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Seaford School Board Adopts 2012/13 Budget Proposal

Proposed $57.8 million spending plan to be decided by voters on May 17.

Following a long arduous process determining how much to cut and what was an appropriate number to add to reserves, the Seaford Board of Education adopted its budget proposal late Tuesday night that will be put before voters May 15.

The $57.8 million spending plan represents a 5.4 percent increase over the district’s current contingency budget. If approved the tax levy, which is the percent of the budget that must be raised in taxes to meet expenses, would jump 2.5 percent. The district was permitted an allowable tax levy increase of 2.93 percent under a new tax cap law approved by the State Legislature last year but the school board opted to go with a lower number to have a better chance of approving the budget.  

“The most important that we have to make sure that we do is to get a passed budget this year,” said Seaford Superintendent of Schools Brian Conboy at the beginning of Tuesday’s meeting held at . “We have to get out to the public, get out to Seaford and make sure that people understand the necessity for that passed budget.”

Following the budget adoption, district officials had to came up with $335,669 in cuts in order to reach the 2.5 percent tax levy limit. Some of these cuts include one full-time teaching position and reductions to health insurance costs, natural gas and mailings. Athletic Director Tom Condon was also asked to trim an additional $10,000 from his operating budget and a previously planned part-time $14,000 clerical position new hire to assist with transportation was scrapped. The district is also achieving savings from the retirement of an art teacher.

The budget proposal approved by the school board is also aimed at replenishing the district’s reserves. Under the plan approved Tuesday, the percentage of the district’s undesignated reserves would more than double from .6 percent to 1.3 percent. Seaford Board of Education president Brian Fagan stressed that upping the district’s reserves is crucial in terms of avoiding future credit downgrades from ratings agencies like Moody’s and to be more strongly position for future budgeting.

“You want to have reserves to help you on  a rainy day,” Fagan said.

The only program addition to the budget is $88,000 toward technology aimed at directly benefiting students. This includes purchasing new computers at and and is the first part of a five-year plan recommended by the Advisory Committee for Technology.

All cuts for this year’s contingency budget remain including two seasons of middle school sports. The budget proposal includes funding for the spring middle school sports season meaning the fall and winter would need to privately funded. This past year, the fall season was funded and the Save Seaford Sports Committee was able to restore the winter season but  by around $40,000 of funding the spring sports. 

Fagan said he approached the United Teachers of Seaford to see if they would be willing to offer concessions that would avoid some district cuts but the union leadership declined.

The annual Seaford budget hearing is scheduled for May 3 at Seaford High School starting at 7:30 p.m.

