school and in 4th grade my teacher hit me with a ruler. I went home a told my mother...well her response was I probably deserved it and I 'll tell you what..i never let that happen again! Lesson learned! Why? We had fear and respect back then didn't we? That's a HUGE problem today because respect for authority is long gone. For Mr Wondering , I can say we are all to blame just take a good look around. Technology for one,moral values etc...what are kids are exposed to.You can't even turn a T.V. on to watch something wholesome for the entire family to enjoy. The good ole I love Lucy days are long gone. Do you see things getting any better? Can you watch your child 24/7? Surely you would agree noone can.And yes, loving and concerned parents are Very worried about there children,young adults and we do need the community to be more involved ..at this point do you see things getting better?
The Brock March 26, 2012 at 12:05 PM
and after you install the 72 camera's, we are going to have to pay someone to watch those camera's. Get the drugs off the streets of Northport and East Northport. It's getting horrible to drive down Larkfield Road and see drug transactions happening at the low-income apartments across from Friendly's and next to Meadowlark Cleaners. Something needs to be done!!!!!!! Put some camera's over there!!!!!
paul senzer March 27, 2012 at 04:43 PM
FYI March 28, 2012 at 07:15 PM
The cameras run on a closed loop, digitally recording continually and then can be reviewed as necessary. We have always had a security person after school hours in the security office at the high school. They can now monitor every camera in and on school property, report suspicious activities to the security vehicles that patrol the properties and notify the p.d. when necessary. Each camera can be zoomed, and directionally controlled via a joystick to identify individuals when necessary. It also may not be a bad idea to be able to document coming and goings of students and staff during the school day, Getting the drugs off the streets is a separate issue, no less important, but not falling into the realm of school security cameras.
Jane Lee May 08, 2012 at 02:46 AM
Do we really need a Security Supervisor who spends tax payers money putting up cameras, fences, gates. It seems to me our town is pretty safe. This money is being spent because the supervisor has nothing else to do. Why don't we have the principals of each school where the guards are placed be in charge of day security and night security back under the building and gounds dept. I heard the night security once under the building and grounds dept.


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