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School Board Approves $192 Million Budget

The increase of 1.86 percent is the lowest in 21 years.

The Syosset school board adopted a $192,353,912 million budget Thursday night, which calls for an increase of 1.86 percent from last year – the lowest in 21 years.

“We don’t want to make changes to any program in the district,” Superintendent Carole Hankin said in front of a packed crowd at . “A child coming in would get the same excellent education."

The administration said that a no vote would only hurt taxpayers. They explained that a failed budget would mean the district would have to go to a contingency budget, and the accepted by teachers and the administration would not stand.   

“We developed the budget as the same number that the state has the contingency," Hankin said. "Which means a no vote – a contingency vote – would have the budget go up. That is because at that time, the $3.3 million contract freeze our employees have voluntarily agreed to on their contacts, will go back in the budget."

Hankin said that this means a failed budget would actually increase peoples taxes, and warned of what a failed budget could mean for the schools. 

"In a case that's probably unheard of, a failed budget increases the taxes," Hankin said. "Because once you put that $3.3 million in, we're already in austerity. So that increases our budget by that amount, the 1.86 percent increase would become 3.61, and we would have to at that point look at program changes and personnel changes."

The budget approved was not the same as the hard copy handed out to residents Thursday night. The document handed out states that the total budget figure comes in at $192,561,637 – about $210,000 more than the figure the administration gave.

The district was able to save money at the last minute through savings in special education, according to Hankin. But she declined to go into specific details after the meeting. Special ed amounts to $25.734 million of the budget. 

The administration also said Syosset schools were hit with a new MTA tax – which Hankin called “unfair” during the meeting – as well as a new sewer tax. It was unclear exactly how much each new tax would cost the district.

While other school boards such as  and have made property tax increase numbers available, no such information was presented to residents at Thursday’s meeting.

The crowd was supportive of Hankin and the administration during the meeting, applauding after a mention was made of the salary freeze agreement, and after a promotional video of the school district was played.

A full copy of the budget will be made available on the district website on April 18.  The budget hearing will take place Monday, May 9 at 8 p.m. at South Woods. The takes place on May 17 from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. at Syosset elementary schools.