Lorraine DeVita April 10, 2012 at 10:54 AM
Tom, disdain for teacher pensions? no i dont have a disdain for their pensions, I have stated numerous times i have concerns economicaly for the continuance of the manner in which they are funded. I will state for the record, that I think that by adamntly refusing to to contribute a "fair share" for the ever rising healthcosts is absurd. , I dont "harp" and havent on teachers "vacations" , that is the nature of the beast so to speak. However now that you brought it up, I do find it ironic that teachers complain that salary levels are lower then their "privately employed indivuals in other industries" when IF you do a per hour breakdown, teachers aint doing too bad for the amount of time on the job daily and annually. The Fact is you DO basically work only half a year (181 days) while receiving an ANNUAL salary.and the fact also remains that you have MORE of an opportunity to be gainfully employed in a second occupation to supplement income if you choose to. Your brother in laws "family trip , company cars , proft sharing etc" are a NOT the norm, and while HE enjoys the fruits of HIS labors so do you in different contexts. I am sure his job is not tenured, I am sure his job retention is based on performance reviews and evaluations not only HIS perfomance but for the people who work FOR him, to be cont'd
Lorraine DeVita April 10, 2012 at 11:14 AM
I am sure he pays a greater portion for health care, I am sure his pension is not funded the same as yours, as for profit sharing it is arbitrary, IF the company doesnt do well then HE doesnt get to SHARE. He is not guaranteed incremental step raises annually DO teachers have the same contrainsts on their earnings. His salary AND his job are tied to PERFORMANCE is yours?As a manager and not a union employee he is an AT WILL employee, which means if tomorrow they dont like the color of his tie the company he works for can say sorry charlie adios amigo. "A very wise man that I had the privilege of calling a colleague once said to me that "everyone THINKS that they KNOW the other man's job." your very wise friend was right . Tom, there ARE changes coming , and while not a "day of reckoning" it is a realization that "business as usual" is not and has not worked on so many levels and that the beast called the union has hampered any substantive changes that are needed to insure quality education is affordbale. Being 25th in the WORLD in MATH is alarming. In my mind while ofcourse not the ONLY factor the Union has contributed to the "dumbing down of education" in this country tieing the hands of both the EDUCATORS and the citizens many who recognize and want to make real changes and reform but cant because we need to play "simon sez" with the union.and the union is always Simon, The Union is the "beast " we need to control...NOT the individual Teachers.
Lorraine DeVita April 10, 2012 at 11:29 AM
Tom, perhaps if some listened to the "Business VISIONARIES", who ultimately EMPLOY your work product then maybe just maybe education wouldnt be in the sorry state of affairs it is in today on so many different levels. The consumer is Telling the manufacturer that their product is flawed repeatedly and the manufacturer telling the consumer, your not utilizing the product correctly, we know what we are doing, WE are the manufacturer..Then the governemnt steps in a issues a recall .. Education is being RECALLED becaseu it is flawed it is not working and the united states once a leader in education has dropped below MANyother countries BECAUSE we failed to adjust, reform and make much needed changes to insure competetive quality .. and yes i lay partial blame at the foot of the teachers unions.
Tom April 10, 2012 at 11:42 AM
Nonetheless, I believe that people make choices in life. Some choose the higher salary and assume a greater degree of risk relative to job security. Others, police officers, city firefighters, teachers, etc., have elected to enter a field with a relative degree of Job security (and a guaranteed pension) but having a contractual cap on their salary. Chris, I more than understand the dues that school districts and taxpayers are now paying for the fact that the stock market tanked in post- 2001 America. I live these facts everyday as both a taxpayer and working professional. Agreed, we need pension reform and even more importantly, we need a RADICAL change in the manner in which public schools are financed. I have never believed that property taxes are the answer. Perhaps some kind of progressive income tax would be a more appropriate way of accomplishing the goal of financing education (even though a fair number of the wealthiest folk in our community have cash incomes). Any thoughts about this? Isn't the current system of public school finance grossly inequitable to senior citizens and others who are on fixed incomes?
Tom April 10, 2012 at 12:00 PM
In any event, I think , Lorraine, that you seriously, underestimate the power of your words. You obviously have something of a following on Patch and probably in the community. Thus, while you state that you are not telling people to unilaterally vote "no" for the Seaford budget (which you would certainly be entitled to do) , the somewhat passive-aggressive tone of your prose is heard loud and clear. If you want to defeat the budget, then by all means please say so. Others in the community are obviously reading your words and have had their minds (already) made up for them. Let's talk about that which is good for kids, and not adults. While the proposed budget is not perfect (nobody said that it was) a morbid preoccupation with its shortcomings is all that our community needs to defeat it. Let us not cut off our noses to spite our faces. The next few years will be rough one financially. Hey, my kids have graduated , but I think that those who haven't deserve the same level of service (or better) than mine received. So now that the ink has dried on the document , let's not focus on what should be a club instead of a class or whether the AD could cut another $1,000 from this or that budget line. And please let's not punish the kids if the UTS decides (what are they waiting for?) not to pony up as they should.
Lorraine DeVita April 10, 2012 at 01:33 PM
