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Seaford's Allowable Tax Cap Increase Changes Slightly

District learns that a 1.44 percent tax levy increase will be allowed under new state legislation two weeks after finding out it would be limited to just a .68 percent rise.

A recent decision in the New York State Budget Office is giving the Seaford School District a slight boost as they prepare to try and craft a budget within the new 2 percent tax cap rule passed by Albany lawmakers last summer.

Seaford Superintendent of Schools Brian Conboy said during his administrative report at Thursday night’s Board of Education meeting that the state is now allowing districts to use actual spending figures rather than a budgeted amount when determining a capital levy.  As a result of this decision, which came about at a request from the Roslyn School District, Seaford will be permitted to increase its tax levy 1.44 percent for the 2012/13 school year. Two weeks ago, Seaford had learned that a complex formula built within the tax cap law when it comes to building aid its tax levy hike to just .68 percent.

“It’s still not great… but it’s better than .68 [percent],” said Conboy during his report at Thursday’s meeting held at Seaford Harbor School.

After learning that Seaford may be limited to only raising its tax levy .68 percent, Conboy contacted Assemblyman David G. McDonough, R-North Merrick, and State Sen. Charles Fuschillo, R-Merrick, informing them of the unique budget circumstances the district is facing. Conboy has since spoken to state education leaders and was informed that Seaford’s situation is “a budget anomaly”. He said a group has formed in Albany to review specific budget anomalies related to the tax cap.

“We don’t know if we can give any optimism to something in our situation that might change but we’re hopeful that smart people will take a look at our numbers and figure out that we sort of have a strange situation that most other districts aren’t dealing with,” Conboy said.

Seaford had to post its tax-cap related figures for the 2012/13 school year by March 1 but Conboy pointed out that the numbers can be edited if further guidance is provided by the state.

Seaford has been operating on a contingency budget this year after voters rejected proposed spending plansand . The district began the process of piecing together its budget proposal during Thursday’s meeting with presentations on the issue of technology spending, transportation and facilities. The school board is scheduled to hold weekly meetings throughout March exploring avenues the district can save in different departments.

Annmarie Lynch, co-president of Save Seaford Sports, a group  last summer with the aim of raising the $141,000 needed to restore the Seaford Middle School winter and spring athletic seasons after they were cut from the budget, is hopeful that voters will approve this year’s spending plan.

"I know our taxes are high but voting no does not change anything, it only hurts the kids,” Lynch said. "Voting no is hurting our school district making Seaford an undesirable place to live. We are only hurting ourselves by voting no."

