By Samuel Glasser
The Great Neck Board of Education unveiled the school budget for the coming academic year, proposing a 4.1 percent increase overall, with a property tax increase of 3.1 percent. The proposed budget was presented to the public at the regular monthly board meeting on March 9.
“The financial pressures on the district are huge,” said Board Member Barbara Berkowitz.
John T. Powell, assistant superintendent for business gave the overall picture. Among the budgetary challenges are the continued price increases for goods and services, limited growth in operating revenue, and an increasing reliance on reserve funds to meet operating expenditures.
Overlaying these factors are the Nassau County reassessment project and federal and state educational and financial mandates, he said.
Nevertheless, Powell said the budget comes in below the tax levy limit and the proposed increase in spending is below the current level of inflation, with no cuts in programs.
The preliminary budget for the 2022-2023 school year calls for expenditures of $262.6 million, up 4.1 percent from the current year’s $252.2 million.
The proposed tax levy is $223.8 million, a 3.1 percent increase over the current $217.1 million. Taxes would cover 85.2 percent of spending. The district’s fund balance and reserves would account for 5.6 percent; state aid, 4.2 percent; and miscellaneous sources of income, 5 percent.
The budget projects that state aid would increase by nearly 9.3 percent to just under $11 million, although the state budget is not due to be completed until April 1, so that could change.
Enrollment for 2022-2023 is projected at 6,612 students, down one and a quarter percent from the 6,696 students attending Great Neck schools this year.
The district will conduct four more public budget discussions: March 19 and 30, April 12 and May 10 before the vote on May 17.
Prior to the budget discussion, the board recognized the outstanding achievement of five students from the Village School, the district’s alternative high school program. Board President Rebecca Sassouni called it “the jewel in the crown” of the Great Neck School District.
Village School principal Stephen Goldberg said the school, with its enrollment of 50 students, is recognized by the state as a “regular education school.”
He explained that it is not designated for special education students or for those with disciplinary problems. The students, who are all college-bound, are those who are generally overwhelmed by the large traditional district high schools, Great Neck North and Great Neck South, Goldberg said.
“Every alternative school has a certain bent to it,” Goldberg noted. The Village School is aimed at “the academically capable students.”
The students who received Certificates of Commendation for “contributing to the quality of life at the school are Andrew Allen, most improved student; Han-ah Kang, community service; Leah Schader, quintessential student; Tova Shafran, rookie of the year; and Sigal Weitzman, academic performance.