Superintendent Arnold Goldstein said that the draft therefore complies with state regulations, in addition to being frugal. “The current proposal aligns with the tax cap while maintaining the integrity of our instructional program, which has been our ongoing goal,” he said.
To maintain the program and meet the shortfall, Schissler said, the district could use various reserve funds. His spending plan for the next academic year calls for the North Bellmore to use more than $3.55 million from a pool of reserve and savings funds amounting to $5 million.
Board of Education trustees, however, expressed concerns about the ramifications of relying on reserve funding for future budgets.
Board President JoAnn DeLauter asked district officials how long North Bellmore could continue to fill budgetary gaps with reserves before it is forced to raise taxes to meet its needs.
“When all this additional money runs out, if we don’t get aid from the state, that’s a sizeable tax hike,” she said.
Schissler said that the district is slated to receive nearly $11 million in state aid in next year’s budget, which is a slight increase over the current year. But, without a sizable aid increase, he said that the district would be forced to reduce services or increase the property-tax levy within three years.
Still, administrators agreed that North Bellmore is in “better shape” than many districts across Long Island and the state when it comes to maintaining reserves and balancing the budget. “While many districts are making significant cuts that ultimately do impact instruction and kids, our proposed budget reflects our commitment to maintaining programs, services and class size,” Goldstein said.
Schissler said that all of the major reductions in spending in the draft budget are non-instructional. The largest cuts will be in substitute teaching, computer hardware and in-district transportation, each exceeding $100,000.
The next public budget workshop will be at Newbridge Road Elementary School on Thursday, March 19, at 7 p.m.