Lorraine DeVita March 02, 2012 at 02:04 PM
one example- I find this rather funny myself but it is an example- After school mentor for drama stipend is (approx) 4k AND the accompanist (piano player) is also 4 k- IRONICALLy it is the same person - so that individual is basically doubl dipping - We should offer the following the stipend is 3k and the individual needs to do BOTH - no other option offered. we save $$ - a small amount but if we look at these types of things we will find there are cost savings across the board we can take without eliminating some services.. Also 33k last year for uniforms.?? would they rather PLAY or wear spiffy new uniforms? THESE are the types of things we need to address. and yes all these little 1k here 5k there do add up and can help balance a budget. Band camp if the cost is only 4 k(which i somehow disbelieve) then divide that amount between the members it is a CAMP let the paticipants pay. they can fund raise or write a personal check.
Wayne Smith March 02, 2012 at 02:13 PM
Only at a school board meeting could you witness visible signs of relief at the prospect of a larger tax increase. In percentage terms the difference in this revised allowable tax levy is actually not all that slight - it's more than double. Of course in actual terms, the difference is not all that huge, but all of this misses a couple of key points: First, under the previous assumption that taxes would have to be held to an increase of .68%, the district was going to be left with a gap in excess of $800K. With that amount of a deficit, and unable to increase taxes further, it at least seemed a little more likely that maybe there would be some needed dialogue with the teachers' union about restructuring the current labor agreement. Admittedly, that was probably a stretch, but whatever chances there may have been for such a development would now appear to be off the table. Hope I'm wrong about this. Second, after a cumulative 14% increase in school taxes over the last two years, what taxpayers really need at this point is a tax FREEZE or even a reduction, just so they can try to catch up in the midst of a local economy that continues to wreck household budgets. I'll admit it: tax reductions are rare in nature, but there are theories supporting the idea that they can occur within an expanded universe of possible outcomes. Of course, this is a fantasy: A tax freeze or reduction will never happen, but we ought to at least be asking, "Why not?"
Lorraine DeVita March 02, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Wayne, lol Please reductions, in your dreams and mine and many others, - Nice try! HOWEVER If this districts leaders were SMART they would PROCEED with the .68% cap, which at this time we dont even know what the tax levy would be That would send a significant message to the Majority of the taxpayers - WE HEAR you!
Wayne Smith March 02, 2012 at 03:06 PM
Yeah, I know. Some middle-aged men have fantasies that are Rated X; my fantasies involve taxes. Guess that tells you how boring my life is. But I think there's a serious point here, which is something I've raised before: school boards by law have the authority to raise taxes. But in my observation they very often suffer from a tunnel vision in which decisions about taxes rest almost entirely on how much the schools need to operate - at least in their present configuration - as opposed to what the community or local economy can reasonably tolerate. Changing that orienation would amount to a huge cultural shift - to say nothing of what that would mean for how districts operate. But now, of course, i really am engaging in a fantasy.
Tired Man March 02, 2012 at 04:43 PM
This is all nuts. N U T S . They shouldbe working on a ZERO increase budget and slash the heck out of the one they have. The budget will fail. And fail twice. Ms. Lynch you better get ready to raise your funds again. How embarassing. Teachers will get them raises- JUST WATCH. Remember "Its for the kids". Please.
james March 02, 2012 at 04:45 PM
if u are driving on merrick rd in wantagh and u sneeze your in massapequa!! this is a small town looking for alot of money and it doesnt make any sense!!!! i have two kids that are gonna go through these schools just like i did as long as i can still afford to live here within the next few years.. in 4 years my tax bill went through the roof on my house and my kids havent stepped foot in these schools yet
Lorraine DeVita March 02, 2012 at 04:59 PM
What ever contracts are and coming for review, the Districts policy tat this time should be- This is what we can offer - unfortunately its LESS then what you are currently receiving , however please feel free to look elsewhere if you dont or cant t take what we have to offer or cant understand why at this time we need to do this. Thats it, then lay the paperwork on the table and walk out the door. Let them weigth the option of employment at a lower salary vs unemplyment indefinitely...Harsh i know but it is a needed undertaking. there should be NO raises at ALL across the board from janitorial to Administrative to Administrators. NONE ZIPPO NADA ..Everyone needs to learn HOW to DO MORE WITH LESS..
Just About Done March 02, 2012 at 05:00 PM
what a relief ! my taxes will go up higher
Ms.V March 02, 2012 at 07:46 PM
Perhaps it is easier to place the blame on the taxpayers for cutting programs in our schools-perhaps the administrators (which there are to many of) should start to look at themselves and how much they really care about the children which) comes first their salaries and their negotiations with the teachers-who ever heard a high school that graduates less then four/five hundred students a year needs two assistant principals and a school psychologist in each school (perhaps mandated I Am not sure but will find out) also social worker for each schoo) there are only 2600 students using these schools) I am a resident for forty years and have never seen the likes of this-I think maybe a small district like this maybe should blend with our nearby schools to decrease the amount of taxes we are paying and perhaps some staff along with building maintainance never mind having a new music buiding. a member of my family came out of the old music program and that is earning his living today with music-so a new buidling does not make the musician-that is up to the student- not the community. We the taxpayers are always being used -- again maybe a vote for redistricting would be better Ms. V
