A Guide to
ACADEMICS, ATHLETICS and the ARTS
Dear Community Members,
We are pleased to be able to provide you with this
budget handbook, which was designed to answer
some of the questions that have been asked about
the budget process at various school venues. It is the intention of the
Board of Education and District Administration to continue
our policy of openness and transparency with all constituents in
our schools and community. We hope you will find this
Inside this handbook...
About Half Hollow Hills ..... 4-5
What’s the purpose
of the budget? ...................... 6
What are the
budget goals? ....................... 6
What are the challenges
for 2009/10? ......................... 6
What’s a contingency
budget? ................................. 7
What will happen if the
budget doesn’t pass? ........... 7
How is the proposed
budget developed? ............... 8
What does the District do to
safeguard taxpayers? .......... 9
State aid cuts ........................ 10 -11
District bond rating ............ 12
information .......................... 12
About Half Hollow Hills…
The District maintains 14 buildings occupying
approximately1.5 million square feet, covering
over 300 acres of property, including over 35
Universal transportation for District students requires
over 90 buses. (We make approximately 510 trips
daily – 255 twice a day.) Special needs routes require
an additional 38 mini buses, and transportation to
out-of-district, private and parochial schools necessitates the use of an
additional 48 buses. The District also transports students for technical
schools, cultural and educational events and athletics, and provides
after-school activity buses for all grade levels. We use 25 buses for
regular summer school and 15 for special needs students.
The District employs 52 administrators (Central Office
and all buildings); 854 full-time teachers; 18 part
time-teachers; and 821 non-certificated employees –
including clerical, custodians, maintenance, monitors,
paraprofessionals, food service, bus drivers and technology staff.
High School East and High School West have
approximately 60 clubs, including an Internet
Club, Literary Magazine and Environmental Club.
Opportunities in art include a full range of electives,
clubs and art service clubs. Music opportunities include marching band,
jazz band, orchestra, chorus and theater performances for grades 5-12.
The high schools and middle schools each present fall and spring
productions, and the fifth graders present a joint production under
the title Hills on Stage.
A wide variety of interscholastic sports teams are fielded. There are 135
different teams throughout the District, representing 28 different sports
at the high school level and 17 at the middle school level. Many teams
are recognized by New York State as Scholar-Athlete teams.
quot;Triple Aquot; District: Our students and
our schools excel on every level – in
Academics, Athletics and the Arts.
• Standard & Poor’s Outperforming School District
• New York Excelsior Award
• Commissioner’s List of High-Achieving Gap-Closing Schools:
High School East, High School West, Candlewood, West Hollow
• Our high schools offer 25 AP courses with 130 available electives
• Model Program for Children with Autism
• Rising Star Program: Ensuring a High Level of Success for
Socio-Economically Disadvantaged and Minority Students
• Highly Regarded Research Program
• Triple A District: Perfectly Blending Academics, Athletics
and the Arts
• World-Class Theatre Programs for Elementary, Middle School
and High School Students
• Multi-Award Winners of the Prestigious Long Island Arts
Alliance Scholar-Artist Awards
• Suffolk County Championships in Basketball, Soccer,
Swimming/Diving, Track and Wrestling
• 2008 SCMEA All-County Concerts: Highest Number of
Participants in Grades 5 through 10
Half Hollow Hills’ student
achievement levels are among
the highest on Long Island,
while our per-pupil spending
is among the lowest on Long Island.
What is the purpose of the budget?
To meet the educational and fiscal goals of the District by supporting the
educational mission, planning for the operational needs of the District
and maintaining financial integrity.
What are the budget goals?
