Board begins line-by-line budget review


Last Thursday, the North Shore Board of Education began reviewing Superintendent Dr. Peter Giarrizzo’s proposed budget line by line. The discussion centered on the district’s instructional components, including regular instruction, special education, occupational and continuing education, guidance and health services, athletics, and community services.

The instructional components of the budget, as described by Giarrizzo, are the programs that drive the district’s mission forward. “Each line of the budget ties directly back to the narratives written by the administrators,” he said.

The regular instruction section, up 1.5 percent from the previous school year, contains teachers’ salaries, school supplies, and staff development, which decreased $50,000 from the ’17-’18 actual budget.

This concerned trustee David Ludmar, who said the budget’s narrative had keyed in on the importance of staff development. “I’d be more comfortable with a slightly higher number at this particular line,” he said.

Superintendent for Instruction Robert Chlebicki explained that the money allocated for staff development is used to support curriculum work, and pay teachers outside of contract agreements for work conducted outside of the workday.

“This number has decreased over the years, but we’re sensitive to the fact that the community faces pressures, and we’re willing to tighten our belts to do what needs to be done,” Chlebicki said.

The trustees then reviewed line items for special education, which received an overall $200,000 decrease from ’17-’18. Giarrizzo said that although the section reflects a lower number than the district has allocated for the program in the past, he assured that the 400 plus special education students in the district would be “serviced appropriately.”

Library and audiovisual instruction decreased by over $4,000 from ’17-’18, while technology instruction is up $135,000. Giarrizzo said the district plans to invest $400,000 in Smart Bond funding from the state to strengthen the district’s cyber infrastructure. “This will ensure that the systems last for a longer time with no additional expense to the budget,” he said.

Occupational and continuing education is down $48,000 from ’17-18, as well as guidance, which received a reduction of $18,500.

Another section that received cuts was co-curricular and athletic items, specifically chaperoning for school sport and performance events. Trustee Joanna Commander voiced concern to the decreases as it pertained to student safety and supervision.

When it came time to review community services, trustees argued over whether or not to allocate an additional $5,000 for the North Shore Coalition Against Substance Abuse. At the Feb. 8 meeting, the board approved an agreement between the district and the coalition.

Trustee Marianne Russo said she wanted to see the programs developed by the coalition presented and implemented to the district before approving for greater funding.

Ludmar said that the board should continue to support the organization by keeping funding for NSCASA in the budget. “We have a [drug] problem in our district that is not adequately being addressed,” he said.

The next line by line budget review will be held on March 15 at 7:30 p.m. in the high school library. The trustees will discuss topics such as employee benefits, debt service, revenue and financing sources, and fund balance.