Bond Question of the Week

Bond Question of the Week #6:

Q. Dr. G., can the District use the monies currently in reserves to pay for the scope of items within the bond?
A. It’s actually an interesting question, and the truth is that it really depends on whether the reserve is considered Restricted or Unrestricted. In the interest of full and complete transparency, let me take you all through a full accounting of the District's reserves. Most of us have had to rebuild a bank account in our lives. Savings usually take a long time to build, can disappear very quickly, and are likely to take a long time to re-build. Reserves are no different. 
Restricted Funds
Restricted reserves can only be used for specific purposes and they can only be accessed with voter approval for their intended purpose.  They help us to plan against existing liabilities in all facets of our operations. We use these monies to protect ourselves against existing liabilities such as building repairs, workers’ compensation claims, unemployment claims, retirement system payments, and capital projects approved by the voters.

Here is a complete accounting of the District’s Reserves from our audited financial statements that were previously presented to the Audit Committee and will appear on the Board of Education’s agenda on December 12, 2019 for action.
Restricted Reserves: $16,328,322.49
These can only be used for a specific purpose as outlined in statute and with approval from either the voters or sometimes from the Board of Education in special circumstances.
Assigned Fund Balance from 2018-2019: $2,300,000.00
These are monies from additional interest income earned on investments last year and savings from the 18-19 budget that are being used to offset the 2019-2020 tax levy. It includes money from the special legislative grants, also used to offset the tax levy.  The total is comprised of the following:

  • Fund Balance from the prior year $1,200,000.00
  • Designated Special Grant to offset razing of

Glenwood Landing Power Plant from Senator
Marcellino and Assemblyman Lavine: $1,100,000.00

Assigned Encumbrances: $1,660,895.37
These are funds that are carried over from 2018-2019 purchase orders that were issued, but not fulfilled by the end of June 30, 2019.  They must be used to pay for our outstanding expenses.

Subtotal: Total Restricted Reserves: $20,289,217.86

Unrestricted Funds
The District has much more flexibility when using our unrestricted reserves and we can use them at our discretion.  However, it is important to preserve the existence of these monies. This is essentially our savings account of accessible money that we would only use in the most serious of circumstance to fund a project that would not have been budgeted for or not covered by the District’s insurance carrier.

Unrestricted Reserves: $4,311,997.44
                                                                                               
Special Designation- LIPA:
Balance of unused Special Grant to offset razing
of Glenwood Landing Power Plant from Senator
Marcellino and Assemblyman Lavine  $2,884,879.53

These unrestricted reserve funds can be used at the Board’s discretion. However, a portion of the special grants are being used each year to offset the tax levy.  We've already been using a portion of these, judiciously and openly each year, to deal with previous tax effects related to the demolition of the Glenwood Landing Power Plant. Since we are simultaneously studying the financial impact analysis of the tentative LIPA settlement with Nassau County, some of these reserves are specifically intended to help with a LIPA settlement - and we will use them in that manner since they are intended/ restricted to be used for that specific reason.

Subtotal:         Total Unrestricted Reserves: $7,196,876.97

Grand Total: $27,486,094.83

It would be impractical at this time to use the monies in our reserves to fund projects identified within the bond.  There are essentially three reasons:

  1. New York State Statute would prohibit the District from using any of the Restricted Reserves for anything other than their intended purposes.
  2. In addition to there being no statutory mechanism to do so, it would be both improper and an irresponsible use of our taxpayers’ money to simply save the $40M over time and then embark upon the planned work within the scope of a bond. 
  3. The long-term financial health of the District is dependent upon our ability to hold available and unrestricted funds to meet the complex needs of a complex organization.

I am always available to the community and I welcome anyone with any general or specific questions to contact me directly. While some of this can be confusing I wanted to be sure to address the community with steadfast fortitude through the lens of providing our students with the world class education they deserve. The greatest value of a democracy is having the ability to vote and express opinions. Regardless of where you stand on the proposed bond, I hope that on Tuesday, December 10, 2019 our North Shore community members take the time to vote and have their voices heard and that we continue to work in the spirit of collaboration on behalf of the children we share.

