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Heading Into The Final Turn

Last public hearing held for school budget

With the vote for the 2014-15 Garden City Public School District budget on the horizon, the board of education held its final public hearing on Tuesday, May 13. Superintendent of Garden City Schools Dr. Robert Feirsen delivered a presentation to review and highlight information before the upcoming public vote.

With a proposed overall 2014-15 budget of $109,407,138, budget-to-budget increase of 1.68 percent ($1.8 million), projected tax levy increase (with STAR) of 1.57 percent, which is also the maximum allowable tax levy increase, Feirsen spoke about the impact of a 2009 school investment bond.

“It has been asked of me that if we didn’t have the bond debt service, what would the budget-to-budget look like,” Feirsen said, explaining that without it, the decrease would be said the decrease would be 0.67 percent as opposed to an increase of 1.57 percent.

“That’s a simplistic explanation—debt service is an exclusion to the tax levy cap, so if removed, ours would increase significantly,” Feirsen said. “Also, the funds you save from debt service, you can't give them to any other program—it's not like you can take the money from debt service and give it somewhere else.”

Feirsen went over budget drivers, which found the district’s Teachers Retirement System (TRS) increasing by $705,002 and the Employee Retirement System (ERS) increasing by $95,771—a grand total of $800,771.

“About half of the tax increase comes from those two mandated increases,” Feirsen said, displaying the impact on the budget at 0.74 percent and the tax impact at 0.82 percent. The total budget impact of 1.72 percent and tax impact of 1.91 percent includes other benefits and debt service.

As for instructional staffing for 2014-15, there is a net proposed total teacher reduction of 10.5 full-time employees (FTE), and the budget also includes 1.0 FTE teacher position in general education and 1.0 FTE teacher position in special education to be held in reserve to address possible enrollment increases at any level.

Total staff reductions amount to 11.5 FTE, with the addition of 1.0 grade six teacher due to an enrollment increase.

The rationale for reductions of 1.0 teachers at Homestead, grade one; Locust, grade one and Stewart, grade four, as well as 2.0 fourth and fifth grade teachers at Stratford is decreased enrollment. Other reduction factors include scheduling efficiencies and an increase in grade two to five class size maximum to 26.

Examining a comparison of per-pupil costs from a list the district uses of comparative districts, Feirsen showed data gathered by Quester III BOCES, placing Garden City at $18,013, which is the 9th lowest compared to districts such as Great Neck ($28,801) and Roslyn ($20,952), and only above Herricks’ $17,256 per-pupil cost.

Feirsen shared a study by Seethroughny.net showing Garden City as slightly over $600 for administrative costs per-pupil, placing well below Bronxville and Locust Valley of nearly $1,200, and displayed a comparison of Nassau County tax rates ranking Garden City as no. 48 with $598.21.

Highlighting certain aspects of the budget, Feirsen pointed out that the budget is under the cap, therefore requiring only a simple majority for passage.

“We are preserving the robust high school academic program that prepares our students for college, continuing to provide resources for technology upgrades, maintaining the school board’s commitment to FLES (Foreign Language in the Elementary School), and including funds for possible security upgrades,” Fierson said.

Feirsen pointed out that while the district is maintaining its commitment to FLES, a reduction of 2.0 FLES teachers is proposed in their instructional staffing, with the rationale of it being a program reduction as FLES will remain in grades four and five. The program currently operates from grades two through five.

Feirsen said the district's proposed budget is also maintaining special education services and reducing personnel costs.

Also from seethroughny.net, Feirsen showed that Garden City receives less state aid per-pupil than similar districts, admitting, “I don’t have a great explanation for that—the formulas for state aid are very convoluted.”

Garden City was displayed as receiving roughly $1,239 in state aid per pupil, while Herricks receives close to $2,500, Rockville Centre receives slightly over $2,000 and Syosset slightly over $1,500.

Should the budget not pass, Feirsen explained that the district will adopt a contingency budget, whereby under the new tax levy cap law, it would have a zero percent tax levy cap.

“This means we could not collect any more revenue through property taxes than is collected this year—this would require a reduction of approximately $1.75 million from the budget,” Feirsen said. “All contractual and debt service obligations for 2014-15 would remain in effect, and all contingent budget rules would still apply.”

With no questions from any school board members and a short clarification question from one resident attending, Feirsen closed the hearing by urging everyone in the district to vote on May 20.

“I’ve heard from people that there really isn’t much to do about the budget, it is what it is, and that could not be further from the truth—I encourage everyone to exercise their democratic right to vote and register their opinion through the ballot box,” Feirsen said.

News

North Shore-LIJ’s Cushing Neuroscience Institute (CNI) recently announced that Garden City resident Richard E. Temes, MD, MS, has been appointed director of the Center for Neurocritical Care at North Shore University Hospital and assistant professor of neurology, neurological surgery and internal medicine at the Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine.

“Dr. Temes is a nationally recognized leader in neurocritical care and we are delighted to have him on board to spearhead our efforts in further expanding the neurocritical care services program,” said Raj K. Narayan, MD, chair of neurosurgery at North Shore University Hospital and Long Island Jewish Medical Center and CNI’s director. For the past seven years, Dr. Temes served as director of the neurocritical care program he founded at Rush Medical Center in Chicago, Ill. He also served as the hospital’s medical director of the Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit and as director of the Therapeutic Hypothermia Service. Under Dr. Temes’ leadership, he established Rush’s neurological emergencies transfer center, which grew to transfer 1,200 patients annually from over 30 institutions throughout southern Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and western Michigan.

‘Landscape-altering’ bug creeping north

It’s a cute little ‘bug.’ What it represents, however, is anything but cute.

An unusual-looking Volkswagen is toodling around Long Island this month. Painted to resemble the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB), the VW Beetle is part of efforts by the US Department of Agriculture to eliminate the pest, which can destroy 70 percent of an area’s tree canopy, according to the agency. Initially, officials held hope for complete eradication from about 23 square miles of the Island designated as infested or at risk by 2016. Instead, this “landcape-altering pest” is spreading.


Sports

Garden City falls to Brentwood

after beating Farmingdale

The Farmingdale Baseball League recently capped off its fourth annual 9/11 baseball tournament with a series of championship games, to ultimately determine which Long Island town reigns supreme. On Aug. 16, teams from 8U to 14U fought tooth and nail for the ultimate prize.

One of the most exciting games was the evening 14U championship match-up between the Garden City Warriors and Brentwood Braves.

Fall Roller Hockey Programs Announced

The Garden City Recreation and Parks Department will once again offer various roller hockey programs this fall for both youth & adults who reside in the Inc. Village of Garden City. Whether you played in the past or looking to get involved, there is no better time to sign up and experience all the fun. All programs take place at the roller rink located at Community Park. Please note at this time, the recreation department is just announcing its programs. Fees and registration information will be announced at a later date.

This season, the roller hockey programs are broken down into grades. Please pay careful attention as grades and dates/times have changed:


Calendar

Alice in Nanoland

Thursday, August 28

Nature’s Nighttime Noises

Saturday, August 30

Art With A French Twist

Thursday, September 11



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