• To maximize the achievement of all students by strengthening
our Districtwide Professional Learning Community
• To continue to develop, deliver and implement a budget that
strengthens and maximizes all of our resources while diminishing the
financial impact on taxpayers
• To ensure equitable opportunities and equitable outcomes for all
students and continue to review programs to ensure consonance with
latest research on educational excellence
• To continue to address demographics and space needs to ensure
appropriate learning environments for all students
• To continue to support the physical & mental health and well
being of all District students and staff
• To continue to improve and upgrade the appearance, safety and
functionality of all District buildings and grounds
• To embrace technology to strengthen teaching, learning and
• To improve communication between and among all stakeholders
What are the challenges for 2009/10?
• To run an efficient system without negatively impacting programs for
• New York State’s economic crisis
• The Governor’s Deficit Reduction Plan, if approved, would reduce
our State aid by $2,932,698
• A proposed mandate for districts to fund 15 percent of preschool
special education and transportation, currently funded by NYS and
Suffolk County. This new mandate would cost Half Hollow Hills
an additional $1 million. This proposal is not included in our
• A proposed mandate to implement an employer payroll tax on
businesses, municipalities, not-for-profits and school districts,
to bail out MTA. This would cost Half Hollow Hills over $400,000.
What is a contingency budget?
Under State law, school boards can submit a budget to voters a
maximum of two times. If the proposed budget is defeated twice,
the Board must adopt a contingency budget. The Board also has the
option of going directly to a contingency budget immediately after a
first budget defeat. Under a contingency budget, the District may not
increase spending by more than 120 percent of the Consumer Price
Index or 4.0 percent, whichever is lower. The contingent budget
formula cap for 2009/10 is 4.0 percent, as per the New York State
The 2009/10 budget currently being prepared
is already below the State's formula cap.
What will happen if the 2009/10 budget
doesn't pass due to NYS regulations?
Required cuts from the proposed budget would, at a minimum, include
student supplies, community use of buildings and grounds, and
equipment, buses and capital projects.
How is the proposed
Throughout the year, the Board of Education Sub-Committee meets
and performs a line-by-line analysis of the entire budget.
From July through September, the Business Office works diligently
to close the financials from the previous fiscal year. The District’s
external auditors independently review the financials from the
previous fiscal year, and a review and analysis begins for the
current year’s fiscal responsibilities.
On a monthly basis beginning in September, the PTA Budget
Committee reviews the current year’s budget. The Committee includes
community members representing the various schools throughout the
District, Board of Education members and Central Administration.
This is a line-by-line analysis of every budgeted dollar in the District.
In October preparations for the following year’s budget begins. The
Board of Education adopts a budget calendar providing a timeline for
Central Administration and the Board to meet. The Business Office
also disseminates budget development packets to all necessary staff. In
November, proposals for equipment purchases, plant and capital project
requests are provided to the Business Office. In December, equipment,
plant, and capital project requests are reviewed with building principals.
In January, projections for the next school year’s staffing are analyzed
along with enrollment projections. In February, Central Office reviews
a first draft of the budget. Detailed analyses of all projections take place
and necessary revisions are made.
The Budget is then presented to the Board of Education by
Budget work sessions with the Board of Education and community
are held beginning in March. The Board of Education and Central
Administration continue an in-depth analysis of the proposed budget.
The PTA Budget Committee also provides input at the monthly meeting.
The Board of Education officially adopts a budget in April.
Details of the projected budget are presented during April and May.
Information regarding the proposed budget is disseminated to the entire
community during the weeks preceding the budget vote in May.
What does the District do
to safeguard taxpayer dollars?
The Half Hollow Hills School District recognizes and understands
that we have a responsibility to ensure that tax money is spent
efficiently and effectively. Our primary objective is to provide the
best education for our children in keeping with our commitment to
honesty, integrity and transparency. These are some of the internal
controls that are in place to safeguard taxpayer and State aid dollars:
• The Board of Education exercises careful oversight concerning
all of the District’s financial transactions.
• The Board of Education, as well as the administrative staff has
attended numerous workshops that focused on internal controls.
• The Board of Education has adopted additional policies
governing the financial management and operation of
• The District maintains strict segregation of duties. This is to
ensure that the assets of the District are safeguarded.