Very truly yours,

Dr. Peter Giarrizzo

Bond Question of the Week #5:

Q. How in the world can the proposed North Shore Bond still possibly be tax neutral? 

A. The tentative settlement between Nassau County and LIPA is the result of nine years of pending litigation. Upon learning about the tentative settlement between LIPA and Nassau County, I immediately called our financial advisors and bond counsel. As directed by the Board of Education, the primary assumption made in planning this bond referendum has been to achieve a payment schedule that remains flat from year to year. The bond payments from the 1999 Bond Referendum retired in the 2018-2019 fiscal year. In addition, two more bonds will retire in 2022-2023 and then again in 2025-2026. It remains our steadfast goal to keep the projected principal and interest payments from this proposed bond AT or LESS than the amounts that are being retired.

Simply put, after my discussions with our financial advisors and bond counsel, they confirmed that with past bonds set to retire and our bond payments decreasing, it will not cost our taxpayers any additional money in taxes if the proposed bond remains under $40 million. The school district will use the retiring debt to fund the new debt. All future borrowing will be meticulously thought through and planned. Your tax dollars are precious, and we will only borrow the needed funds to complete the proposed projects in a responsible manner. As you are aware, this proposed referendum is a significant investment in our schools. Facts are important, and I will always be honest with you. This process has involved years of planning, research, and much community input.  

Tonight, I will be hosting a Bond Community Forum at Glen Head School Library at 7 pm. As always, if you have any questions, please join me at Glen Head School or contact me directly. Remember to vote on Tuesday, December 10, 2019 in the North Shore High School Gym from 7 am to 10 pm
Very truly yours,

Dr. Peter Giarrizzo
Superintendent of Schools

Bond Question of the Week #4:

Q. Dr. G.,The second most frequently asked question over the last few months has been, Dr. G., what happens if the Bond does not pass? 
A. This is one of those questions that stirs my attention, for sure! That said, the answer is a fairly straight-forward one. Since the monies already exist in the operating budget, in the event that the bond does not pass, the Board will need to determine if the monies that were to be allocated in the budget for principal and interest payments will be used for other projects or used to offset a future tax levy. If it is used to offset the levy, the average home valued at $750,000 would see a one-time reduction of $130 in their school taxes.  

Stay tuned for next week's question.  If you missed last week's question, you can access it and much more information on our North Shore Schools Website.  Please join me on tonight, November 21st, for a Bond Building Tour at North Shore High School at 5:30 pm.  Following there will be a Board of Education meeting in the high school library at 7:45 pm. Please join us! 
Very truly yours,

Dr. Peter Giarrizzo, Ph.D.

Bond Question of the Week #3:

Q. Dr. G., when you say the majority (48%) of the proposed projects are instructional, what are the key projects at each level to make sure students are learning and growing?
A. 21st Century Learning Spaces are the key focus at all five schools that will impact all of our students. Education today is vastly different than it was 20, 10, and even 5 years ago. Students now work and learn together with teachers acting as facilitators, instructing how to access, filter and use information.

• Today, learning spaces must allow and encourage all students, no matter their learning style, to collaborate, communicate, create, and think critically.
• The proposed bond will focus on transforming the more traditional libraries at each school to technologically advanced library media centers.

At the elementary level:

• Each school will receive a complete renovation to the library
• Each will also have a STEAM lab
• Select classrooms and support areas will receive full or partial renovations

At North Shore Middle School:

• A new tiered student Commons/Flexible Instructional Learning Space
• Renovations to the following areas:
• Math and Science Labs
• Coding Labs
• STEAM Lab,
• FACS Lab
• Band and Practice Rooms
• Creation of a New Ensemble Space for the choir

At North Shore High School, there will be renovations and modifications to:


• Media and Arts Labs
• Choral, Band, and Orchestra Rooms
• Life Skills Lab
• World Language Classroom
• Wood Shop
• Robotics Lab
• Renovated Men's and Women's locker rooms
• Additionally, the reorganization of classrooms will create greater synergies and collaboration between math and sciences, and among humanities classes.

