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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

Village hosts internship pilot program

The Village of Garden City is currently hosting a pilot internship program this summer for four Adelphi University students. The eight-to-10-week test run is also the first time the school has partnered with a municipality, according to its Center for Career Services.

Planning started in May when Mayor John Watras approached Village Administrator Ralph Suozzi about the possibility of hiring interns during July and August. Suozzi, who said he had student interns at his last job, said the program helps provide college students with experience in exchange for a new perspective for village officials.

Ozzie

Ozzie is a playful pup looking for a new friend to match his exuberance. He has begun basic obedience training at the shelter and so far has proven to be an “A” student. Ozzie is friendly and gets along well with other dogs. He needs an experienced companion dedicated to continuing his training.


Sports

Summer Concert Schedule

Garden City’s Department of Recreation and Parks is happy to announce the schedule of its concert series “Summer Music on the Village Green.” The concert series will be held at the gazebo on the corner of Stewart and Hilton Avenues. Concerts are held on Thursdays beginning at 7:15 pm. The schedule is as follows:

July 24    Six Gun

July 31     Tangerine

August 7    The Terry Nova Little Big Band

August 14    Vintage Bliss

To register for any of the above programs for find out further information about openings, please visit www.gardencityrecreation.org for an application or the recreation office at 108 Rockaway Ave.

The Best Secret In Town!

Did you know that each of our neighbor hood parks runs a playground program every summer? Children entering 1st through 8th grades who are residents of the Village are invited to come to the park during the summer to find out what activities are taking place.

Each park has its own “flavor” and “favorite” activities. The park directors and their staff run games, sports, tournaments, and arts and crafts activities during the day and into the evening. Trips are also run through the parks.  


Calendar

Summer Concert: Tangerine

Thursday, July 31

Friday Night Promenade Continues

Friday, August 1

Marvelous Movie Matinee

Monday, August 4



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