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State Aid Sees Slight Bump

New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed $137 billion spending plan will increase education aid by $807 million for the 2014-15 school year, but school officials say it will still put them up against the wall. Based on the preliminary budget figures, the Garden City School District will receive $91,724 more than last year, or a total of $4,517,020—an increase of 2.07 percent.

While every bit of monetary assistance from the state helps, state mandated costs have essentially remained the same, while cost of living has increased. It's a factor  School Superintendent Dr. Robert Feirsen feels this amount of aid fails to address.  

“We are greatly disappointed with the governor’s budget proposal. It once again fails to recognize the high cost of living on Long Island or offer any significant relief from mandates," he explained.  "In addition, the budget proposal fails to restore Garden City’s state aid to the level it received in 2008-09.  Combined with the anticipated low tax levy cap for the coming year, the budget proposal, if enacted, will make it much more difficult to sustain the programs that have made Garden City a leading school district in the country."   

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 two years ago, there are other expenses that the district has to contend with.

“We’re being demanded by the state to move online testing for our students, which requires tremendous infrastructure changes and purchases and acquisitions of technology,” Feirsen explained last year.

A technology task force that was formed in the last year and made up of a few dozen faculty members, students and residents recently gave the results of a report urging the need for expenditures for new laptops/tablets, staff development and wireless licensing.

Using the preliminary budget numbers, the state Department of Education has calculated estimates of how much state aid will be allocated to each individual school district. Of the $807 million increase, the state education department estimates a $24.2 million increase for school districts in Nassau County. The $807 million proposed in the executive budget drives an average increase of nearly $300 per student.

The executive budget also allocates $1.5 billion, over a five-year period, to fund a statewide universal full-day pre-K program, $720 million over five years to expand after-school programs, and proposes a $2 billion Smart Schools Bond Act to ensure students have access to the latest technology needed to compete on the global stage.  These fiduciary shortcomings are something Feirsen hopes to get help addressing from local politicians.

"We hope that our representatives in the Legislature in Albany will recognize the fiscal stresses experienced by Garden City and all other Long Island school districts and then make significant adjustments to the Governor’s aid figures," he said.

Dave Gil de Rubio contributed to this story

News

Garden City environmental group

participates at expo

More than 2,000 Long Islanders enjoyed the festivities at Captree State Park as Assemblyman Joseph Saladino hosted the ninth annual Marine and Outdoor Recreation Expo on Sept. 15.

Attendees learned about sustainable sources of energy as well as ways to protect the planet, especially the island’s marine environment from people like local environmentalist Betsy Gulotta. There were demonstrations in camping, boating, water safety, renewable energy, wildlife and environmental education, fly fishing, arts and crafts, face painting, clowns, touch tanks, balloon animals and plenty of rock and roll.

September is Library Card Sign-up Month

Back to school means back to the Garden City Public Library. September is not only back to school month, it is also Library Card Sign-up Month. A library card is the most important school supply of all for both students and their parents. This September be sure your library card is in your wallet. If you don’t have one, sign up for a new one for you and for your children.

The Garden City Public Library offers programs for adults and for children of all ages. In addition, the library provides access to an extensive collection of books, periodicals, music CDs, audiobooks, and DVDS. The library also provides online access through its website www.gardencitypl.org to authoritative electronic databases as well as to downloadable eBooks, audiobooks, and music. With a valid library card, you can register for programs, borrow materials and museum passes, and access electronic resources.


Sports

The league started on Saturday, Sept. 13 at Garden City’s Tullamore Park. It runs from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. A uniform shirt and soccer balls are provided. Cleats and soccer shorts are recommended and players must wear shin guards. Age groups range from pre-k through 12th grade. Garden City residents and non-Garden City residents are welcome. Middle school and high school age volunteers are needed. No soccer experience is necessary. If you have any other questions, please contact Andy Garger at ajgarger@verizon.net or 516-775-8058.

— Submitted by the Challenger Soccer League

2014-15 Garden City Recreation Department Dance Conservatory

The Garden City Recreation Department’s Dance Conservatory Program is pleased to announce the start of registration for its upcoming 2014-15 season. Director Felicia Lovaglio, along with Mary Searson and the rest of her staff, are excited to start off another fantastic year. The dance conservatory offers classes to Garden City residents ages 3 through adult which are non-performance based. Age is determined by the start date of the desired class. The schedule and fees for this year’s youth classes are as follows (all classes are 55 minutes long unless otherwise noted):

Note: Registration is by mail only until Sept. 23. Participants MUST be the required age by the start of the program in order to register. Each session costs $220 for 22 weeks of class.


Calendar

Village Board of Trustees Meeting

Thursday, October 2

Benefit Yard Sale Goes To The Birds

Saturday, October 4

Marvelous Movie Matinée

Monday, October 6



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
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