Bev Macuk April 16, 2011 at 01:39 PM
What planet do you live on Michael P? I have not seen any no. l ranking for Syosset public education in a published evaluation? In the newspaper I see students from other districts winning intellectual scholarships-I seem to have missed Syosset ever being mentioned. Please advise how you learned of "first rate education second to none in the country"-possibly from Hawkins? How long do we wait for the "change that takes time? Who is going to implement it? I wonder if you realize that Hawkins is probably exempt from the salary cap-it only applies to school with 6,500 or fewer students-marvellous how she just squeaks by.
Howie April 16, 2011 at 02:05 PM
Michael --it would appear that YOU are a soundbite that the Board has flooded the community with!!
Ed Lewis April 16, 2011 at 02:17 PM
Well said as I tried to, better articulated.
Ed Lewis April 16, 2011 at 02:33 PM
Money is but one element to the key to a great education. Quality is based on the total element to best optimize, utilize and administrate those funds. I don't buy "you get what you pay for. " You are saying that we don't spend enough money? Why our high school is ranked #136 in the nation according to the recent study, while we spend a lot more per child than so many others on this list above us. WHY IS THAT? http://www.antonnews.com/syossetjerichotribune/news/8657-jericho-32-syosset-142-on-newsweeks-americas-best-high-schools-list.html
Howie April 16, 2011 at 02:56 PM
"You get get what you pay for." is getting to be the most overused and ill applied term especially in this particular situation. If I hear it one more time I think my head will explode. Hankin and her bunch have her cult of followers so thoroughly brainwashed that they just seem to plod along like the zombies in Night of he Living Dead regurgitating her propaganda word for word line for line. What these zombies truly need to realize is that she has distorted "You get what you pay for" to suit her own selfish needs and wants. So know the axiom that is in place is "There's a sucker born every minute.". But the zombies are still too blind too see how badly they are being taken advantage of and its costing us all. And Hankin is laughing all the way to the Hamptons. WAKE UP ZOMBIES!!!
michael petruzillo April 16, 2011 at 03:30 PM
One I m not a soundbite for the boeard. I live in Syosset and I have sent Three daughter thru the school system. My youngest is a junior in the High School. I m sure that the Board is aware of changes that should be made. Running a school district is an evolutionary process not a revolutionary one.Dr Hankins has done an excellent job. I personally have seen results from different high schools and other districts. Syosset is far above anything that is around. If a child does not take adavntage of what is offered or work hard enough to receive a " intellectual scholarship" it is not the fault of the administration or teachers. In the 18years I have lived in the district I have never heard one of my kids say a teacher wouldn t stay to help when they were struggling with something. Over the years I have written several complaint letters to Dr Hankins. Each one was addressed in a timely and quick fashion. This Administration and Board is quite in tune to the community and its needs. Rankings published in magazines are a rather limited way of accessing performance of the school. The district has a decaded staff that the Syosset community should fully stand behind and support. Compensation should be left to the Board to decided period. They have a much better understanding what is reasonable. There are no over paid teachers in Syosset. With the excemption of one administrative job which is not Dr Hankins there are not any over paid administrators in my opinion in Syosset.
Harry Hudson April 16, 2011 at 04:26 PM
As mentioned earlier, there is not a school budget on LI that has addressed the realities of the current economic situation and state budget cuts as they have here in Syosset. The quality of the education provided in Syosset is debatable. My experience with three children in the district has shown it to be about average compared with other long island schools. The difference here is most families go outside the district for tutoring whether it be for general study or SAT prep. My children come home from school not as well prepared as I did from LI public schools. As a result my wife and I invest much more time with them than our parents did with us. That is our choice and we would do it regardless of what happened in the classroom. The point here is that we are paying expenses at a rate not supported by this kind of end product. There are many good teachers here who work hard. There are also teachers who are coasting and that is obvious. No different than any other district. However, NO OTHER DISTRICT IN THE ENTIRE STATE PAYS THEIR ADMINISTRATION AS MUCH AS SYOSSET. For that I unapologetically expect the absolute best, not average. The "BEST" administration would not mishandle the budget process like this. The "BEST" administration would have put in the time and effort that other districts have and built a consensus. This is a lazy, greedy, self serving administration running unchecked with our money. It is most certainly NOT for the kids.
Howie April 16, 2011 at 04:39 PM
