BY MADELINE ARMSTRONG
Manhasset School Superintendent Gaurav Passi presented a $104.8 million preliminary budget for the 2022-23 school year at the Board of Education meeting on March 15.
The presentation first focused on how last year’s budget provided a foundation for a continued move forward, focusing on the steps that were taken to improve the Manhasset school district.
The proposed 2022-23 budget is $104,835,668. This is $2,515,648 more than the current budget, a 2.46% increase. The proposed tax levy increase is 2.38%, with $94,341,648 proposed as the 2022-2023 tax levy. According to Passi, the district will apply $724,067 to reduce the tax levy.
There are a number of conditions impacting this year’s budget increase. This includes contractual obligations to the Manhasset Education Association, Manhasset Educational Support Personnel Association and Manhasset Administrators and Supervisors Association.
Additionally, the Teacher Retirement System has increased by 5%. However, the Employee Retirement System has decreased by 4.4%, partially making up for the TRS increase. Passi also pointed out that health insurance premiums increased by 12% in 2022, which has had a significant impact on the budget.
Other increases that have affected the budget are contractual compensation and instructional technology. According to Passi, 52% of the budget and 28% of the budget increase is attributable to employee compensation. Instructional technology has a proposed increase of $257,295 due to cybersecurity enhancements, continuation of the technology equipment replacement schedule, maintenance of the district’s one-to-one Chromebook initiative and technician support.
Contract transportation and special education have also increased the preliminary budget. Contract transportation is projected to increase by $321,736, assuming a state-mandated inflation factor of 4.4% and the addition of runs to new out-of-district schools for students with disabilities. The special education expenses are set to increase by $683,310. Pupil personnel services have also projected a $104,612 increase.
Lastly, enhanced student opportunities are a factor in the budget increase due to the addition of three new courses for the 2022-23 school year. These are Music Production/SongWriting, Broadcast Journalism III and Intermediate Algebra.
The public did not have any comments about the preliminary budget.
Also discussed in the meeting was the district’s transition back from the pandemic. Pat Aitken, president of the Manhasset Board of Education, said that schools were to transition to “pre-pandemic practices” on Monday, March 28. This includes all students being allowed to use cafeterias, phasing out teaching via Zoom and the elimination of contact tracing.
According to Aitken, if a student tests positive for COVID-19, classroom-level notifications will be sent out. The district also intends to continue with its cleaning protocols.