As the Board of Education continues to wrestle with the proposed 1999-2000 school budget, on March 27, State Senator Carl Marcellino, Assemblyman David Sidikman and County Legislator John Canning came to Glen Cove High School and received a lesson on the unique city called Glen Cove. The three legislators and their constituents were invited to attend a "legislative breakfast" by Schools Superintendent Frank DeLuca and the members of the Glen Cove Board of Education in an all-out effort to receive more state aid, dispel the city's wealthy misnomer and to begin dismantling the double hit Glen Cove residents take in the settlement of tax certioraris. The coming together of legislators at the state and county level is a result of a meeting last month between the Board of Education, Mayor Thomas Suozzi and members of the city council. The result of that meeting was an agreement to pool each entity's resources to better serve the city's students and taxpayers. Following that initial meeting, Superintendent DeLuca, Mayor Suozzi, assistant to the superintendent for business, Dennis Lindner, and Assemblyman Sidikman met with the Assembly's Education Committee chairman, Steve Sanders, to explain the uniqueness of Glen Cove and its impact in the city's receipt of state aid.
Glen Covers came out in numbers to address the legislators- members of the Chamber of Commerce; real estate agents; Mayor Thomas Suozzi; senior citizens; parents; school district administrators and principals; city council members; the Youth Board; PTA unit presidents; and a school board candidate. Assemblyman Sidikman said the assembly chairman realized the uniqueness of Glen Cove in that the city has suffered from a continued decline in state aid, Glen Cove's certiorari hemorrhage, and the skewed combined wealth ratio. Mr. Sidikman asked Glen Cove residents to mobilize and let local government know how they feel about education and the need to ensure Glen Cove gets its fair share. State Senator Marcellino illustrated the upstate/downstate push and pull regarding almost every issue. He said a bill he and Mr. Sidikman proposed to help Glen Cove with tax certioraris was put in unsuccessfully last year and he has little hope for it this year. Legislator Canning noted the Glen Cove tax cert anomaly and said the issue needs state and county regulation. Mr. Canning was put in the hot seat in a rare bi-partisan effort by Mayor Suozzi and City Councilman John Maccarone. Glen Cove's two local leaders asked Mr. Canning to carry the ball to the county and resolve the double hit tax cert problem in what Mr. Maccarone dubbed, "taxation without representation." Mayor Suozzi added that the city council is 100 percent in agreement that Glen Cove needs more state aid. "We can no longer afford to pay certs. This is not about the upstate/downstate issue or the overall state budget issue. This is only about Glen Cove. We are completely different from everybody else and deserve special consideration. We are the only district anywhere on Long Island that pays back its tax certs. We pay everybody else's certs through county taxes and we pay our own through the district," said the mayor. Councilman Mike Norman added that Glen Cove wants to pay only its fair share.
Glen Cove residents take a double hit when paying tax certioraris. Mr. Lindner said, "As a small city school district, we are co-terminus with the city. The city is the assessing agent for the school district. When a certiorari claim is filed, property owners say that their property is overassessed compared to its value therefore they are paying too much taxes. The certiorari hearing may take several years to conclude, and during that time what happens is that when the petition was first filed is the determination of how much taxes were overpaid. In the year of the final settlement, you, (the district or the city), would have to repay from the first year the petition was filed. What hurts is the fact that you have a compounding effect from the time the tax certiorari was first filed. Glen Cove pays its own certiorari back payments, but all of the other school districts in Nassau County have their back payments paid by the county."
The Combined Wealth Ratio makes the City of Glen Cove seem wealthy and in state formulas this means less state aid. The state sees how much income tax wealth is in the community as well as how much property wealth. Each aspect gets a 50 percent weighting. The average school district in New York has a Combined Wealth Ratio, (CWR), of 1.0; for Glen Cove, the state is using 1.906 which means the city is seen as being twice as wealthy as the average school district. The number is skewed against Glen Cove because of a "few wealthy men," as Assemblyman Sidikman puts it, who offset the reality of poverty in this city. One of the barometers of poverty in Glen Cove is that 35.10 percent of all the district's children are eligible for free and reduced lunch.
Yet another factor pushing and pulling on the school budget process is the demographics of Glen Cove. The district total of ESL students is 9.30 percent. The district must provide teachers and support staff for the children to ensure their ability to pass the newly mandated Regents exams when the time comes in high school. The children in the Special Education program will also have to pass the Regents exams unless they qualify for an IEP diploma. This means that the school district must provide additional staff and support, even summer school, to ensure everything possible has been done to help the special education student pass the Regents exams.