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Budget Talk Begins as RVC Board of Ed Discusses Reduction Options

Initial numbers discussed as board looks to lower budget before May 21 vote.

With the finalization of the upcoming school improvement bond vote in its rear view mirror, the Rockville Centre Board of Education met Tuesday night with the annual May budget vote in mind.

The tax levy limit for the 2013-14 school year is 3.57 percent or approximately a $3 million increase on the budget. Assistant Superintendent Robert Bartels said he expects revenues to increase by $500,000, which means that the budget increase must be limited to approximately $3.5 million to remain within the tax cap.

Currently, the budget increase sits at nearly $4.9 million, meaning that the board needs to trim more than $1.3 million.

A majority of the increases in the budget were related to salaries, which, according to district documents, are up to nearly $57.4 million -- a 2.72 percent increase over 2012-13.

The increase in salaries was also accompanied by an increase in benefits.

"Benefits, which is really the largest increase we've had, is close to a 13 percent increase [over the previous year]," Bartels said. "The reason for that is that the retirement system contributions continue to increase, as well as health insurance, worker's compensation, social security -- all of the other benefits continue to drive up the costs of the budget."

The board dicussed two groups of the budget Tuesday night: general support and instruction.

The budget for general support decreased $118,225 from the previous year. The budget for instruction, however, increased $1.8 million, a change of 3.11 percent.

According to district documents, the increases in instruction include the aforementioned contractual salaries, a potential International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Program, IB English 12, Math 6-8 textbooks, Achieve 3000, technology staffing and project costs, foster tuitions and a boys swim team.

A lengthy discussion was held about the IB Middle Years Program involving the board, Superintendent William Johnson, high school principal Carol Burris and middle school principal Shelagh McGinn.

The suggested IB Middle Years Program is a three-year program (grades 6-8) that teaches students to learn through different lenses, according to McGinn. Teachers would have be trained differently in order to run the program.

An IB coordinator would eventually be needed for the IB Middle Years Program.

"We've wanted to do this for a very long time and we keep pushing and trying," McGinn said. "... The bottom line is that this position is absolutely a ton of work for whoever's going to do it. Quite honestly, the thought of putting someone in is something that we know we have to do, we want to do. I would rather do it sooner than later."

If a part-time employee was brought on to run the program, the salary for the position would be $40,000, according to Bartels. However, a stipend was also being considered for the position instead of the part-time salary. Neither the salary nor the stipend were included in the 2013-14 budget.

"I think it's incumbent upon all of us to think as creatively as possible to avoid adding additional staff in these days," board vice president Mark Masin said.

The next Rockville Centre Board of Education meeting is scheduled for March 13 at 7:30 p.m.