Lorraine DeVita March 03, 2012 at 02:44 AM
Ms. V- Yes we need to consolidate and merge with "like" districts Shared services is an excellent way to begin- UNFORTUNATELY you have some people some very VOCAL people who would rather eat dirt and die before they comptemplate even the thought of a shared service program. Seaford and wantagh would be a good match a good fit for some of these shared service - however the PEOPLE who would be incharge of this are th very same people whose jobs may be eliminated so dont hold your breath.. but i agree it IS the way to go.. and we should start looking at it ESPECIALLY since BOTH districts have declining enrollment
Full-Time Mom March 03, 2012 at 01:11 PM
We are on austerity, all buildings have programs that have been cut, and we have a less than stellar reputation. Why would Wantagh, or any district, want to be associated with us in ANY way? Not feasible, can't blame them.
Lorraine DeVita March 03, 2012 at 01:41 PM
Merging two districts is different then a shared services application- With shared services BOTH districts would stay separate entities, have their own Board of trustees BUt they would share administrative/administrators- Ie Finance/Accounting - IT- facilitites - transportation, Special needs , Social works, phsycologists Guidance - Librarians, and some cross over in other departments- etc. THIs would be a HUGE savings for BOTH districts - Their " Identities" would remain separate but the "back of the house" people would be shared. the Problem with this is that the people who wold be making this decisions would be in fact putting their jobs on the line . In order for this to even be considered a MAJORTY of BOTH communites would need to petition BOTH boards to undertake a feasibility study by an independent party to see what the cost savings would be for EACH district..If the INDEPENDENT study found significant cost savings for both then an action plan would need to be developed and again an INDEPENDENT party would need to assess and evaluate EACH person in their current position and recommend which one would be the best CANDIDATE, while simultaneously seeking outside candidates to fill these positions- In business we call this would be a consolidation of Executive Managers - Bascially one group of Executives responsible for several unique and stand alone business units within a corporate entity that has diverse products.
Lorraine DeVita March 03, 2012 at 01:47 PM
Macys inc.- Is BOTH Macys and Bloomingdales- Totaly separate concepts YET under one corporate umbrella- Thats what in essence a shared service concept would be for Wantagh and Seaford One corporate office - two separate companies
Full-Time Mom March 04, 2012 at 11:27 AM
With that said, again, not feasible for any time soon. The process sounds long and arduous between petitioning 2 boards, paying for studies, assessing, etc. and it might not even fly. We need something done NOW, sooner rather than later.
Chris Wendt March 05, 2012 at 04:44 PM
Another term for this in the business world is "synergy", or capturing the synergies (as in, but not limited to a merger or acquisition). One relatively common area for capturing synergies not resulting from a merger is code-sharing and co-branding agreements among airlines, as between American and Aer Lingus, or among Delta and its several regional partners which remain independent but fly under a common "brand". When looking for synergies, and especially when capturing synergies (to actually take advantage of the opportunities to reduce cost), the low-hanging fruit includes most the what you describe as "back of house" or "back office" functions, like accounting, etc. Certainly we can not expect the people whose jobs are included among the synergies to be willing proponents of this kind of necessary--and overdue--change.
Wayne Smith March 05, 2012 at 05:42 PM
I would certainly agree that finding synergies - whether that's in a school or business - is quite often something that meets all kinds of resistance among those who want to maintain the status quo. But just to extend the reference to the business world a little further, this is why companies have boards of directors. They exist to represent the interests of the owners, or shareholders, particularly when those interests don't necessarily align with management. It's not a perfect comparison but schools have boards as well, and just like the board of directors of a business they exist to represent "owners" - that would be you, me and anybody else who pays taxes. I've never been on a school board, but I have had the harrowing experience of having to defend business decisions to an aggressive board of directors. It's not a lot of fun, but often what comes out of that kind of crucible is the impetus to take on tough initiatives that really do need to be implemented.
Lorraine DeVita March 05, 2012 at 05:59 PM
Gentlemen, What is needed is a business plan- similiar to what one would present to investors or a bank when you start a new or expand an existing business. Detailed outline of where the synergies are, what the anticipated cost savings would be for both parties as well advantages and DISadvantages or additonal expenses. Pros and cons basically - this needs to be presented to both communites at a joint meeting which can be held in either of the HS's...... It is VERY feasible .... Once the community has the information then they can petition the respective boards to go further and develop a more indepth action plan with mor intricate DETAILS.. Again this is NOt hard, wouldnt take more then on average a few months .. The key is getting the financials and HR information from the districts in a timely fashion. which FOILS should cover. oh yeah and the BUY in from both the Residents both ,BOARDS, and possibly NYSED BOCES..There may even be grant money available to do this..