It continually confounds me how all of these Hankinistas simply cede all of the credit for how their children turn out to the school system. Didn't YOU and your ethics and morals and sense of responsibility have anything to do with it? Didn't your children, following your examples, have anything to do with how they are turning out? The Pro-Administration bunch seem to be under the impression that the schools are wholly responsible for how our children turn out and if we don't reward them a king's ransom then our children's futures will be dismal. Michael, I'm sure that you're proud of your children, as we all are. But do you really believe that if they attended another school then they would become less successful? If so, then I'm afraid that you have too low an opinion of them and yourself and you're not giving yourselves enough credit for the amount of impact that your family has on their overall success. And once again, it almost goes without saying, too much credit is going to the schools input. Everyone that is posting here is obviously passionate enough to be involved and cares deeply about their children. So no matter where these kids go to school they are going to be priority one at home. Therefore, it still stands to reason to me that although there may be slight differences in opportunity and programs from district to district, there is still no sane justification whatsoever for the unchecked spending and salaries of this district and its administration.
michael petruzillo April 16, 2011 at 05:23 PM
Actually figuring out administrative pay is also quite subjective. An arguement could be made that Hankins is not the highest paid Administrator in the state. The school provides the environment to succeed. Each child and family individually decides how they take advange of it.Yes Syosset high School plays a large role in the success of our children.I take offense to being labeled pro administration. I see a group of teachers and adminitrators doing there very best and the kids of the community benefitting from it. When was the last time you said a teacher or administrator they were doing a good job? Better yet have you ever put it in writting? The school budget vote is not something that should be treated like a political football. The budget should be passed!!!! if you really don t like what is going on then take the time and change the process. Nominate slate who you want for the school board and spend the time getting them elected. My guess is that you will find out that views are not shared by your neighbors. Inaddition just maybe you will come to find out that you have been wrong with your opinions. Better yet maybe you can convince me that i m wrong. However you will have do alot better than what i have read here. What this debate has done for me is that for the first time in 18 years i will actually take the time and vote yes for the the budget!!!!!!!!
Howie April 16, 2011 at 05:55 PM
Michael- You say you take offense to being labelled pro administration. Then you go like you'll defend them to the death. Well which is it? From the tenor of your few entries I'd have to guess that your wife is an active PTA cliquer. So you just go along forwarding the usual propaganda that is fed down from District Central through the usual channels. It also seems to me that many of these individuals also think that this whole system is a crock. But they stay involved out of some feeling that it will somehow get their children an "in" or some kind of special treatment or influence if needed. I'm sure that in many cases that this certainly takes place. When scheduling or class selections are being made PTA members with clout who make noise will certainly make sure that their children get what they want. And don't even waste yours and my time by typing that this is not the case. We all know that this behavior is prevalent. But fear of reprisals against your children keeps your mouths shut tight. It was sickening to watch such a clique of phonies standing and clapping like seals to their master at that farce of a meeting the other night. Don't any of you have any dignity at all? This greed monger is playing you all like a fiddle and making you all look like fools and what do you do? You all volunteer to become her spokespeople to shout her propaganda from the top of the highest mountain top. She doesn't even have to work for it any more. Why should she? She's got you fools!
Stan April 16, 2011 at 05:57 PM
Lets all vote YES to increase another 3% to Hankins 508,000 pay package (as long as I don't have to pay Syosset tax). Don't forget Steinmans package $385,000
Howie April 16, 2011 at 06:06 PM
Let me guess Stan--You're a non resident Syosset teacher. That seems to be their universal point of view. Everyone all deserves all of this money because they do such a first class job, as long as its not coming out of their pockets. Makes you kind of wonder how they vote on the budgets in the districts where they live and how carefully they scrutinize THEIR tax bills when the shoe is on the other foot.
michael petruzillo April 16, 2011 at 06:17 PM
Well Howie my full name appears. Anyone who knows me knows I have no problem saying it like I see. It is a limited mentality that feels teachers would go after kids because of the parents opinions. With your name calling i m sure the teachers in the school would feel sorry for your kids and it would benebfit them.Neither my wife or I are active in the district. I do attend every sporting event and concert that my children are in. I was at sports night and saw first hand the number of teachers who gave up a Friday night to be with our kids. No they weren t paid to do so. So yes i have seen first hand how much work is put into the kids of the district to succeed!!!
Howie April 16, 2011 at 06:58 PM
Well michael you can have your say. But as I said earlier, it is an extremely limited mentality that allows oneself to cede complete credit for how your children have turned out to the schools as you apparently have. If you don't feel that your children would have succeeded in any other district then that is a poor reflection on how you think of yourself and them, not an endorsement of the administration for the school district that you are in. And I don't think that a majority of the dissenters here are displeased with the district as a whole or the teachers. We do however see Dr Hankin and the dictatorial, non-transparent way that she seems to conduct her business towards us, along with what we believe are outlandish salaries for her and her cohorts in a public arena, are things that are in desperate need of change in the current climate. And thusfar they have done everything possible to circumvent any attempt to broach even a conversation concerning any type of change that involves anything that might involve cutting any of her "entitlements". Everywhere in the world changes are taking place to adjust to the realities of the economy. Why does Carole Hankin and her loyal followers feel that she is the only one that somehow has a Godly immunity to these realities? Syosset has to wake up and smell the coffee. And so does she! Enough is enough! How about putting self interest aside and working a budget by cutting out some of your extras and no tax raises Doc?
