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Getting A Gold Star

School district fiscals

receives zero stress rating

The Garden School District recently received a “zero stress” rating by the Office of the New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli in a fiscal stress test.

Announced at a Garden City Board of Education meeting on Tuesday evening, Jan. 14, Assistant Superintendent for Business Dana DiCapua described the rating as “strictly a snapshot based on a series of calculations having to do with where the district is financially.”

DiCapua said a fiscal stress test, which will be performed annually, was given to districts across the state, and was based on a series of parameters and an algorithm formed by the comptroller’s office.

While pleased with the news, Trustee Robert Martin questioned the merits of the “stress free” rating, saying, “how can they honestly say that any school district is stress free when we are under the restrictions of a cap on revenues, under restrictions under the percentage of revenues we can hold—none of which make any reasonable, fiscal sense.”

DiCapua responded by saying the results indicate that the district’s fund balance is “where they [NY State Comptroller] want it to be,” reserves are not over funded or under funded, and the district’s cash is “being handled in a correct manner.”

Superintendent of Garden City Schools Dr. Robert Feirsen expressed an understanding and appreciation for the rating, saying, “it’s a sign of good fiscal management—meaning we’re using our resources prudently,” however agreed with Martin by saying, “we’re not a stress free district.”

To coincide with the news of a stress free rating, DiCapua announced that the district was successful in refinancing one of their construction bonds, from the low fours to an interest rate of 1.46, which the district will see a savings of slightly under $194,000.

In other news

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Teresa Prendergast spoke on recent news of the federal government granting a waver to the New York State Education Department to eliminate “double testing.”

“In previous years, eighth grade students who accelerated in mathematics and who were enrolled in a regents algebra course, were required to not only sit for the grade eight math assessment, but also for the algebra regents exam in the spring,” Prendergast said.  “We look forward to the fact that beginning this spring, our eighth grade students who are accelerated in mathematics and will be currently sitting for common core algebra one curriculum, will not need to sit for the grade eight math assessments.”

For the district’s middle school, where students are predominantly located for acceleration, Prendergast said will be a “welcome relief,” where 58 percent of the eighth grade are accelerated in mathematics.

“It’s one less state assessment they have to sit for,” Prendergast said.

News

Preparedness is the best remedy for Ebola

Winthrop University Hospital hosted a presentation on the current Ebola epidemic, at the Garden City Library, on Tuesday, Nov. 11. Sponsored by the village’s Property Owners’ Associations, John F. Collins, president and CEO of Winthrop University Hospital and Dr. Michael Ammazzalorso, Winthrop’s Chief Medical Officer provided an overview of the disease along with an update on Winthrop’s preparedness plan.

Dr. Ammazzalorso began his presentation heeding that despite the waning in the press, the disease is still with us. He provided both historical and current day perspectives regarding the epidemic, advising that Ebola is not a new disease. The medical community has been aware of the disease for at least 40 years. Originating in the Congo, Ebola is a zoonosis a disease which has its reservoir in animals and was known for small sporadic outbreaks associated with people who handled bats and rodents or those who consumed bush meat. The current outbreak originated in West Africa, specifically Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. He noted in Africa that more than 45,000 people have died from the disease.

Multiple options help village avoid problems

While parking around LIRR train stations is typically a challenge, even on a regular work day, it’s not necessarily the case for Garden City residents, who have five departure points to choose from. The stations—Nassau Boulevard, Garden City, Stewart Manor, Country Life Press and the south side of Merillon Avenue—provide a grand total of 866 spots. (See page 13 sidebar for lot-by-lot breakdown). It’s a luxury many municipalities don’t have, particularly during the holidays. Annual permits run $150 for residents and $300 for non-residents and while people who call Garden City can use any of these five stations, non-residents are restricted to using the 70 spots allocated for their use over at the Stewart Manor station.

LIRR spokesman Salvatore Arena said that ridership between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day increases by at least 10 percent; last year it was by 12 percent. Though the MTA is adding more trains to the schedule, that doesn’t ease the parking situation, which is operated not by the LIRR, but by individual municipalities in each town.


Sports

Learn And Play Paddle Tennis

The recreation and parks department will offer beginner level platform tennis lessons at Community Park’s Platform Courts. This five-week course will offer the basic instruction and will be taught by certified platform instructor Sue Tarzian. Each class will be 1.5 hours in length. The cost of this program is $187.50. Classes began the week of Nov. 5. The following classes will be offered:

Beginners - Wednesdays at 7 p.m.

Advanced Beginners – Thursdays at 10:30 a.m.

This program is for beginners only and participants must be Garden City residents. To register, visit the recreation office at 108 Rockaway Ave.

Learn And Play Paddle Tennis

The recreation and parks department will offer beginner level platform tennis lessons at Community Park’s Platform Courts. This five-week course will offer the basic instruction and will be taught by certified platform instructor Sue Tarzian. Each class will be 1.5 hours in length. The cost of this program is $187.50. Classes begin the week of Nov. 5. The following classes will be offered:

Beginners - Wednesdays at 7 p.m.

Advanced Beginners – Thursdays at 10:30 a.m.

This program is for beginners only and participants must be Garden City residents. To register, please visit the recreation office at 108 Rockaway Ave. Space is limited so please register early.


Calendar

Sultans of String to play

Friday, November 21

Garden City Chamber Music Society Performance

Sunday, November 23

Marvelous Movie Matinée

Monday, November 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