Manhasset schools continued record of tight budgeting last year, Board of Education says

Manhasset schools continued record of tight budgeting last year, Board of Education says
Peer responders Cereria Low (left) and Darien Schwartz stand to be recognized at Thursday's Board of Education meeting. (Photo by Teri West)

The Manhasset Board of Education remained tight with spending throughout the 2017-2018 school year, Rosemary Johnson, the deputy superintendent for business and finance, said while presenting the audit at Thursday’s Board of Education meeting.

It underspent the budget by about $1.3 million, a number consistent with the average of the last five years, she said.

Most of the spending is devoted to personnel costs, Johnson said.

Since the 2009-2010 school year, the budget has increased by about $12.8 million dollars, 60 percent of which has been devoted to benefits, she said.

“That’s astounding to me,” Johnson said. “When you look at things like retention numbers in the context of what they were back in ‘10 and what they are now or the Medicare reimbursement number, which has more than doubled during the period, or the cost of healthcare, which everyone is feeling, that’s what it brings to the bottom line. And we have very aggressive employee contribution rates.”

The school lunch fund decreased by $506,956 because of cafeteria renovations and cafeteria staff wage increases in response to a labor shortage, she said.

Marianne E. VanDuyne of RS Abrams & Co., which provided auditing services, emphasized how well budgeted the district was during the last school year.

“You were stellar this year,” VanDuyne said. “Thank you for all the work you do, and it’s great to audit a school district that is so clean and strong.”

At the beginning of the meeting, the school board recognized the Peer Responders Mentor Program for being named the New York State English Council’s 2018 Program of Excellence.

The program pairs up high school “peer responders” with middle school students. Manhasset Secondary School English teacher Michael Koondel serves as the programs advisor.

Peer responders tutor, but they also support their younger peers as they navigate the transitions they experience in middle school.

Koondel and his peer responders attended Thursday’s Board of Education meeting to celebrate their award.

Board President Regina Rule, tearing up, said, “What you create every day by helping your fellow students is making our little world here a better place.”

In honor of “School Board Recognition Week,” the board viewed a video featuring young students commenting on the its work and thanking its members, despite varying levels of understanding of what the board is responsible for.

“I’d like to thank the school board for whatever they’ve done this year,” one student said, sparking laughter throughout the room.

The board also noted that Manhasset Secondary School would be getting a new scoreboard, a gift from the Manhasset Booster Club, Manhasset PAL Baseball and Indians Rock Community Foundation.

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