Lorraine DeVita March 05, 2012 at 06:05 PM
and ofcourse the different unions would need to be contacted as well as the legal groups that represent both the districts and the employees. Labor laws need to be reviewed also..
ap March 07, 2012 at 01:57 PM
Just a correction on your above post. As per the 2011-2012 contingency budget only $9000.00 was included in the budget for uniforms. Please try and post accurate information. False information is just adding to the problems in this school district.
Lorraine DeVita March 07, 2012 at 10:39 PM
Truly i WAs mistaken- ?As per the FISCAL year END from LAST years 2010-2011 we spent $27,810.00 on UNFOIRMS we ANTICIPATED spending 39,433. on uniforms- So tell me WHAT THE HELL ARE SPENDING SO MUCH ON UNiFORMS FOR AND FOR WHO???? THE NBA, THE NFL, THE MLB? BUY THEIR OWN IF THEY WANT THEIR NAME ON! 2855-504-00-0000 ATHLETICS UNIFORMS 30,000 : 39,433 : 27,810
Lorraine DeVita March 07, 2012 at 10:42 PM
AND LET THEM WASH the darn uniforms THEMSELVES!
Lorraine DeVita March 08, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Band camp , 4k- (suppoedly, uniforms 9k (supposedly) $13k on a contingency budget that COULD have been targeted for EDUCAtiONAL purposes.. What other BS items were in our contingency budget that was hidden in between the lines for special interests that have NOTHING to do with EDUCATION?
Lorraine DeVita March 08, 2012 at 03:32 PM
and no i dont think BAND cAMP is for educational purposes...
Chris Wendt March 08, 2012 at 06:27 PM
Wayn and Lorraine, good thoughts. Full-time mom is right about one thing, any kind of consolidation is both long and arduous, meaning, requiring both work and workers to do the work required. But full-time mom cannot be let off the hook for attempting to pass up this long-term, real solution in favor of some unspecified expedient. Yes, Seaford needs help now. But, until you sell that school, there won't be the kind of real help Seaford needs, now or in the immediate future. It is too early to start the ground work for consolidation. Let's allow the budgeting process to run its course between now and May or June (depending on how the voting goes in both districts). Once the both budgets are settled and the tax levies filed with the County, then we can start the process, We did manage to obtain petitions for both boards in the past (led by me, in Wantagh, and by Christine Marzigliano in Seaford). Those petitions did result in a joint meeting of both boards in Wantagh, and a joint resolution being passed and sent to the state asking NYSED to initiate a study. The state determined that an all-out "merger" would not work, at that time. We are NOT talking about a meger, here, this time around. Interest, ideas, suggestions, offers of help or participation on THIS topic may be sent to chriswendt117@gmail.com
Lorraine DeVita March 13, 2012 at 01:13 PM
Not having kids in school for AGES and both going to private hs;s i would like to know what do the guidance couselors do, how many do we have, what are their responsibilities, salary levels and could this also be a shared service application. I am assuming most guidnace couselors are seen by appointment with the student and or parent again this may be incorrect but wouldnt everyone be better served if we shared this service with wantagh, the same with special needs department contract personnel, couselors, as well as school phsycologists,and the general population of substitute teachers etc. I dont know if these emplyees are under utilized or not and if anyone has information regarding their responsibilities i would greatly appreciate the insight .. would this be a place to promote a shared service or am i under estimating the repsonsibilities of these individuals and programs? Also the Athletic directors .. Seaford has a Part time director(which i dont grasp the concept of a already retired pension receiving indivual fulfulling that job) wouldnt it be better served to halve the cost of one full time person between Seaford and wantagh?
Lorraine DeVita March 13, 2012 at 01:24 PM
Let me expand of the special needs portion: i am NOT and under no circumstances recommending DOWNSIZING in any way shape or form the the special needs staffing. i am asking about the individuals who are only contract personnel not teachers or aids .... Seaford needs to improve GREATLY in this department and i am inquiring about avenues that would give these students more support while exploring a shared services concept.
Lorraine DeVita March 13, 2012 at 01:28 PM
Also substitute teachers need to be more closly monitored for the quality of service they are providing. watching movies is not teaching.. we could hire a movie theater attendant for 10 dollars an hour to do that.
Chris Wendt March 14, 2012 at 09:32 AM
No fair. Unless you were there, and knew the subject/lesson plan of the day. Also, movie theater attendants collect tickets at the door for the salary you mentioned, here. Movie theater projectionists make between $20 and $50 per hour, but do not have to corral the audience or answer questions about the film.
Lorraine DeVita March 14, 2012 at 12:35 PM
Chris, when the Students themselves complain repeatedly then yes it IS fair and yes it is prevelant.... and typically the "sub" doesnt run the projector its a student! Perhaps we should pay the "student" projectionist and ask the sub to pay 13.95 for a ticket to see the show!
Chris Wendt March 14, 2012 at 11:41 PM
Respectfully, this sounds like an issue for the parents of the complaining student(s) to address with the building principal. He/she can do more about correcting this than any of us on here could.

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