Tag Archive | "boces"

Teaching Budgets Projected to Remain Relatively Flat

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By Claire Walla

According to both Pierson Middle/High School Principal Jeff Nichols and Sag Harbor Elementary School Principal Matt Malone, the Sag Harbor School District’s anticipated instructional costs will remain relatively flat going into the 2012-2013 school year.

At a budget presentation on Monday, January 23, Nichols and Malone reported projected budgets that will see district totals increase roughly 6.99 percent over this year’s operating budget.

Overall, teaching costs — which include teachers’ salaries, equipment costs, contractual fees and textbook prices — are projected to increase $731,784 next year, bringing the 2012-2013 total to roughly $11,197,784 million, versus this year’s operating budget of $10,465,851.

The district’s business manager Janet Verneuille explained that the only changes in staffing will include the additions of a new sixth-grade teacher and a new English as a Second Language (ESL) teaching assistant, who actually began working in the district last year but wasn’t hired until after last year’s budget was adopted, and therefore hasn’t been factored into the budget.

Sag Harbor School Superintendent Dr. John Gratto added that the district has seen a decrease of four special education teachers and one nurse, who had been at Stella Maris Regional School until the school closed last spring.

Principal Nichols asserted that there are “not that many significant changes to the budget.”

While equipment costs for all departments are looking at a 2-percent increase (or $4,757) for next year, a decrease in special education by $1,053 and a $12,531 drop in co-curricular activities more than make up for it.

Part of the high school’s extra costs for next year are expected to go to the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, which will add another $14,500 to the annual budget. The annual fees for the program are $11,000, the program’s software management program (ManageBac) is $1,000 and an additional $2,500 has been allotted for field trips. Nichols explained that part of the program requirements for foreign language classes include field trips to areas where those languages are spoken, so students will most likely attend trips to parts of New York City.

Nichols went onto explain that the school will also spend $30,000 on professional development to allow more teachers to attend IB training workshops. Although, he added that this expense is part the school’s budget each year regardless of whether or not it is used specifically for IB training.

Nichols noted the fact that Pierson High School has not yet garnered approval from the IB board and is not yet officially an IB school; however, he said he expects to know whether or not the IB diploma program will be offered next fall as soon as this spring.

“We have to submit some paperwork to IB this week, then we’ll have a site visit within the next two months,” he explained.

Following in the wake of Nichols’ presentation, Malone said IB is one of the focuses of next year’s elementary school budget as well. Though the school is not on-track to implement the IB Primary Years’ program, Malone said he plans for teachers to attend IB training to learn more about the program and bring that information back to the community. This way, if IB principles are instilled in the elementary school curriculum, he said students will be better prepared for the diploma program once they get to Pierson.

Malone is currently budgeting $44,292 for professional development (roughly a 17 percent increase over this year), of which he said about $10,000 will be dedicated to IB training.

Dr. Gratto confirmed that the district does not intend to implement the IB primary years’ program. Rather, IB training at the elementary school will help primary teachers better train students for the high school curriculum.

“We believe there’s a lot of benefit to attending these workshops,” Malone added.

He also explained that he’s exploring options for a new math series at the elementary school, which takes advantage of new technologies. And although Malone hasn’t settled on a program, he’s set aside roughly $30,000 in next year’s budget for this purpose.

Finally, Verneuille reported that employee benefits are expected to see an 8-percent increase next year, bringing this year’s total benefit costs from $6.8 million to $7.3 million next year.

While Verneuille said she’s still waiting to see the projected rates for teachers’ retirement costs, she said the rates for health and dental insurance are projected to jump by about 10 percent and the rates for employee retirement costs are expected to jump 12.5 percent—“we got whammed on that!” she exclaimed.

A comprehensive budget breakdown is scheduled to be presented before the Board of Education at its next meeting, February 6.