Stan April 16, 2011 at 07:16 PM
Let me tell you Howie - You tried to get budget details for over 10 years and did you get? If we can get a job in SSD, we know how to surivie also. Yes I have not been paying Syosset taxes and if needed I will pay.
Brenda Wendelken April 16, 2011 at 09:03 PM
It really seems as if most people are not in favor of the budget but don't know where to go after voting it down. I think I'd like to be at a budget planning meeting or hearing, or at least pay for an impartial investigation on whether the budget items are necessary or not. Doen't the average taxpayer/resident have any recourse? Do we have to appeal to the State Department of Education? I am a senior resident of Syosset and have lived here for 40 years, paying taxes and having three children go through the school system.
HL Ballow April 16, 2011 at 11:56 PM
Time to move Brenda, if you are a voter and you object to the budget and the rising taxes you are considered an undesirable because you have probably noticed that your home value has gone down, the scholl is NOT a Blue Riboon anymore (failing to be rated as a top school in Nassau county by US News and World Reports) - and the District sales pitch no longer applies to you. So Vote yes, pay the taxes or move.
roger April 17, 2011 at 12:13 AM
Going from $138,000,000 budget in 2005 to $192,000,000 in 2011 is absurd and a total abuse of taxpayer money. This Board of Education is run by a lunatic, who spends his days with the botox crowd who frequent his business for dental cosmetics. He does not represent tht average Syosset taxpayer. Vote NO for this budget and lets vote in new blood for the board.
Ed Lewis April 17, 2011 at 12:26 AM
Brenda, I'm surprised that more Syosset seniors like you that did put their children through this system don't speak out more in large numbers and protest. There is a lot of pressure as discussed here for actual parents to speak out against budgets due to retribution. You seniors have the most to gain. As I keep saying the not the amount, its the return on investment. Less money should still be better spent.
Sheryl Peters April 17, 2011 at 05:23 PM
It clearly states in Newsday today page A4 & A5 that if a school comes in less then a contingency budget (1.92%) Syosset proposed budget increase is 1.86%, your taxes will be higher not lower!!!! The bottom line is a no vote will increase your taxes more then a yes vote. Read Newsday.
Howie April 17, 2011 at 06:06 PM
CLEARLY? The article states ""If voters next month reject a school budget, under law that district must hold spending increases next year to 1.92 percent." The article also goes on to say that this is a LIMIT not an endall figure. If we, as taxpayers, decide that a 1.86% hike is too high by voting NO, then the budget should be trimmed DOWN to appease OUR decision, not UP to PUNISH us. Isn't the whole point of having a democracy in the first place to have our voices heard and responded to. Having us vote No with the intent of paying less taxes and having them institute a higher budget just to spite us is contrary to everything the system has been set up to accomplish. Is it any different than voting for a candidate that wins an election just to see his opponent sworn in? (and you Gore people can leave your electoral college and hanging chad debate for another day. You know what I mean in this instance.) There is no reason at all why after a failed budget vote that they cannot make CUTS instead of raises, especially when they did their very best to delay til the very last moment to present the budget numbers to us. (we still haven't seen details) We have not had any input and no time to make changes when I see many other towns having great interactions with their people working together. Yet this Board remains shielded, as usual. Its time for transparency and straightforwardness. But unfortunately those are the only things that this Board has no problem cutting out.
Harry Hudson April 18, 2011 at 12:20 PM
I'm not sure where Newsday gets their number from or how accurate they are. There are conflicting numbers out there. According to the Jericho Admin. the increase is limited to 1.2 %. The formula is based on the CPI. The prior year's budget is adjusted by subtracting debt service and capital expenditures, then increased by the calculated percentage with the current debt service and capital expenditures added back. This is the new contingency limit. Of course there is no requirement to increase the budget at all contingency or not. Important to remember though is after 2 NO votes, voters can not prevent the Board from implementing a maximum increase under the law. Don't assume a good faith effort from the Board to reduce costs.
Howie April 18, 2011 at 12:47 PM
"Important to remember though is after 2 NO votes, voters can not prevent the Board from implementing a maximum increase under the law." So when Hankin states that adding back the 3 million+in salary freezes, this will force a 3.61% raise on the budget if we vote the budget down, this is really just more scare tactics because it is a scenario that realistically can't take place. But she threw it out there like it was a certainty if we dare go against her. Why can't they just deal straight with us?