Stay tuned for next week's question. If you missed last week's question, you can access it and much more information on our North Shore Schools Website. Please join me on Thursday, November 21st, for a Bond Building Tour at North Shore High School at 5:30 pm. Following there will be a Board of Education meeting in the high school library at 7:45 pm. Please join us!
Lastly, the North Shore Vikings will take on Plainedge High School tonight at 7:30 PM at Hofstra University in the County Quarterfinals in football. I hope to see you there. In addition wish our Women's Cross County Team your very best as they travel to Plattsburgh, NY to compete in the NYS Championships.

Go Vikings, Go!!!
Very truly yours,

Dr. Peter Giarrizzo
Superintendent of Schools

Bond Question of the Week #2

Q. "I'm all for safety and security, Dr. G., but it is also so important to me that my child's school be accessible and welcoming. What are your plans to make this happen?"
A. This is such an important question and has always been at the forefront of our planning. The best security measures are noticeable without interfering with the general operations of the facility. We have set out to achieve that goal. Each school will have a secure entrance vestibule included in the primary design. They will be staffed by the existing security staff who not only greet our students upon entry but know them and their families by name. Those personal connections are what make our schools special and the objective of the secure entrance vestibule will be designed to vet visitors to our schools before they are given access.  
We will also be building upon and expanding our existing video surveillance system enhancements, intrusion alarm and card access system upgrades, and door replacements across the District.
Stay tuned for next week's question.  If you missed last week's question, you can access it and much more information on our North Shore Schools Website.  


If you haven't done so yet, please mark your calendars for Wednesday, November 13th at 7 PM when all of our parent groups will host a District-Wide Parent Organization Meeting at Glenwood Landing School Auditorium.  This is the very first time our parent groups are coming together to speak with the community about their events, accomplishments, and future plans. I am very excited to be their Guest Speaker. Come learn about the good work that's happening and get informed about the upcoming projects we are proposing!  Children are invited to a Pajama Storytime in the GWL Library, facilitated by NSHS students.  Drop off is at 6:50 PM.

 

Enjoy this beautiful day!!

With warmest regards,
Peter Giarrizzo, Ed. D.
Superintendent of Schools

 

Bond Question of the Week #1

Dear North Shore Parents, Community Members, and Faculty,

December 10, 2019 will be the day that we ask our taxpayers to vote upon the proposed bond referendum. From now until then, I will be publishing the answer to a weekly question of the week that is important for you to understand and one that we hear of frequently within the community.    

Q. What the heck does tax neutral really mean and how can it possibly be that the proposed North Shore Bond is tax neutral?
A. The primary assumption made in planning this bond has been to achieve a payment schedule that remains flat from year to year. The bond payments from the 1999 Bond Referendum retired in the 2018-2019 fiscal year. In addition, two more bonds will retire in 2022-2023 and then again in 2025-2026. Our Board directed us to keep the projected principal and interest payments from this proposed bond AT or LESS than the amounts that are being retired. By doing so, the projected new annual bond payments will be at or less than all three of the retiring bonds combined.

We now have a very unique funding opportunity that will allow us to address significant and substantial needs in infrastructure, safety and security, health and wellness, and our use of instructional space. Here is how the funding will work over the next five years. You will see that on balance, the impact to the taxpayers is essentially flat or neutral.

This proposed referendum is a major investment in our schools and facts are important. It is a process that has involved years of planning, research and much community input. The implementation will involve even more planning and a competitive bidding process to ensure that we get the most value for our spending. As always, if you have a questions, please contact me directly or join me at any number of upcoming events. This week, there is Coffee and Conversation at my office at 9:30 am.  If you would like to join me on a building tour this Saturday, November 2, 2019 at 10 am, please RSVP to Betty Ciampi at ciampb@northshoreschools.org by Thursday morning, at 9 am.  For more information on the bond, please visit http://www.northshoreschools.org/boe/bond.html

Please mark your calendars for Wednesday, November 13th at 7 pm at North Shore High School where our parent organizations will host a information night on the bond via a short presentation in the Theatre and small group break-out informational sessions in the Cafeteria.  I hope that you can join us!!

Stay tuned for more information and next week's Bond Question!


Very truly yours,
Peter Giarrizzo, Ed. D.
Superintendent of Schools