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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

The Garden City Chamber of Commerce is gearing up for the 35th annual Fall Festival Street Fair set for Saturday, Oct. 25 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Seventh Street. The chamber thanks the Garden City Hotel which will serve as the primary event sponsor.

JGS entertainment will return for the 16th year as master ceremonies providing music and vocals. There will be plenty of activities for the kids. Included will be the return of the two trackless trains carrying children 12 years of age and younger up and down Seventh Street sponsored by Coach Realtors and Garden City Teachers Association. There will be the traditional inflatable bouncy house sponsored by SMPL Technologies and the ever-popular money cube sponsored by Calogero’s and Leo’s. The Garden City Parks and Recreation Department will have giveaways and temporary tattoos.

Ever since the Garden City School District passed a $36.8 million School Investment Bond back in 2009, the upgrades throughout the district have been quite substantial. And while most of it has gone towards infrastructure, external visible improvements have rightfully been a source of pride for the board, which has taken to conducting tours at the different schools preceding the monthly public meetings that are normally held at Garden City High School. On the night of the school board meeting held on Tuesday, Oct. 14  at the Homestead Building, the school board, administration and Superintendent Dr. Robert Feirsen went on a guided tour of the building by Homestead Principal Dr. Suzanne Viscovich.

Feirsen described the tour as a new tradition started last year where administration travels around each of the district’s school buildings in the Fall to observe its current offerings and recent upgrades.


Sports

Reminder

With the fall sports season upon us, the department of recreation and parks would like to remind all residents that pets are not allowed in any neighborhood parks, Community Park, or St. Paul’s fields. Non compliance with this rule will result in the issuance of appearance tickets.

Register For The Online Registration Option

Garden City’s Department of Recreation and Parks will offer the option of online registration with credit card payment beginning with its winter programs in early December.

In order for a family to use the online registration option, the family will first need to visit the recreation and parks office at 108 Rockaway Ave. to verify residency and their family information and receive their password.  A list of instructions as to how to use the website will be included.

Stretching tips for the high school athlete

Prior to the start of high school running season, Garden City’s Physical Therapy Options (PTO) had an opportunity to provide a presentation to members of Sacred Heart Academy’s cross country team. Team members gathered at Garden City’s New York Running Company to learn strategies and tips for a successful fall season.

PTO staff members Dr. Meghan Goetz, Doctor of Physical Therapy, and PTO Aide Mike Murphy discussed the importance of stretching to prevent injury and provided strategies and tips for success for the high school runner.


Calendar

Garden City High School Homecoming

Saturday, October 25

Marvelous Movie Matinée

Monday, October 27

A Map Of Artistic Inspiration

Saturday, November 1



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