Local School Boards to Vote on Western Suffolk BOCES Budget

Charges increase more than $5K for Commack residents.

School Board trustees from the 18 local school districts that use the services offered by will vote Thursday on the 2011-12 administrative budget of $11,078,473.

This is an increase of $665,299 over last year's total administrative budget of $10,413,174, or 6.3 percent.

The increase is almost entirely the result of a $675,363 increase in the cost of post-retirement benefits for employees, according to budget documents. That cost is projected to increase from $5,802,301 this year to $6,477,664 next.

The administrative budget covers executive salaries as well as equipment, supplies, materials, contracted services, internal services and benefits for both active and retired employees. 

The total proposed administrative charge to the 18 districts that use its services is $3,607,309, a $39,936 increase over 2010-11’s administrative charges of $3,566,373 or 0.65 percent.

Revenues will decrease $50,000, from $1,044,500 last year to $994,500 next year due to a $100,000 decrease in the amount of interest earned on deposits and a $50,000 increase in a 'miscellaneous' budget line.

The administrative budget total is distributed among the 18 districts based upon the three-year average of their 'resident weighted average daily attendance' or RWADA. Any change in the RWADA s based on the change in the percentage of a district’s student attendance compared to the other 17 districts.

A total of 3,249 students from all 18 districts used Western Suffolk BOCES services in 2010-11.

In 2010-11, 193 Commack students used BOCES services. Commack's share of administrative charges in the 2011-12 budget will increase $4,526, from $310,738 to $315,264. Its share of capital charges will increase $740, from $222,269 to $223,008, for an overall increase of $5,265.

In addition to the administrative budget, BOCES has a capital budget and a program budget, although the local school districts do not vote on these. The total 2011-12 proposed budget for all programs, administrative and capital costs is $148,389,523, or $12,426,190 more than last year's proposed budget of $135,963,333, a 9.13 percent increase. Of the proposed total 2011-12 budget, 3.1% will go to the administration portion on which local school boards vote; 4.4% will go to post-retirement benefits; and 2.1% will go to the capital budget. The balance, 90.4%, is determined by the programs and services that local school districts request.

"That total is a tentative figure," said Western Suffolk BOCES Public Information Officer Susan Smith, who added that tuition rates to districts increased just 2 percent. "It changes monthly based on how many students the districts really send through the doors. That can go up or down."

Last year, it went up before the year was over. That proposed $135,963,333 budget was almost $5 million less than the actual, adjusted budget of $140,848,413.

Smith said it's difficult to determine how many students are going to use the district's shared services and the number changes as the school year goes on.

"We go by past history primarily," Smith said. "At the end of April districts make a commitment to us so we have a basis to go by but they can decide later they have, for example, 10 more students that need our services and therefore our budget might have to go up. So the proposed budget does change throughout the year. But the budget the districts vote on is our best estimate of what we believe will happen."

According to Western Suffolk BOCES Superintendent Michael Mensch, BOCES was able to keep cost increases for programs down because collective bargaining units agreed to increased health insurance contributions for both active and new members. BOCES’ teachers also forfeited 1% of their contractual salary increase of 4.75 percent and he himself waived his contractual salary increase scheduled for July 1, 2011.

 “We were in an existing contract with the teachers," Mensch said. "It’s a New York State collective bargaining unit. You can't just take things away from them without bargaining. So, while the teachers didn't take a pay freeze, they did give back one percent and increased by $900 per teacher the amount they pay for health insurance. That was a good faith effort. That's a lot of money. And those kinds of concessions are going to continue, but it's hard to go to a freeze when you have an existing contract. They opened that contract up because they recognized that something had to be done."

Mensch said the district was able to keep the tuition increase to participating districts to 2 percent. "Last year the tuition increase was 2.94 percent, so this is significant," he said. 

The total capital charge to districts is $2,551,000, a zero increase over the 2010-11 budgets. The capital budget is based on the cost of renting facilities plus the cost of maintaining and making repairs to BOCES facilities. The local school boards do not vote on the capital budget. 

 BOCES — or Board of Cooperative Educational Services — is a public organization that was created by the New York State Legislature in 1948 to provide shared educational programs and services to school districts. Western Suffolk is one of 37 BOCES districts in the state. A Pdf copy of shared services available for 2011-12 is attached to this article.

In addition to the budget, local school boards will vote on two trustee candidates. Board President Peter Wunsch, who represents Commack, and Jeanette Santo of Amityville, who represents Amityville, are each up for reelection to three-year terms.

In addition to Wunsch and Santo, the board is made up of: Vice President Mildred Browne of Wyandanch, Sydney Finkelstein of Elwood, Ilene Herz of Half Hollow Hills, Salvatore Marinello of West Babylon and Maryann Zumpano of Smithtown.

The next Regular meeting of the Board of Western Suffolk BOCES will be held on Tuesday, May 10, 2011 at the Western Suffolk BOCES Conference Center, 31 Lee Avenue, Wheatley Heights, NY 11798. 

Western Suffolk BOCES staffing for 2010-11. Administrators and Supervisors (FTE) 60 Teaching Staff (FTE)
349 Teaching Assistants (FTE) 
7 Clerical (FTE)
110 Aides (FTE)
453 Physical/Occupational Therapists & Nurses (FTE) 
47 Adult Intstructors (part-time)
151 Food Services Staff (part-time)   22 Technical Staff (FTE)
 9 Custodial/ Maintenance (FTE)   61  Other
24 Total: 1,293
chefcristo April 28, 2011 at 10:41 AM


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