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School Budget Committee Tells District Cuts to Benefits Needed

Community members give Board of Education feedback on 2012-13 spending plan.


The Long Beach Board of Education devoted a work session on capital projects to the proposed 2012-13 budget, which turned into a three-hour meeting when the Citizen’s Budget Advisory Committee giving its report on the $122.1 million spending plan.

Lilly Newman, a member of the advisory committee of volunteers and school officials who study the new budget, proposed a reassessment of benefits such as workers compensation and medical and dental, as well as several other areas the committee believes the school district has over compensated their employees. 

“It’s the big gorilla in the room,” Newman said. “No one wants to talk about it, and it’s the second largest expense category that we have.”

According to Newman, the Long Beach School Board allocated $30 million to benefits in the proposed budget, including a $4 million increase in health insurance over two years, half a million more than the projected increase for the total budget ($3.5 million).

The committee compared health insurance costs with similarly sized neighboring school districts and discovered that Rockville Centre is spending $4.9 million less than Long Beach, while Oceanside is spending $3.3 million less.

“Long Beach is doing something wrong,” Newman said. “Health insurance makes up almost half of all the other fringe benefits combined.” 

She added that Long Beach also pays roughly $600,000 more than Rockville Centre and close to $300,000 more than Oceanside in workers compensation benefits.

“Today, when every dollar counts, these are vast differences we really have to think about,” Newman said. “We don’t want to see our employers lose their jobs and we don’t want to see our students lose programs.”

The board thanked the committee for their report, although they didn’t directly comment on its specifics after its presentation.

Meanwhile, Long Beach teachers, parents and community members had time to research the district’s proposal after it was first unveiled to a packed auditorium at the Long Beach Library on March 13, and many voiced their concerns with the some of the suggested cuts.

Several people asked the board to reconsider proposed cuts in various departments, including music, guidance and special education, as well as a number of other areas, including teachers’ assistants.

"With our Ivy [League] push in high school, and our increased need to succeed in four-year colleges, is it wise to cut back on this department,” one commenter asked about a proposal to make cuts in the guidance department.  

Dr. Dennis Ryan agreed with those who were most concerned about reductions in guidance, and he asked the board to look into making cuts to clubs in order to save reductions to first grade teaching assistant positions.

“We’re not going to put music against athletics, we’re not going to put elementary against middle [school], and middle against high school because we are one unit,” Ryan said.

While Ryan and other board members agreed that they were concerned with some of Superintendent David Weiss’s proposed cuts, he commended the first year superintendent for the budget package.

“It’s a sort of democratic budget,” Ryan said to Weiss. “You've picked on every area of the district, and you haven't shown any discrimination and I know that’s a difficult thing to do.” 

 

concerned April 06, 2012 at 12:34 AM
thats a good question. who is responsible for the construction and financial oversight
richard April 06, 2012 at 02:56 PM
If they are wasting money on the construction project, where else are they wasting our tax dollars? Certainly, this financial waste should go towards educational programs.
Lido resident May 14, 2012 at 07:22 PM
Voting no on the budget is short sighted and more importantly does not accomplish anything except destroy property value. The austerity budget is about the same as the regular budget. All it does is further ruin the reputation of the long beach schools. The vast majority of the real costs in the system (teacher salaries and benefits) are determined not by the annual budget but by the contracts teacher sign with the district. As for the capital expenditures, the are also outside of the budget -- they were voted on an approved by the residents of the district (myself included). Those expenditures are required to be made. However, if you want to make any real difference in spending you need to change the board and put people in place that will make real fiscal changes -- and these can only really be made in contracts with the teachers. This is exactly what happened in lawrence where they have managed to meaningfully cut spending. Of course the downside is they have destroyed the district and killed property values and have done thier best to ensure they are not responsible for educating the next generation (but screw them no one educated us). But hey they did save $500 a year (pre-tax).
Eddie May 14, 2012 at 08:30 PM
LIDO, what's your house worth now? About $325,000? That's half of what it was worth before Tangney and Guma raised school spending 45%. What destroys property values are $13,000 taxes rising $1,500 per year. Voting NO will reduce your tax increase. Home values in Lawrence have increased 15% since they reeled in school spending and now exceed the values in Long Beach. They voted NO, NO and NO in Lawrence and their school grades and their home values have excelled past ours. Oh yea, and their taxes have gone down. A NO vote means lower taxes. And vote Tangney and Guma to the curb too...
Neutron May 14, 2012 at 10:03 PM
What you are essentially proposing is just throw in the towel without a fight. A message need to be sent to the politicians that the residents are fed up and are not willing to take it anymore. Voting out the incumbants and voting down the budget sends a clear message. Maybe Long Beach needs some Charter Schools. They tend to perform as well or better than traditional public schools for lower costs.

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