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Getting A Gold Star

School district fiscals

receives zero stress rating

The Garden School District recently received a “zero stress” rating by the Office of the New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli in a fiscal stress test.

Announced at a Garden City Board of Education meeting on Tuesday evening, Jan. 14, Assistant Superintendent for Business Dana DiCapua described the rating as “strictly a snapshot based on a series of calculations having to do with where the district is financially.”

DiCapua said a fiscal stress test, which will be performed annually, was given to districts across the state, and was based on a series of parameters and an algorithm formed by the comptroller’s office.

While pleased with the news, Trustee Robert Martin questioned the merits of the “stress free” rating, saying, “how can they honestly say that any school district is stress free when we are under the restrictions of a cap on revenues, under restrictions under the percentage of revenues we can hold—none of which make any reasonable, fiscal sense.”

DiCapua responded by saying the results indicate that the district’s fund balance is “where they [NY State Comptroller] want it to be,” reserves are not over funded or under funded, and the district’s cash is “being handled in a correct manner.”

Superintendent of Garden City Schools Dr. Robert Feirsen expressed an understanding and appreciation for the rating, saying, “it’s a sign of good fiscal management—meaning we’re using our resources prudently,” however agreed with Martin by saying, “we’re not a stress free district.”

To coincide with the news of a stress free rating, DiCapua announced that the district was successful in refinancing one of their construction bonds, from the low fours to an interest rate of 1.46, which the district will see a savings of slightly under $194,000.

In other news

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Teresa Prendergast spoke on recent news of the federal government granting a waver to the New York State Education Department to eliminate “double testing.”

“In previous years, eighth grade students who accelerated in mathematics and who were enrolled in a regents algebra course, were required to not only sit for the grade eight math assessment, but also for the algebra regents exam in the spring,” Prendergast said.  “We look forward to the fact that beginning this spring, our eighth grade students who are accelerated in mathematics and will be currently sitting for common core algebra one curriculum, will not need to sit for the grade eight math assessments.”

For the district’s middle school, where students are predominantly located for acceleration, Prendergast said will be a “welcome relief,” where 58 percent of the eighth grade are accelerated in mathematics.

“It’s one less state assessment they have to sit for,” Prendergast said.