Manhasset School District proposes staff cuts to mitigate financial pressures

Manhasset School District proposes staff cuts to mitigate financial pressures
The Manhasset Union Free School District is planning for staffing cuts amid rising costs putting financial pressures on the district's budget next year. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Amid rising costs, the Manhasset Union Free School District is planning to make staffing cuts to balance its budget .

The expenses that are pressuring this budget, Superintendent Gaurav Passi said Thursday night at the board of education meeting, include healthcare increases for active and retired employees – which he said have double-digit percentage increases – and increased pension costs with few retirements to balance this.

Compensation and benefits amount to 75% of the district’s 2024-2025 budget, with 5% attributed to special education services and the remaining 20% for everything else. In the current budget, compensation and benefits only amount to 56% of expenses.

The district is budgeting for an expected drop in state aid, including a $629,000, or 20.7%, drop in its foundation aid from last year, Passi said.

The district has called for the reinstatement of its foundation aid. Passi said the current budget is based on the reinstatement, but in the event it does not occur it would be accommodated by use of the fund balance.

“This reduction, which was unanticipated, coupled with significant increases in pension costs and retiree healthcare costs and very few retirements to offset any of these challenges, creates significant pressure on the ‘24-’25 budget,” Passi said.

The superintendent said to manage the impact of the costs for compensation and benefits, the district will be reducing its staff.

The staff reduction constitutes the removal of 14.45 full-time equivalent positions.

“So as you know, any reduction in staff is difficult as these reductions reflect real people who have real jobs,” Passi said. “With 75% of the budget made up of staffing costs, we had to make some difficult decisions to achieve a balanced budget.”

The district proposed that 4.1 teachers be removed, with decisions based on student enrollment in certain subject areas.

Efficiencies in staffing that are proposed include 3.5 teachers on special assignments returning to classrooms.

While staffing reductions will take place, the district is proposing the addition of 3 elementary teachers and 2.5 secondary teachers to lower class sizes. The return of the teachers on special assignments would be aiding the addition of classroom teachers, Passi said.

Teacher assistants will also be reduced within the proposal.

Elementary co-teaching assistants will be reduced to 14 full-time employees, with the current budget allowing for 24.

Elementary computer lab and library teaching assistants will be removed entirely, with two full-time employments currently existing for both. The one full-time employment for the secondary library teaching assistant will also be removed.

Secondary school departmental teaching assistants will be reduced from five full-time employees to four.

Passi said the reductions and full removals of these positions “sadden” the district.

The staff reduction constitutes a decrease of $806,842 in expenses or a drop of 0.75% of the budget increase. This also leads to a drop in the related benefits with a drop in health insurance expenses of $251,000.

In total, the staff reduction omitted a little over $1 million in the proposed budget’s expenses.

The district’s budget is focused on eight goals: supporting its priority areas, preserving strong academic programs, expanding secondary school academic offerings, maintaining and upgrading aging infrastructure, enhancing instructional technologies, bolstering security, maintaining and enhancing social and emotional wellness support and staying within the tax cap.

The district proposed a $111,286,207 budget, which is an increase of $3,553,203, or 3.3%, from the current budget.

The district’s tax cap is set at a 2.68% increase.

The allowable tax growth factor for the district, which is the maximum amount that can be added to the tax levy increase, is set at 0.36%, which Passi said equates to $360,000. Last year it was set at 0.75%.

Property taxes are proposed to fund 90% of the next budget. The remainder of the budget will be funded 5% by state aid, 1% by the assigned fund balance and 4% by other revenues.

While budgets weigh heavy on the board of education’s meeting Thursday night, it’s not the only thing going on in the district.

A new team name is also in the works for the district, with a collection of options proposed by the district’s committee dedicated to the new mascot.

The pursuit of a new mascot began after the state’s Board of Regents outlawed schools from using Native Americans as mascots, which included Manhasset.

Students voted on the options before the break in February, suggesting additional ones as well, and now the committee is reviewing the results before presenting them to the community for a vote, Passi said.

The Manhasset Board of Education will convene again on March on March 21.

No posts to display


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here