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Mount Sinai budget meets cap, cuts some sports

School systems bear the brunt, not parents, researchers

School systems bear the brunt, not parents, researchers find Credit: HealthDay

Mount Sinai residents will consider a lower school budget in the June 19 revote that falls within the district's tax-cap limit, but also cuts some sports, such as varsity bowling and gymnastics at the high school, school officials said Tuesday.

The revised 2012-13 budget, at $54,629,115, is $735,000 less than the previous budget, which voters rejected during school elections on May 15.

"It is a very viable, good plan that focuses on the core of our academic program, our athletics and our arts," said Board of Education president Robert Sweeney at a public hearing Tuesday night at Mount Sinai Middle School.

Residents also spoke at the hearing, unhappy with some of the proposed cuts.

"The brunt of this new budget is being borne by our high school students. . . . And there is nothing we can do," said Annmarie Reed, a parent of two high school students.

Resident Ron Van Dett, a parent of two children aged 9 and 12, lamented the loss of the gymnastics and golf teams. He said that the revised budget "took college opportunities away from kids who need it the most."

The original $55.3 million spending plan carried a 4.76 percent tax hike, well over the district's capped limit of 2.13 percent, and therefore required approval by a 60 percent supermajority. It won 1,263 "yes" votes and 1,147 "no" votes, a 52.4 percent majority that fell short.

Mount Sinai was one of the seven Long Island districts that tried but failed to override the state's new tax-cap limits.

The revised budget falls at the tax cap and will need only a simple majority to pass. The proposed tax increase is just at the cap of 2.13 percent, resulting in an average monthly increase of $13.40 for property owners.

District officials had considered cutting middle school sports, but instead looked at student involvement and the cost of some sports and clubs. Varsity gymnastics, bowling, swimming and junior varsity boys golf and girls tennis may be cut.

In addition, under-subscribed clubs, such as the literary magazine and forensics at the high school, and some middle school clubs may be trimmed.

BOCES programs were also cut. District officials said Mount Sinai has lost more than $2.8 million in state aid over the last four years and more than $1.2 million in assessment-generated dollars.

The budget that was originally proposed only increased 0.8 percent after the teachers association's new contract saved $1.3 million next year and other nonprogram spending cuts were made.

The board adopted the revised budget, which is a 0.53 percent decrease from the current budget, on May 31.

If the revised budget fails, the district would be forced to further reduce the tax levy, which would result in a much more limited program, officials said.

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