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How State Aid Affects Our Schools

District could top two percent cap

The Garden City schools will be getting more in state aid this year as a result of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed aid package, but district officials say the increase would be small and budget woes remain large.

Under Cuomo’s plan the district would see its 2012-13 state aid rise from $4,242,218 to a proposed $4,267,293, a .59 percent increase or $25,075. According to Dr. Robert Feirsen, the schools superintendent, the amount would barely make a dent with Garden City’s school monetary woes.

“It’s such a small amount that it would basically have no impact on the budget,” he said. “You’re talking about a $105,000,000 budget and an increase of $25,000 doesn’t change the percentages much,” Feirsen said. “We have many mandated increase costs and this doesn’t really help.”

Pensions and health care are among the state mandated costs the district has to contend with. And while the Garden City Teachers Association renegotiated its contract last year, resulting in an approximate $675,000 savings in the 2013-13 school year, there are other expenses looming that the district hadn’t had to contend with.

“We’re being demanded by the state to move to online testing for our students, which requires tremendous infrastructure changes and purchases and acquisitions of technology,” explained Fiersen. “Plus one of the most significant for our school district here is tax certiorari lawsuits that we are not responsible for paying. That could be millions of dollars. That’s the process by which property owners appeal their taxes to get reductions. So we’ve never had to contend with that because the county before acknowledged that if they made the error, they would pay the damages. Now the county shifted that to the school districts and potentially millions of dollars to Garden City.”

The other aspect of these tax certiorari lawsuits is that the added incurred expense is not exempted from the two percent cap the state expects Garden City and all other school districts to stay below. It’s a controversy that Garden City Public Schools were drawn into and an understandable source of frustration for the superintendent.

“If we’re sitting on a few million bucks in terms of tax refunds that we are liable for, that basically eats up all of the allowable increases [within the cap] and then some,” said Fiersen. “[It] makes any increase within the tax levy cap ridiculous because we now have all these millions of dollars of lawsuits that we’re responsible for, and we have nothing to do with assessments.”

State Sen. Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City), shakes his head over the small increase in state aid and those upcoming tax certiorari payments that the Garden City School District faces.  

“For districts to lose money, and some will or will gain very little, it doesn’t strike me as being essentially fair,” Hannon said. “As we negotiate on the budget, we’ll try to make sure that we get a better break for all districts. “[As for the tax certiorari], the rest of the state deals with it because they pay it. But in another sense, since 1938, the county has basically been picking up that charge. So there is going to be a need to have a better adjustment for school districts in the county.”

 

News

April 19 fundraiser to be

held for baby with rare disease

Tom Onorato, the nephew and office manager of Dr. Joseph Onorato Garden City practice All Island Dermatology Plastic Surgery & Laser Center, recently celebrated the birth of a baby boy with his wife Melissa. Both were thrilled when Thomas Kevin Onorato came into the world on September 10, 2013. Despite being born five weeks early, baby Thomas managed to surprise his parents with his indomitable spirit and was sent home with a clean bill of health. A mere four days later began the fight for Thomas’ life.

Stewart Manor budget, mayor’s salary increase

At a time when municipalities are grappling with keeping expenditures down, the Village of Stewart Manor saw not only its 2014-15 operating budget increase, but its mayor’s salary. At a meeting of the board of trustees held on Monday, April, 8, Stewart Manor adopted a budget of $2,418,548.03, a 1.4 percent increase over the previous year. In addition, the board approved a raise of $1,000 for Mayor Gerard Tangredi, bringing his salary to $3,000. The salaries for trustees John Egan, M. Carole Schafenberg, and William Grogan are set at $2,000 each. Deputy Mayor Michael Onorato has declined his stipend.

Salaries and benefits make up 42 percent of the total budget. According to the state comptroller, it’s acceptable for that number to be as high as 65 percent. The total costs of salaries and benefits have actually decreased by around 5 percent from the previous year’s adopted budget.  


Sports

Easter Egg Hunt For Pre-K To Grade 5

The Garden City Recreation Department is once again sponsoring the annual Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday, April 19 at Community Park’s fields. This Year Three hunt will be held at 10 a.m. sharp with three age divisions: preschool to kindergarten, grades 1 and 2; and grades 3 to 5.

Special eggs will be stuffed and hidden for all divisions. Each hunt will also feature a grand prize (an Easter basket filled with goodies) which will go to the youngster who finds the egg marked “#1 Lucky Egg.” For further information about the hunt, please call the recreation department at 516-465-4075.

Commitment at Kellenberg

Garden City residents continue to excel while participating in the athletic program over at Uniondale’s Kellenberg Memorial High School.

Each season, coaches of Kellenberg sports pick one player from their squad who has demonstrated remarkable commitment to the team through their hard work at practice and in competition.

The Village of Garden City has a long history of residents who've excelled both on the academic and athletic side of the ledger at Kellenberg. This time around, seniors Kelly O’Donnell (varsity cheerleading), Stacy Madelmayer (varsity girls basketball) and Bryan Salecker (swimming and diving team) have all been awarded the Commitment Award for their outstanding efforts, devotion, hard work and commitment to their respective teams.


Calendar

Dinner & A Movie: In Transition 2.0

Thursday, April 17

School Budget Meeting

Wednesday, April 23

Judi Mark One-woman Show At Library

Thursday, April 24



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com