Roslyn Schools eye 7.8% increase in tech spending

Roslyn Schools eye 7.8% increase in tech spending
Roslyn Schools Chief Technology Officer Jason Lopez

The Roslyn Schools technology department last Thursday proposed an increase in spending of over $220,000 for the 2017-18 school year – a 7.8 percent increase in the department’s budget.

If approved, the increase in spending on technology would far exceed the 2.64 percent increase for the budget overall, which is set to reach $107.8 million next year.

The proposed increase in technology costs is due primarily to the initiation of a five-year effort to digitize all student records, said Jason Lopez, the chief technology officer for Roslyn Schools.

“It’s a massive project,” Board of Education President Meryl Waxman Ben-Levy said.

The district has to pay staff to manually scan the thousands of paper records as well as dispose of them in an environmentally friendly manner, Lopez said.

Roslyn Schools Superintendent Allison Brown said the initiative is part of a districtwide effort to eliminate paper documents not only from in-house record keeping but also from notices sent to students and parents. 

The district intends to improve its website and reproduce it as a smart phone and tablet app in order to make it more accessible, Lopez said.

“Accessibility is a civil right,” Lopez said. “You can’t just provide it when asked; you have to make it available for everybody.”

In addition to the technology department, the transportation and special education departments presented to the school board last Thursday a total of over $6.5 million in proposed spending for the 2017-18 school year.

Excluding salaries and equipment, the proposed transportation budget is $1,163,036, which amounts to a decrease of $131,595 from the current budget.

The decrease is caused by a more modest projection of fuel costs as well as the completion of an effort to put tire chains on school buses, said David Shoob, the supervisor of transportation at Roslyn Schools. 

The proposed special education budget is $2,589,271, which comprises a slight decrease of $12,000 from current spending.

The district instructs 283 students with special needs, which encompasses 9.06 percent of Roslyn students.

Seventeen of the 283 students pay tuition in order to come to Roslyn from outside the district.

“We provide the aid that students need,” said Joe Dragone, the assistant superintendent for business. “It’s more than outweighed by the student tuition set by the state.”

“We haven’t had to have any additional teachers or services,” said Barbara Schwartz, the director of special education. “It’s been pretty consistent.”

At a Board of Education meeting on March 9, the athletics and facilities departments will present their proposed 2017-18 budgets, and at a meeting on March 23 the enrollment and personnel departments will share theirs.

The overall proposed budget of $107.8 million would increase the tax levy by about 0.64 percent, meaning homeowners would pay about $90 a year more in property taxes on average, said Barry Edelson, a district spokesman.

Dragone will present on the proposed levy at a board of education meeting on April 6.

On April 20, the board will vote on whether to adopt the budget.

On May 16, the budget will be up for a vote that will take place at Roslyn High School from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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