Local Venders Get Shot on School Bids

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Today bids will be let at Eastern Suffolk BOCES for arts and crafts supplies for East End schools, and for the first time the bid specs may be small enough — and the number of districts few enough —to encourage local vendors to apply.
At the beginning of the school year, Sag Harbor Schools Superintendent Dr. John Gratto was pushing for a South Shore Purchasing Consortium (SSPC), which would inform and encourage local bidders to provide items in East End school districts such as fuel oil, supplies and paper in the hope of saving districts money. Gratto said that by encouraging local bidders to apply, districts might be able to save money because the transportation and delivery costs would be less. Businesses can also be competitive, according to Gratto, without having to bid for a much larger area.
Though many local school districts expressed interest in Gratto’s idea, in November he called that plan “defunct” after approaching BOCES who offered to create four zones, including a new zone which would take in an area similar to that proposed by Gratto in the SSPC.
Previously, BOCES asked businesses to offer bids for goods and services for their entire region, which includes 51 school districts between Montauk and Orient to Islip and Brookhaven. Now, with the new zone in place, businesses can bid on projects solely for local school districts in Southampton, East Hampton and Shelter Island towns.
“As a result of Gratto’s initiative, BOCES is breaking up into four zones, to allow more local bidders to get involved,” said Len Bernard, the Sag Harbor School District’s business manager.
He explained that any vendor could apply for a project in more than one zone, but for some companies, staying within the borders of just one zone could help them competitively bid for projects. The new zones now stretch as far west as Babylon and Huntington.
“It was basically a re-structuring,” said Bernard.
Last Thursday, the Sag Harbor School District invited local companies and others to attend a meeting to learn the process of bidding for local projects. Bernard noted that approximately 12 vendors attended the event, including Robert Evjen representing the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce. BOCES representatives explained that arts and crafts supplies will be the first item put out for bid. Following that, there will be a bid for custodial supplies in May, fuel oil in June, and a stationery and paper bid in August.
At the meeting, Laurie Conley, school purchasing agent for BOCES, handed out a sample bid package for the arts and crafts supplies. In the package, there was information pertaining to the contract, a reference form, and the bid proposal. Conley reminded bidders that they must have obtained this form from either BOCES or the Long Island Bid Notification System, to be considered.
Elizabeth Dow, owner of Mixed Media Art and Supply Store in Amagansett and director of the Applied Art School there, is currently bidding on the arts and crafts for all four zones and attended Thursday’s meeting.
“Overall, BOCES was well represented and very accommodating,” said Dow. “It was clear that the effort to focus on local business was heartfelt and genuine.”
During the bidding process, the bidder must come in at the lowest price, “but they must also have systems in place to fill and ship orders to multiple locations,” said Dow. “This may sound easy but is not that simple. Many vendors are not stocking materials to keep their cash flow unencumbered. This creates longer lead times for the end user and makes for a bigger challenge in filling orders in a timely fashion.”
She said bidding can also be difficult because it can involve multiple vendors with strict guidelines. Further, Dow said that some vendors require large minimum orders in order to get the best pricing and can typically be out of reach to many local businesses.
“That said, I am personally rolling up my sleeves and sharpening the pencil to try and compete,” said Dow who feels that the new zoning developed by BOCES is a good idea, because it gets local companies involved in the bidding process and gives them “an opportunity to take on as much or as little as is their comfort level.”
Bernard said in addition to attempting to get more local companies involved, BOCES is also offering to bid out services such as plumbing, HVAC, painting, carpentry and electric, and the majority of people who attended Thursday’s meeting were those in the service industry.
“For example, if there were a need for a cracked sink to be fixed, there would be a list of vendors for BOCES contractors,” said Bernard, adding this has never been done before.
Gratto added that landscaping may also be put out for bid.
“It was a really productive meeting,” said Bernard, “It would be great to get some local vendors involved.”
According to Gratto, another presentation may be held in the coming weeks through the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce for those who were unable to attend.
BOCES posts all bids on www.longislandbidsystem.com and are advertised in Newsday’s Suffolk edition. Information on how to bid for projects can also be viewed at that web address.
If a company applies for a bid, BOCES will inform that company of rejection or approval once the bids are opened. This process can take anywhere from two to eight weeks from the date of the opening of the bid.

 

Venders can also view bids by visiting:

http://esboces.org/CB