Anton Community Newspapers  •  132 East 2nd Street  •  Mineola, NY 11501  •  Phone: 516-747-8282  •  FAX: 516-742-5867
Attention: open in a new window. PDFPrintE-mail

Busing And The School Budget

Transportation expenses raise

questions at review session

On Tuesday, Feb. 26 the Garden City Board of Education held its second meeting in the budget review process. This particular presentation focused on the non-instructional components for 2013-14. The proposed overall budget is $107,930,252 that is part of the budget-to-budget increase of 3.56 percent; which results in a projected tax levy increase (with STAR) of 3.86 percent against a maximum allowable tax levy of 3.91 percent.

There are three key drivers primarily responsible for increasing the size of the budget. The first are pension cost hikes that increased from 12.3 percent to 16.5 percent for teachers and administrators and 18.9 percent to 20.9 percent for all other employees. Then there is debt service—payments for bonds approved by the community in 1998, 2005 and 2009. The good news here is that debt service is slated to decline beginning in 2015. Most onerous is the tax certioraris, which found Nassau County shifting responsibility for paying in errors in the county’s assessments to schools districts. Along with covering the cost of these incorrect assessments, there are other expenditures involved as well. Coupled with pension cost hikes, the other state-mandated cost, it adds up to large amount for the district to cover according to Dr. Robert Feirsen, the evening’s first presenter and the school district superintendent.

“In addition to the fees from the tax certioraris are the actual awards to various entities who are over-assessed. There are going to be legal feels associated with this because we have to be represented at the table, when those negotiations take place or when it goes to court. So this is a significant expenditure facing the school district,” he explained adding. “Pension and tax certiorari alone would create a 3.76 percent tax increase. Remember, out tax levy limit is 3.91 percent.” (At the time of the meeting, the ruling from the state appeals court decision rejecting Nassau County’s attempt to shift these property tax refunds to school districts had not yet been rendered.)

The other flashpoint that begged questions from both the board of education and residents was the proposed $4,339,724 slated for transportation costs that include salaries, private contract costs, supplies and materials. This number caught the attention of Board of Education vice president Barbara Trapasso who despite declaring support for the bus drivers and for the district owning its own transportation system raised the question of possibly farming out the work. This issue, which has come during budget work sessions in prior years was addressed by both the superintendent and Albert Chase, the assistant superintendent for business and finance.

“[Owning our own bus fleet] is something that makes our community unique in a lot of ways. A lot of districts don’t own their transportation and a lot of people don’t know the drivers. A lot of our drivers sort of become like family,” Dr. Feirsen noted. “I also recall an incident from a few years ago that required us to evacuate the building. Where do those kids go? You can’t keep them on site. We were able to get our buses here in minutes. The other thing to keep in mind is that field of private transportation operators has shrunk dramatically over the course of the years. It’s like the competition with the airlines—fewer airlines means you don’t get the price breaks. The same thing is happening in private transportation.”

“Our proposed budget for next year is $4.3 million. Seven and a quarter of that is for contractual services that will continue and would be there either way,” Chase explained. “If we deducted that off the top, we’re looking at $3.5 million. I know just as a rough number, it’s at least $60,000 to contract for a bus just for four hours of service, meaning morning and back again in the evening. So $60,000 at a minimum and I believe we have 52 routes, that would be $3 million right there. The other service the staff provides as well is doing lunch monitor duty and various other tasks during the time they’re not driving the bus. So that would have to be taken up by somebody else. There may be more expense in terms of owning our own [bus fleet], but it’s not a tremendous number and that doesn’t include that if we went to a contracted situation, we’d have to contract every time we had an athletic or field trip.”

The decision was also voted on to use the subsequent budget work session on March 5 to discuss what monetary reserves the board of education has in the interest of providing transparency to the public. This would end up pushing a review of the instructional components of the budget to Tuesday, March 19 and Wednesday, April 10.

The next budget work session will be held on Tuesday, March 19.

News

Longtime village administrator to

receive President’s Award

The Garden City Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce the presentation of its President’s Award to Robert (Bob) L. Schoelle, Jr., a Garden City resident for 43 years, at the 2014 Pineapple Ball at the Garden City Hotel on Friday evening, May 9. Initiated in 2011, the Chamber of Commerce’s “President’s Award” recognizes above and beyond volunteer spirit and contributions within the Garden City community and beyond. Not an annual award, it is only presented occasionally, which makes this recognition for Schoelle all the more special.

Bob Schoelle has served as chief administrative officer of the Incorporated Village of Garden City for the past 34 years, working with 18 mayors and many boards of trustees. He has served as a member of both the Village Planning Commission and Board of Police Commissioners. His contributions to numerous village projects have contributed remarkably to the quality of life in the village.

Garvies Point hosts Waldorf parent-child program

Garvies Point Musuem and Preserve, a place known for its Native American history and artifacts, is now home to the Garden City Waldorf School’s Parent-Child Program. The location is an ideal match since the Waldorf educational philosophy enjoys many parallels with the Native American culture exhibited at the museum. The classes are held in the museum’s interactive exhibit room for children, which features a dugout canoe, a wooden wigwam, woven baskets and a model of a native garden. Since the exhibit encourages creative play with natural materials, it is a perfect fit for the Waldorf program which promotes the same.

One of the interesting features of the program is that it is in truth a parent-child class; parents are learning right alongside the children. Children are encouraged to play cooperatively with their peers, while adults learn to knit nearby. Throughout the program, parents are given advice and tips on how to slow the pace of parenting, how to deal with tantrums and manage technology in our lives. “It’s really nice to get good advice on finding a natural rhythm to our lives,” said Laura Franco of Sea Cliff. “I would say the program is very unique in that way.”


Sports

Lady Panthers

start season 7-0

The number two ranked Adelphi Panthers Women’s Lacrosse team has gotten off to a fast start to their 2014 season and show no signs of slowing down. Head Coach Rob Grella, entering his third season at the helm, has led his team to an impressive 7-0 record to kick off their campaign. Six of the Panther’s first seven games have been won in commanding fashion in which they have outscored the opposition by a staggering margin of 122-14.

Last season, the Panthers continued their tradition of playing hard and fighting off tough challenges. They would finish the 2013 season with an impressive 11-1 record within the Northeast Ten Conference and overall at 18-3, making it to their fourth consecutive trip to the NE-10 Conference Championship where they eventually lost to Le Moyne.

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 hunts 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.


Calendar

Dinner & A Movie: An Inconvenient Truth

Thursday, April 10

Breakfast With The Easter Bunny

Saturday, April 12

'Needleworks' Exhibit Opens

Through April 30



Columns

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

Sustainable LI: Getting Good Things Done
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

LI’s ‘Most Prominent Lady In Politics’
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com