The Glen Cove Board of Education met on May 22 to consider three options available to them following the failure of next year's proposed $47,789,674 school budget at the polls. Interim superintendent of schools Dr. Eliot Garfinkel said he had evaluated the results of the vote held on May 16. "The turnout was not very heavy and the budget went down by just about 200 votes. There was misinformation throughout the community and in Newsday which caused confusion. Any cut in the budget as proposed would significantly impact programs for the children. I recommend we go out with the same budget," said Dr. Garfinkel. The interim superintendent said the objective is to get out more "yes" votes and make it clear that the estimated tax increase will be 6.2 percent.
The budget will be offered to voters on June 20 with polls open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. (note the earlier morning hour). The other two options the board had were to revise the budget and take it to the polls or to immediately declare austerity. On austerity, items that will be removed as required by law would be equipment, ($300,000), and capital projects, ($145,000). On top of that, the district must fall within the overall budget cap with exclusions. According to the assistant to the superintendent for business, Frank Fiumano, the cap is 2.64 percent of the current year's budget as adjusted for tax certs and debt service. "Once the adjustment is made, the total allowable budget before excludable items becomes $44,142,005. By law we can add to that number costs due to increased enrollment, ($400,000); as well as $1,750,000 for tax certs and $902,348 for debt service. The total allowable budget becomes $47,194,353," said Mr. Fiumano. Essentially, the board of education can put in place an austerity budget which is $595,321 lower than that defeated at the polls on May 16.
Dr. Garfinkel added that some of the following programs and services may very well be cut from the budget: summer school, driver's education, an allocation for a computer technician, supplies and materials for the high school television station. Possibly in jeopardy is the use of school buildings and fields by outside agencies such as the City of Glen Cove Summer Camp Program, La Fuerza Unida's summer day care program, and the use of fields by any sports organizations, city or private.
The misinformation alluded to by Dr. Garfinkel was the mailing and flyer saturation of Glen Cove by supporters of school board member-elect Dr. Rodger Silletti. The campaign material claimed a 9 percent school tax increase despite assertions by the board of education that the estimated tax increase was more likely 6.2 percent. The 6.2 figure became more of a reality once an added $1,110,000 in state aid was announced by Glen Cove's representatives in Albany and the assessed valuation of property, projected to Aug. 1, 2000, was given at $71,000,843 by the City of Glen Cove.
The board members voted 5-2 in favor of offering the budget a second chance. Board members Bill Boeddener and Phil Enright voted against interim superintendent Dr. Eliot Garfinkel's recommendation. Mr. Boeddener reiterated his position of the last several years regarding the budget. He said he will never support a budget which contains payment of membership dues, ($2,900 this year), to what he calls the nefarious Association of Small City School Districts which he says took away the basic Constitutional right to vote on school budgets some 14 years ago. Mr. Enright said voting on the budget should be an exercise of trade-offs between the needs of the schools and the needs of the community. "I put more value on the community,"said Mr. Enright.
As the board continued their discussion regarding the budget, board member Dr. Jeff Spector asked his fellow members if they saw anything in the budget that should be cut. Mr. Boeddener asked for the $2,900 to be removed and Mr. Enright said, "So as not to be accused of not offering ideas, I would have to go down line by line and [what I suggest] probably wouldn't be approved anyway." Board member Carol Sucharski asked Mr. Enright why he didn't go through the budget and make cut suggestions from the day the board was given the spending plan. "We've worked on this since February, meeting after meeting, public hearings, work sessions, " said Mrs. Sucharski. Mr. Enright cited the line item for public information as a possible cut, which Mrs. Sucharski found to be ludicrous since Mr. Enright voted to approve the contract for the public relations firm.
School board president Vito Abbondandolo asked if bonding cert payments would be an option in an effort to lower the tax rate. Board member Bob Lupinskie was the only one to respond to that issue. "We have to look at the three-year phase-in of reassessment and get closure. I don't see bonding the certs until we see the reassessment," said Mr. Lupinskie. He then added, "I'm not happy we have to have a second vote but we have to give the kids a second shot by trying again. This is a good budget."
The other order of business conducted by the Board of Education was to appoint Dr. Mary Ellen Freeley to the position of Superintendent of Glen Cove Schools. Dr. Freeley will begin on July 1, 2000 and will have a three-year contract.
Dr. Freeley comes to Glen Cove having served in the following positions: Superintendent of Schools in Carle Place from 1995 until now; assistant superintendent of Carle Place Schools from 1990-1995; district supervisor and principal in the Malverne School District from 1987-1990; Director of Elementary Education at the College of Mount St. Vincent 1984-1987; teaching fellow at St. John's University from 1981-1984; adjunct faculty at St. Joseph's College from 1975-1981 and elementary teacher in P.S. 81 K, Manhattan, from 1967-1971. Dr. Freeley holds a bachelor of arts from St. Joseph's College in child study/English; a master's degree from Queens College in early childhood education/English and her doctorate from St. John's University in administrative and educational leadership.
Dr. Freeley is the third superintendent of Glen Cove schools to be appointed within the last nine years. She has a strong background in curriculum development and was the curriculum coordinator for Carle Place during her tenure as superintendent.
Other School News
The Record-Pilot recently learned that the board of education has given notice to Dr. Ingrid Spatt, the assistant to the superintendent for curriculum, instruction and grants. Her contract stipulates she has two years to find another position.