Joe April 18, 2011 at 12:54 PM
$$$$$$$$$$192,0000,000.00 and counting...........Totally disgusting.
Robert Smith April 23, 2011 at 02:38 AM
Syosset Superintendant Hankin that gets paid 500K and she employs a deputy that syosset residents pay 380k. After years of complaining, The School finally published their budget last week of 192M for under 7000 children. As a retired CIO of a Fortune 500 company you would think I could understand their figure? They have not used any generally accepted accounting principles in their published budget, so clearly in my opinion they are hiding facts from the taxpayers. This really should come as no suprise as this is the same Superintendent Carole Hankin that was on the Board of Directors and auditing committee of CUC International AKA Cendant during the largest accounting fraud and scandal in US history – until Enron? It appears that she was not even vetted by the School Board and yet they are paying her 500K of taxpayer money? This link shows that she was on the list of worst board of directors in 1998 http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m4070/is_n138/ai_21266123/pg_10/ This link shows when she resigned to the delight of the investors in 2000 http://money.cnn.com/2000/04/05/companies/cendant/ The School Board President is a dentist and probably has no idea how to read an operational budget, as most people - yet he stands by always and supports the budget. Syosset is hosed unless the resident taxpayer is willing to stand up and vote NO.
Whistleblower April 23, 2011 at 08:53 PM
The 192M in the 2011 budget vote is being represented as a 1.86% increase over last years budget, however this is really misleading. What the School District doesn’t want you to know (they don’t show it in the posted budget) is that they only spent 168,895,296 of the budget and moved $17,495,551 to reserves which now total $32,869,582. So the 168M was actual and the 186M was the forecast, therefore the School is asking for $22M more in this years budget than they spent last year which is an increase of over 14%. These accounting tricks were brought to us by none other than Carole Hankin, of Cendant accounting fraud fame, and illegal in the private sector. See: http://money.cnn.com/2000/04/05/companies/cendant/ So when anyone is concerned about a NO vote meaning we have no money for the kids, think again. We have 32M in reserves even if we go to Contingency. All this information can be found at LICARE.org Syosset Central School District 2010 186,390,847 Budget 168,895,296 actual expense last year (17,495,551) moved to reserves 32,869,582 total reserves
IRV April 23, 2011 at 09:26 PM
This is unbelievable, but par for the course in Syosset Central School District. In these tough time, if they didn't spend 17M last year why wouldn't they at the very least reduce this years forecasted budget down from 186M to 162M and use the 17M or even the 32M from the reserve for any shortfall. These hidden budget tricks are what we were wondering about as to where the money is going. What are they planniong on spending the 32M reserve on? do they have to tell us or evemn ask for our vote? Are we going to let them get away with this? It sound like going to a contincency budget is a far cry from being a problem. Syosset School District needs a NIFA type organization. We have to Vote NO. There is no risk as the money is there(just hidden).
Klinghoffer April 23, 2011 at 11:21 PM
I have been asked to publish this information for the residents of Syosset. You should not allow you School Board or your School Superintendant to bamboozle you. Although different in every state, there are rules that must be followed. http://arkansased.org/about/pdf/sample_budgets.pdf This link is an example of what a school budget is supposed to look like (very simple example) and what should be made public. I am not familiar with NY law, however in Arkansas we have to show Actual verses Proposed. (please read the Instructions at the top, as this will make it clear) We call the actual category last years budgeted expenditures (same as actual). Looks like you have a dirty School Board
Michael April 25, 2011 at 03:30 AM
So, Syosset Budget last year was 186M. We ended up spending 168.5M so we had a 17.5M surplus that they did not tell the community about. We are now being asked to budget for 192M? Isn't this 24M more than we spent last year? If the teachers are having a salary freeze, and we overbudgeted 17.5M dollars last year, isn't the school board asking us to budget for a lot more than we need? Why would any taxpayer vote for a 192M budget when there is no evidence that we need that much money Instead the evidence is that the budget should be about $20,000,000 less. Isn't this even worse than giving the governemt a tax free loan and then getting a refund on April 15th? In ths School tax situation the School just keeps the money and spends if we vote yes. We don't get overpayments back from the school like we do from the Treasury on April 15th. How can any fair minded American vote yes knowing that even if they could afford it themselves, it could hurt their fellow American taxpayer neighbor.
garyG September 07, 2011 at 02:19 AM
I received a call from a friend in Omaha today. It seems that our incoherent school superinendent opened her mouth once again, made a statement to the press and brought to light gain how such an utterly useless school superintendent is being paid 500K by ignorant Syosst taxpayers. It seems that she answered a question about the use of technology in the 21st century like google, facebook and twitter and she rambled incoherently about the strides Syosset schools are making in keeping ahead by citing the teaching of Chinese to kindergarten students and Russian to our first graders. People from different parts of the country are laughing at all of the Syosset taxpayers for keeping her on. When is this going to end?

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