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Tweaking Numbers And Cutting Staff

Budget adjustments, staff reductions recommended

The Garden City Board of Education will prepare to adopt next year’s school budget in a couple of weeks. Before they do, they’ll have to go over a few changes.

At the board’s public work session held at the high school on Wednesday, April 9, school superintendent Dr. Robert Feirsen recommended a few adjustments, part of the annual balancing act that is the school budget.

“We have the needs of our students, and the desire of the board representing the community to provide them with the most comprehensive, the richest programs possible,” Feirsen said.

“On the other hand, we have to balance that with the understanding that resources are limited.”

Feirsen was referring to the maximum allowable tax levy of 1.57 percent. A budget at or below the levy will require a simple majority to pass (50 percent of the vote +1). Or, a budget requiring a levy above the limit can be proposed, which would require a board resolution and a super majority (60 percent voter approval).

Working right at that limit, a $109.4 million budget has been proposed, up over $1.8 million from last year.

Dr. Feirsen is proposing adjustments because property tax increases are severely constrained by the tax levy cap, and because the district receives relatively little in federal ‘Title’ money, which is based on demographics, i.e. community wealth.

On the flip side there has been a slight increase in state aid to the district.

The recommended adjustments include staff reductions, largely due to enrollment decreases and the rise in maximum class-size in grades 2-5.

There would be a net reduction of 10.5 full-time equivalent staff (FTE). There would also be FTE reductions in library media and school nurse staff.

In the latter, there would be a .25 FTE reduction of a part-time nurse in each elementary school.

Resident Margie Rydzewski has issue with that reduction. Her daughter has juvenile diabetes and is currently a high school sophomore. She has another child currently attending Stewart. She believes even a slight reduction in the nursing staff could be an issue.

“I feel that any decrease is a danger to the safety of the children, and this mistake could affect the health, safety and ultimately the lives of our most precious asset, our children,” Rydzewski said.

Feirsen says he feels the nursing adjustment is appropriate given the low enrollment in the elementary schools. Also, a .5 ‘flex’ nurse is being added, to split time between Stewart and Stratford. That staffer would assist with routine duties, allowing the full-timer to tend to more pressing matters.

Feirsen admits it’s an imperfect solution, but says the board is in a no-win situation: either cut services, or try to override the tax cap, which would appear to deprive residents of tax relief, possibly leading to the budget being voted down.

“I can’t say this strong enough—there is no additional money... people think, in a $109 million budget, you’ve got to be able to find an extra $20,000 here or there,” he said. “It is not available, we have struck this budget to the greatest extent possible.”

The next key date will be Wednesday, April 23 at the high school, where the board will vote whether to adopt the budget. A public hearing will be held on May 13, with the vote occurring on May 20.

News

The Senior Advisory Committee is the Senior group that helps plan trips, parties, and programs for all seniors in cooperation with the recreation and parks department. It consists of: Kathy Auro, Richard Bankowsky, Evelyn Iagrossi, Joe Leto, Ellen Moynahan, and Gloria Weinrich. Please feel free to suggest trips to anyone on the committee.

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.


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