Tom, you are underestimating the intelligence and concerns of this community and OVER estimating the power of my words. I have always and will encourage people to VOTE based on their own personal needs , wants and beliefs. MY sole goal is to get people to think .. Think about whats important ot them.., think about utilizing their voice, to ask questions. I personally havent decided which way i am going to vote, there are pros and cons to passing or failing this budget. . Ideally THIS board and this administration NEED to realize that this community has effectively changed hands so to speak. Parents today are CONCERNED not only about taxes but about QUALITY. Many are new and dont give a rats ass about "tradition", they want a solid sound well rounded education for their kids at a price that wont drive them back to the boros or to bankruptcy court. THOSE are the facts. They WANT someone to be held accountable for the mess we are in, but more importantnly they want SOMEONE to say THESE are our educational goals, these are the corrective steps we are going to employ to get there. These are the measures we are putting into place to insure that THIS is most cost effective means is to get there., This is what we expect from our staff, these are the measures we are putting in place to insure that they meet or exceed our expectations. and most importantly EACH CHILD regardless of ability K-12 IS IMPORTANT..EVERY CHILD MATTERS> not just some. cont'd
Lorraine DeVita April 10, 2012 at 02:05 PM
You dont pick & choose based on your personal perception of "tradition" How about starting a NEW tradition. Quality education for ALL. I sat there while the board embarrasingly ASKED what line items can we par down? When they suggested EACH of the 500 line items in the budget take a lousy 100 dollar hit .. and were told NO! you cant do that by a horrified Ast., sup. business ,omg an accounting nightmare !! We leave the HS athletic budget in tack save for a forced 10k cut BUT we cut TECHNOLOGY 3 times that much? We KEEP an AD when his responsibilties could EASILY be shared amongst the coaching staff( as is done in other districts) BUT we have the probability of having 28 kids in first grade classrooms? We continue to FUND band camp (i know i am harping )when the band members could easily fund raise to pay for it? We pay (per the contract) for coaches to go to improvement seminars, but we dont have portable defibulators ? LOOK at the atheltic budget .. JUST look and tell me WHAt signals are we sending these kids? We glorify and LAUD the student Athlete, which in and of itself is fine IF you equally LAUD the STUDENT who ISNT an athlete but is doing outstanding in the classroom or a particular subject matter. THINK before you establish a pecking order of importance & accomplishments which in turn establishes & enforces the pecking order of peer groups. The signals this admin and board are sending are mixed and confusing. ALL I want people to do is THINK..
Lorraine DeVita April 10, 2012 at 02:11 PM
and that includes the Board and the Adminsitration- Think about how the decisions THEY MAKE impact this community ...now and in the future..
Lorraine DeVita April 10, 2012 at 02:43 PM
Tom, do you not think it wold have been a better more proactive, responsible move if this Admin. called a meeting of ALL MS parents in the HS auditiorium, in January, explain to them the direction this board and amdinistration is taking is to do away with sports, on the MS level. but these are the alternatives we are putting inplace going forward. To also have at that meeting the local sports organizations so they could discuss the options availbale for the kids? Also wouldnt have been smarter IF the board explained the REASON they are SPECIFICALLY cutting the MS sport program .TELL people why, what are you giving them in return IF anything and how is this going to help improve their childs overall education? Are they trading Ms sports for new technology - Ipads ? also ask parents to be involved in formulating a lower cost alternative .. working WITH the PE deparmtent as a committee. Dont you THINK the parents and the kids deserve the respect to be informed ? Dont you think by involving the parents in devising some altenatives they would have been less likely to go balistic..and by doing so early enough to leave parents with an option of deciding where they child attends school? giving them something to buy in to rather just having the rug pulled out from under them.?
Jim April 10, 2012 at 02:45 PM
Chris, You are correct that the reason many municipalities are in financial straits is because the pension funds did not meet expectations due to a weak rate of return. Municipalities are required to make up the difference. You are incorrect about the reverse situation. When the market was outperforming estimates, many municipalities used the opportunity to reduce or suspend pension contributions. Although taxpayers never received a refund, municipalities used the monies elsewhere to fund other projects. All need to realize the financial mess that the school district in is a result of prior boards failing to realize that markets change and they needed to plan accordingly. They did not. They acted like drunken sailors on shore leave.
Chris Wendt April 10, 2012 at 05:35 PM
Right there, the case AGAINST local control is made. Don't blame "the school district" for one of many financial messes around the state. Blame lack of effective leadership and clear guidance from the State Education Department and BOCES about how and to what extent school boards should have been protecting themselves, their taxpayers, and their students from financial calamity. And did I mention "local control" that great oxymoron which allowed each school board to do (or not to do) as the pleased with contracts, and organization charts, and layers upon layers of administrators, and let's not talk (to Wantagh over here, or to Seaford over there, or to Plainedge up the road) about consolidating administrative and non-teaching functions? This is Seaford's second recent turn in the austrity barrel, but Wantagh and Plainedge have had their turns in that barrel, and may again one day. This is the big down side of local control. Every district doing their own thing, as opposed to the private sector, where concepts like "best practices", synergy, optimization and efficiency...flourish, and pay-off.