Bobep34 February 27, 2013 at 07:56 PM
The IB for Middle School is totally unnecessary. What we need to spend education funds on would be for our students to be able to function in a day to day environment such as using a band or writing checks. With the currenteconomy as bad as it is, jobs are more important and having mor College educated Liberal Arts graduates just does not cut it anymore. The world is a changing environment now comapred to when we all graducated College and what is needed and for good jobs is more tech training such as HVAV, Electrical, Carpentry...jobs which will never be outsourced. Sorry, if that offends many but the reality of today's world is getting a well paid job, not higher education for the sake of higher education. Having that diploma on the wall will not in today's marketplace ensure a meaningful job. Computer progranning, tech trades is where it is.
penman February 27, 2013 at 10:10 PM
Just like I said, a 3.57% increase in our annual budget along with a 4.4% increase to pay back the bond and we are like at 8%???? Thats a big increase!!!! Does anyone trust these guys that the bond is only going to cost us $128 a year?
That RVC guy February 28, 2013 at 03:38 AM
So...benefits and salary have increased all along....as the schools deteriorated to point where Dr. Johnson feels it necessary to remind us that it is "Our kids in these schools."...and now we need a bond....to repair the schools. Are we morons here in RVC?
Bobep34 February 28, 2013 at 04:53 AM
It's not that we are morons but "Damn the Torpedos and full speed ahead" is the mission statement and motto of the BOE of Rockville Centre Schools and the lemmings follow whatever they preach since "it is for the good of the children". What a list of b/s. Jim Jones would be proud of the school board and the way they let us residents drink the kool aid.
opinion-ated February 28, 2013 at 01:30 PM
Why cant there be more choices? What about spending money on something that helps every student?? is every child expected to fit a certain mold? If this IB stuff is so great why aren't more districts using it?? Surely there are other modalities worth looking into . an Increased budget , Bond issue, added Cost of IB Exams..... Lets put the kids first before $$$$
rvcmother February 28, 2013 at 02:24 PM
Your right opion-ated. But its not that IB is a bad curriculum its that this district takes good curriculum and programs and then waters these programs down to fit every child into a mold. We are paying for tutors for our kids and its not because as they say of the rigorous curriculum its because we have an incoherent curriculum. And please, all you people who cite our national ranking at #22 just stop. Its a ginned up number. This boils down to how we are spending our money and not how much we are spending. The administration is spending our money to make themselves look successful so they can justify their high salaries. Its not about education. Its a business to them. Thats why students are banished off campus to the Greenhouse program. Thats why money is spent on administration bonuses and not on building maintenance. Thats why we need to vote no on the bond and send a message.
opinion-ated February 28, 2013 at 03:49 PM
Watered down and Ginned up.... Im not partaking in the madness. I suspect by sending the students tests where ever the heck they send them to be graded it takes responsibility off the school and still they profit. How many times can we vote No and still get dragged into the mess?
rvc_esq February 28, 2013 at 04:27 PM
@ opinion-ated. My sentiments exactly, madness. IB in the middle school, exorbitant bond to fix items that should have been maintained throughout the years. Over paid administrators that receive bonuses through-out the years. Million dollar sports complex that we will be paying off years after it's life expectancy, we are going to have to "BOND" the next 2 replacement fields while still paying off the first one. Using the student's safety at the high school to get rid of portables that have not been maintained to realize that there are elementary students in portables and our throw away kids in a commercial building on Sunrise Highway, that can't be "SAFE". How come we never hear about these students and their needs to be successful? Are they the kids who do not fit the mold of our golden administrators? I would love to see this facility. I'm sure it's disgusting. As for IB tests, parents are strapped into paying up to $500 for these test, students can't fail them they just receive a lower grade that's why or numbers look so good, it's call AIS, a$$ in seat. How many of our student graduate with the IB diploma, enough to cover the cost and how beneficial is it to them in college? Yet I'm bringing home less in my paycheck, my saving and investments are not profitable, LIRR commutation and subway fees are going up, it has to stop. Voting no will give a wake up call to the BOE and greedy Admin that we have had enough.
rvcmother February 28, 2013 at 09:06 PM
The myth about our #22 ranking in the nation. You are so right, rvc-esq. The district brags about how all students passed the IB exam. This is true only because it is literally impossible to fail the exam. A low grade of 1 for example just means that the student has only earned one point towards his degree. It is not a failed score. So it doesn't matter to the district or those who rate school districts how many passed the exam because there is no failing grade. What matters is how many students take the exam. Thats what brings up our rating so when the district introduces IB 12 like what they want to do they are just ensuring that next year they will have herded more students into taking the course thus bringing up their percentage of IB students. And since no one can fail the exam they water down the curriculum so that even the lowest scorers on the exam pass the course. Does this help prep our students for college? No it doesn't but by the time most parents realize this, they are out of the school district.
penman March 01, 2013 at 01:33 PM
A school tax increase of 8% next year between annual budget and bond. Whatever happened to the tax cap. Now you read that parents think IB is a waste of money so what does the district do? Double down, spend more money, and bring IB to the middle school. Dr. Johnson is fiddling while Rome burns.
