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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

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.

Country Life Press

106 spaces

88 permit-only

3 handicapped

15 2-hour only


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