Tom April 10, 2012 at 09:24 PM
Chris, I wish that I had a better answer for you than this, however I don't. The problem is that people complain ad complain, but when push comes to shove, don't want the consolidation. The issue recently emerged in the district I which I am employed as a central office administrator. Let me state from the get go that I am in favor of consolidation on the many different levels that it could potentially serve our communities and students. To get back to my story, when the Board of Education announced that it was interested in undertaking a consolidation study (in 2011) a significant portion of the community shot it down. Hell, we can't even get local K-12 communities to approve restructuring of elementary programs where it has been demonstrated that doing so would result in both educational and economic efficiencies . The bottom line is that people don't want consolidation in any form (not enough people). They would rather just close a school!
Chris Wendt April 10, 2012 at 11:27 PM
That's when push comes to shove...the inevitable decision to close a neighborhood school, or even a middle school. There's a lot of pushing and shoving going on around LI.
Lorraine DeVita April 11, 2012 at 02:08 AM
Total Consolidation is not going to happen voluntarily, unless mandated by Albany, for several reasons with FEAR and lack of knowledge being the top two. Admin consolidation is probably the easiest and least painful way to go as it would allow each community to retain their separate identities while maximizing effiiencies and reducing costs. People need to the see tangible and tactile examples of success in similar communities, they can then envision how this would be applicable in their particular environment. Just "telling" people this is going to be a cost savings leaves A LOT open to interpretation and specualtion. There needs to be a clear step by step process transparently explained so the community feels confortable buying into the change. The best recommendation I could make would to be hire an outside firm to do an indepth study and then present both the pros and cons along with a final recommendation on whether or not to proceed to all parties involved. If there was a time to proceed with this it would be now as MORE people then not are ready and open to options that would help the effiicency of educational adminstration while addresssing and improving the finanical crisis many districts are facing...
Lorraine DeVita April 11, 2012 at 11:55 AM
Tom, Perhaps I come from a different environment, both professionaly and personally. In the work environment I had to look at all the variables to insure the products, solutions or services I was presenting and recommending to my clients were the best ones to suit their needs both immediately and long term. Every t crossed every i dotted, contingencies considered and planned for, options explored. Action plans developed for implementation, clear concise step by step transparent processes developed complete with time lines. I expect professionaly that budget development includes the consideration of the ALL angles, all altenatives and all consequences as well as all the benefits. When presenting the product service or solution to my client i would never talk techie to them because they would GLAZE over, having no clue what I was talking about,rather then anograms i would give analogies, I spoke about solutions, benefits, I addressed their concerns in easy to understand terminology geared towards their level knowledge base. Everythign was geared towards them completely understanding that the investment they were considering was clearly defined for them so they could make an informed decision on whether to proceed or not. I also had to anticipate & be prepared to present alternative options for when they would say "too much money" give me something that addresses all my needs but costs less.
Lorraine DeVita April 11, 2012 at 12:21 PM
ALL options, alternatives carefuly and thoroughly considered, planned & prepared before I even walked in the door for the intitial presentation. I expect the Board and administration to do the same. I expect full disclosure full transparency, explainations, documentation, I dont what platitudes, threats of doom and gloom, of children suffering untold diasters, I want FACTS, clearly and consicely presented in easy to understand terminology. I want to be able to make an informed decision. "For the kids" "dont Punish" "dont take it out on the kids" are over used and veiled threats, and quite frankly very insulting to all. A solid sound fiscally and educationaly responsible budget is "FOR THE KIDS" . A budget that is carefuly crafted, thoroughly prepared , transparently presented which addresses the educational needs of the TOTAL student population in conjunction with the fiscal needs of the community is "for the kids" and is more likely to pass then a budget that is delivered with veiled threats,perceived hidden agendas, confusing and conflicting data while arrogantly being presented in a manner that leaves more questions then it has answers. It is NOT ideal nor condusive for success to leave it up to the community to delve through all the perceived administrative hocus pocus, slight of hand to try to grasp the truth behind the numbers .. The people want all the information ,transparently & thoroughly presented including the good the bad and the ugly..
Tom April 11, 2012 at 03:25 PM
A good idea Lorraine. But, in my experience, quite unlikely to happen.
Lorraine DeVita April 11, 2012 at 03:58 PM
Pls explain - why?
Chris Wendt April 11, 2012 at 04:21 PM
Poison Pill scenario, in my opinion. Think about it.
Lorraine DeVita April 11, 2012 at 04:58 PM
ok i am going to play obtuse(lol) "they" dont want for fear of : A) having to scramble to get the "house' in order and insure the "unkosher" becomes kosher REAL fast? B) losing jobs C) losing control of the fifedom? D) losing credibility or E) a combination of ALL of the above? A Ricky Arnez/Lucille Ball Classic Quote comes to mind that covers all of the above scenarios "Lucy you got some splaining to do"