shewithnoname March 02, 2013 at 02:51 AM
"The suggested IB Middle Years Program is a three-year program (grades 6-8) that teaches students to learn through different lenses, according to McGinn." You are being given misinformation. The IB MYP runs through Grade 10, culminating in a "personal project". The MYP itself is NOT a curriculum and there is no scholarly evidence proving that the MYP improves student academic achievement. SouthSide has been touted by IBO as one of the oldest IB schools in the U.S. I can't even imagine how many millions RVC has wasted on this "college-prep" programme which is definitely inferior to AP (college-level) in terms of college credit. Kick IB to the curb, don't expand it! www.truthaboutib.com
shewithnoname March 02, 2013 at 02:56 AM
A clarification regarding IB exam grades - first of all, IB fees have risen to $151 per student for registration and $104 per exam. They are graded on a scale of 1-7 with a '4' being considered passing. MOST U.S. universities do NOT award credit for IB SL (Standard Level) exams. The IB Diploma is awarded on a point basis of 24-45 and requires completion of CAS, TOK and the 4,000 word EE. It might behoove you folks to find out how many of your students spend their final two years of HS in IB and FAIL to get the IB Diploma. In Locust Valley, one out of 3 students who goes for the full IBDP, FAILS to attain it.
Frank DiGeorge March 02, 2013 at 01:19 PM
IB is not a good fit for most schools 1) IB will increase college costs for most students. 2) IB will not improve student performance. 3) IB's pedagogical method is one of constructivism. 4) IB is extremely expensive. 5) Many schools drop IB. Reasons: a) Cost, b) Lack of student improvement with IB, c) Less flexible than AP, d) Lack of participation in IB classes, e) Lack of college credit for IB. 6) Some people object to IB on religious grounds. 7) There is no record of a school ever being turned down for IB. 8) At the elementary level IB is required for all children in the school and the stated goal is to "develop attitudes," and to get students to "take action." Children of parents who object to the IB ideology are sometimes forced into IB. 9) IB is an NGO of UNESCO (UN)...
Frank DiGeorge March 02, 2013 at 01:24 PM
10) With IB schools give up some local control. 11) Some states and political parties are trying to eliminate IB. 12) The IB diploma required TOK class is composed entirely of questions like, "When can it be right to disobey the law? Can suicide bombers be right?" 13) AP is the best fit for gifted students. 14) IB is implemented in a deceitful way over and over throughout the United States. When someone questions IB an open and honest discussion is never allowed.
rvcmother March 04, 2013 at 02:56 AM
IB doesn't prepare our students for college. The culminating event...the extended essay which the students get something like 6 months to write doesn't in any way replicate the college experience. We need to rethink the curriculum not double down with more IB.
shewithnoname March 04, 2013 at 01:10 PM
rvcmother, Not only that, didn't I read that RVC forces ALL juniors and seniors to take IB HL English? Not for nothing, but I'm pretty sure that's a violation of student rights, especially for children with special needs.
TRULY AMAZED March 04, 2013 at 06:32 PM
IB in Middle School will then be followed by IB in Elementary School. When do we get a break? The old guard that fought against IB needs to re-organize and get them to stop. First they add on to a school building they were going to close (which happens to be the BOE President's home school) then a huge budget increase...Has the BOE no regard for the resident's? More people need to get out and voice their opinions live at BOE meetings. Silence is used as a license for the Administration to do whatever they please!
penman March 04, 2013 at 08:55 PM
KJ Horace, you are right. First they are closing Watson now they are expanding it. You're also right about the tax increase. The tax cap is a joke. Somehow a 2% tax cap becomes a 3.6% annual increased coupled with 4.4% bond increase puts us at 8% a year for a lot of years to come. Maybe another no vote will get these people to listen.
Margaret March 04, 2013 at 09:21 PM
@KJHorace-you are so right, especially the act of "silence", too long Administration has been doing what they want regardless of how it will impact the children and community. Using the "children" as bait for whatever they want, borders on abuse. We need to take back our town, eliminate special interest groups within the Village, School District and our PTA, who start out with good intentions and then gets sucked in by thinking that they are in, filling that void of being needed . The money spent is out of control and it's not going to benefit everyone. This Bond needs to be voted down, that will be the first step in recovering our community.
rvcmother March 05, 2013 at 04:33 PM
@kjhorace. I agree IB has become somewhat of an educational pyramid scheme with the reward being an impressive national ranking at the expense of true educational value for our children. They need to keep adding students in the seats to keep the ranking up irregardless of the students performance or ultimate readiness for college.
rvcmother March 05, 2013 at 09:29 PM
By the way, Covert's PTA meeting is at the high school tonight and I heard Watson and Riverside will be there too. Burris is probably throwing gargage around the rooms to make the school look even more run down. Then she'll give everybody the tour and tell them all how wonderful IB is and how we need you to vote because the nasty cheap people in this district don't care about kids. Scene this act before. It will be like watching a rerun on TV.
shewithnoname March 08, 2013 at 03:43 AM
So glad to see that people in RVC are waking up to the scam that is IB. As to those "national rankings", they are vapid, PR scams as well. Truth to power - IB MORATORIUM NOW!
shewithnoname March 08, 2013 at 03:48 AM
To RVC parents and taxpayers - If you are interested in establishing an IB active protest page on my website for your school district (no charge, my pleasure), please contact me at info@truthaboutib.com

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