• Three individuals (minimum) are required to process checks.
• Two individuals (minimum) are required to authorize
• Bank reconciliations are performed monthly by an individual
outside of the cash receipts and cash disbursements functions.
• Payroll audits are performed for every biweekly payroll.
• Two approvals (minimum)are required to process all purchase
• The District follows all NYS regulations, which include the
hiring of an independent claims auditor, internal auditor, and
Governor's Proposal Would Have
Cost HHH $4.4 Million*
Over the past months, the District has
taken an active role in opposing both
cuts to State aid for our schools and
the implementation of any new
unfunded mandates, which place
a financial burden on taxpayers.
• Governor’s proposed deficit
reduction assessment to
“A good education
Half Hollow Hills:
may be okay in some
$3.0 million restored
districts, but our
standards are much
• Governor’s proposed shift of
higher. How can
preschool special education
we maintain the
costs from the State/County
resources to hire
to Half Hollow Hills:
the best and
$1.0 million eliminated
to provide university
• Governor’s proposal to impose
employer tax on all businesses
including school districts to fill
students and staff
MTA payroll tax: $400,000
with the opportunity
not yet decided
to work with state-of-
• Total cost of Governor’s original
and maintain quality
proposal to Half Hollow Hills:
facilities and fields
when annual cuts
* As indicated above, our lobbying
efforts helped to significantly reduce
the potential tax burden facing our - Superintendent
Dr. Sheldon Karnilow
community by the Governor.
A recent letter to Governor Paterson
from Superintendent Dr. Sheldon Karnilow
March 4, 2009
Governor David A. Paterson
Albany, NY 12224
Dear Governor Paterson:
In addition to the Deficit Reduction Assessment (DRA), the
Half Hollow Hills Central School District strongly opposes any new
unfunded mandates. Every report issued acknowledges that mandates
are a significant factor in the growth of school district expenses, and the
reports call for no unfunded mandates. Your own proposal has indicated
a reduction in unfunded mandates. Yet, also in your budget is a proposal
to shift 15% of pre-school special education expenses (currently funded
through the State and Counties) to school districts. This contradictory
proposal would cost taxpayers in the Half Hollow Hills Central School
District an additional $1 million. This proposal would allow the State
and Counties to lower their costs, while significantly increasing school
A second new unfunded mandate proposal that is problematic for us is
the MTA payroll tax on all employers, including school districts, within
the MTA region. This new 0.33% payroll tax would create an additional
expenditure to the Half Hollow Hills Central School District of
approximately $400,000. We respectfully request that our DRA be
reinstated, any new unfunded mandates be removed from your budget,
and unfunded mandates already in place be reprieved.
Thank you for your consideration.
Dr. Sheldon Karnilow
Superintendent of Schools
Our District Bond Rating
Bond rating is an independent evaluation of a bond issuer. It is based on
an analysis of the issuer's financial condition and asset base. Bond rating
services are provided by, among others, Standard & Poor's and Moody's
Moody's Investors Service has assigned a Aa2 rating to the
Half Hollow Hills Central School Districts. This rating is given to bonds
that are judged to be of high quality by all standards. The Aa2 rating
reflects the District's substantial Suffolk County tax base, solid financial
position and below average debt burden. Moody's believes the District's
substantial $13.6 billion tax base will remain stable, and expects that the
District's financial position will remain strong, given our prudent
budgeting practices and effective management of our reserve.
Half Hollow Hills
2009/2010 Budget Vote
Tuesday, May 19
High School East
If you are not registered to vote,
you may do so on any school day at the District Clerk’s office.
Special Voter Registration
Saturday, May 2, 10am-1pm
Wednesday, May 13, 9am-8pm
Last Day to Register
District Clerk’s office
Applications must be received by May 12 if the ballot is to be
mailed to the voter, or by May 18 if ballot is to be picked up in person.
Absentee ballots must be cast by 5 pm on Tuesday, May 19.