Chris Wendt April 11, 2012 at 05:52 PM
I was more referring to the private sector. If a company (a real company) does not want to be taken over, they devise a "poison pill" designed to make them appear unattractive to unwelcomed suitors. Heavy long-term debt structure, deficit spending (fixed cost structure exceeds current revenues), declining net assets, continuing operations do not generate free cash flow, hence very little or no cash on the balance sheet. So, instead of falling prey to a hostile takeover, a corporation (a real corporation) in such a state can await...its own funeral? ...an offer to relocate to Arkansas? ...or, a federal (state) bailout?
Tom April 11, 2012 at 07:51 PM
Lorraine, let me explain. I say not likely to happen because most people want the convenience and ability to be serviced by their own school district. It isn't that I don't think it to be a good idea, but the teachers (who are a relatively vocal and powerful group) don't want it either. Additionally, districts , such as Seaford don't have the cash right now to conduct such a study.
Lorraine DeVita April 12, 2012 at 01:22 AM
Tom - i could jump all over the teacher comment but i wont. I will let your own comment stand. least i take away from its thought provoking effectiveness However, I will address the funding issue. I would hope that if approached with the concept our local legislators would and could find a few spare $$ in Albany, we could possibly even qualify for a grant from either Albany or the private sector. As to the being able to be "serviced by their own district" ,I am going to let that one just hang out there in the wind also..interesting thought and concept .. foreign but interesting..
Lorraine DeVita April 12, 2012 at 01:27 AM
Well Chris currently we dont have to DEVISE a poison pill ......lol We sorta took the whole bottle a few years ago and the effects are still lingering ....
Lorraine DeVita April 12, 2012 at 01:44 AM
Tom, All of your statements are extremly valid and point to one major problem The dissemination of information in a timely and transparent manner by the both the Board and the Administration. As to the Board NOT being aware of a communities sentiments , concerns & divisions , Tom lets be honest here.. Thats a crock.. If they DONT know then they are either deaf dumb or blind.. or totaly so OUT OF TOUCH that they have become ineffective in their responsibilities. They listen to who, what and when they want.. Its like teenagers who are notoriously infamous for "selective" hearing---- when they dont want to hear you they wont ..
Tom April 12, 2012 at 02:08 AM
Last year we asked our local legislators in my district of employment is there might not be money to either incentivize consolidation or study consolidation and we were told ( sadly) no. About 4 month ago, there was a weak effort to encourage consolidation at the high school level, but that discussion seems to have died as well. The other problem is that while I have not studied the matter myself, I am not certain that a Seaford - Plainedge effort, for example, would accomplish much more than saving a Superintendent's salary ($225,000 at most). Transportation costs are currently outrageous. We might be able to close one elementary school, but other than what I have already stated, I doubt that we would achieve the "economies of scale" that many people would anticipate. Again, I have not formally studied the matter, but I think that we would need to accomplish consolidation on a much grander scale for it to be worth the effort and aggravation of doing so. We might try consolidation of certain business functions such as payroll,benefits administration, school lunch programs or transportation. Most districts are already conducting cooperative bidding for supplies. The real problem is that, as you know, the true cost-drivers are salaried employees. I really wonder how the community would initially react/respond to to (even) the prospect of a consolidation?
Tom April 12, 2012 at 02:12 AM
Let's face it, there are currently several Nassau County school districts (such as the several K-5 districts) so small that they shouldn't even exist as constituted, but try telling that to the parents!
Lorraine DeVita April 12, 2012 at 03:12 AM
Tom, Total consolidation would probaly NOT work on so many different levels here. However by consolidating Administration would possibly be a bigger savings then I think you realize. One superintendent One Asst Sup of Business Operations Facilities Transportation Director of Technology Tech support Basically a Central Administration for two separate entities. Yhe logistics would ofcourse have to be studied in depth but the analogy I could offer is" Macys and Bloomindales Two separate entities under one corporate umbrella Chanel and Fekaki Two separate entities under one corporate umbrella There are MULTIPLE corporations with totaly separate business units totaly separate union locals totaly separate identities that are run by one corp office. It does work effectively in a business environment. the principals of business would still apply consolidate the back office functions while keeping each UNIT separate retaining their own identities. But again an indepth study and cost analysis needs to be underaken to insure that the savings justify the merger of administrative functions. AND Thats exactly what it would be a "merger" of administrative functions.
Lorraine DeVita April 12, 2012 at 12:07 PM
To Andrew and the Patch Editorial staff: Perhaps a Patch Poll to see if there is community interest in CONSOLIDATING Administrative/Administrators functions ONLY to reduce costs.
John April 18, 2012 at 04:37 PM
The problem here starts at the top of the food chain. It began with Markle who clearly begana chain of events that this current administration is unable handle. The boards decision to promote inexperienced individuals to the highest adminstrative positions was another mistake. Believe it or not there are districts that are in much better shape because they have much better leaders. Without out change beginning at the top Seaford will continue to be the model for failure in NYS.

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