Fund balance should support social-emotional learning wing, ed board says

Fund balance should support social-emotional learning wing, ed board says
Superintendent of Schools Vincent Butera and Board President Regina Rule. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

By Ethan Marshall

Manhasset Deputy Superintendent of Business and Finance Rosemary Johnson said the school district could afford to install a social-emotional learning wing in Manhasset Secondary School during last Thursday’s board meeting due to the district’s fund balance.

The wing is just one of many projects that the board plans to finalize at its March 14 meeting before putting them up for public approval. The others include adding a second security vestibule and an elevator to the secondary school, reconfiguring the multi-purpose room stage and several second-floor rooms into more classroom space at Munsey Park Elementary School and adding a permanent security vestibule, renovating the locker rooms and reconstruction and reconfiguration of the loading dock at Shelter Rock Elementary School.

The board has spent the school year developing and narrowing down the list to determine how it wants to spend its approximately $4.8 million in capital reserve funds.

There had been some uncertainty as to whether or not there would be enough funds available to incorporate the social-emotional learning wing in the secondary school, a space that would enable students to access guidance counselors, the school psychologist and social workers.

The project would cost $1.376 million. The board transferred money from its fund balance to make up the difference needed to fund the project.

The only project previously up for consideration that will no longer be considered by the board during its March 14 meeting is the installation of a technology wing and innovation lab in the secondary school. The $840,000 project has been postponed.

The board decided to prioritize the social-emotional learning wing over the tech wing in order to better help the students, Johnson said at last week’s meeting in the district office. Superintendent Vincent Butera had said earlier it was intended to be a comfortable space that would de-stigmatize accessing resources the school provides.

“With limited funds, the focus now is on the social and emotional well-being of students at all grade levels,” Johnson said.

While the tech wing will not be considered during the March 14 board meeting, Johnson still hopes to add it in the near future.

“Hopefully, the tech wing can follow, when funding and board and voter approval are obtained,” she said.

All seven projects total $5.83 million.

The school board has earned $291,352 in revenues and transfers in excess of the budget this school year. Additionally, it had over $1.71 million in unspent appropriations. When the totals were combined into the unassigned fund balance available for assignment, it added up to just over $2.002 million.

The board designated $595,120 to the 2019-20 tax levy. Additionally, $502,053 was transferred to the 2010 capital reserve. Finally, $905,000 was transferred to the capital projects fund in order to make up the difference.

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