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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

In an earlier column, Mayor John Watras shared some helpful tips on how to secure your property in preparation for a hurricane. The following are additional recommendations on what you can do now to be prepared in the event that a major storm hits Long Island.

As the storm approaches, customers should take the following steps to prepare for the arrival of either a hurricane or tropical storm:

New online company debuts

Two Long Island childhood friends, Scott Reich and Michael Winik, recently left their respective careers as an attorney and investment banker to pursue their dream of starting a business together, online food market OurHarvest.

“When Mike and I decided to start a business, we knew it had to reflect our shared love of food, address the lifestyles of our fellow Long Islanders, and be socially responsible,” said Reich.


Sports

Stretching tips for the high school athlete

Prior to the start of high school running season, Garden City’s Physical Therapy Options (PTO) had an opportunity to provide a presentation to members of Sacred Heart Academy’s cross country team. Team members gathered at Garden City’s New York Running Company to learn strategies and tips for a successful fall season.

PTO staff members Dr. Meghan Goetz, Doctor of Physical Therapy, and PTO Aide Mike Murphy discussed the importance of stretching to prevent injury and provided strategies and tips for success for the high school runner.

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


Calendar

Financial Options For Students

Thursday, October 16

Kids In The Kitchen

Friday, October 17

Marvelous Movie Matinée

Monday, October 20



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