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GC Budget Talks Involve Fight to Keep TV2

Dr. Laria: ‘The Sky Is Falling… Cannot Give What We Do Not Have’

Landing Elementary School played host to the Glen Cove Board of Education Meeting on Monday night, where academic achievements were honored, community mentors were recognized and the board of education was given a special nod of appreciation for all the hard work its members do. Trustees Joel Sunshine and Richard Maccarone were absent from the meeting.

The Glen Cove School District recognized AP scholars at the meeting, as each of the 29 students were called forth by Glen Cove High School Vice Principal Sheryl Goodine to accept a certificate of achievement. Since many students had already returned to their college campuses, several parents stepped in to accept the awards.

Next, the board recognized 45 mentors in the community in honor of National Mentoring Month.

“Each of you serves as a positive role model for the children you mentor, and you should all rest easy knowing you make a difference in the lives of our children,” said Interim Superintendent Dr. Joseph A. Laria.

The PTA Council presented a token of thanks to the board of education for the hard work that they do – a gift certificate for the Glen Cove Bagel Café.

During public comment, Zefy Christopoulos suggested that the annual meeting recognizing AP students be held earlier in the month of January in the future, when all the kids are home from school.

“I love all you moms, but I’d rather see the kids in the paper,” she said.

Board President Ida McQuair said that it had originally been scheduled for an earlier date, but that public meeting had been canceled due to the current search for a new superintendent of schools.

Next, Glen Cove resident Steve Tripp brought up an agenda item regarding the termination of a TV Studio teacher, effective at the end of the month.

“It’s a terrible mistake to not have a TV studio. Glen Cove has always been cutting edge and it’s a shame to lose it,” he said.

Another woman stood up and said that her husband, who grew up in Glen Cove, is one of the most sought after videographers in the country, and since so many TV productions are out of New York, it’s a very important class to have to give kids the skills for a future career.

A student at Glen Cove High School who said he is currently taking TV1 said he wants to follow television production as a career path. “If you take away TV2, I’ll be left with two free periods, and not get to follow what I want to do,” he said.

Resident Donna Brady said, “My son is studying documentary filmmaking at American University and that would not be possible without this program. Do not shut the door on this yet.”

Another resident mentioned that having a TV studio benefits the district as well as being a career path for the kids. Without the studio, sports events and school plays would not be recorded.

Dan Cox, who used to assistant teach the TV production course and is currently director of broadcasting at C.W. Post said, “I don’t know what you’re going to save from cutting it, but you will put a huge dent in the program if you do. Please reconsider and do the right thing.”

“Why are you terminating the class mid-year?” another resident wanted to know.

Dr. Laria explained that the course manual clearly states that electives can be removed from the schedule due to enrollment and fiscal restraints. In this case, only seven students had enrolled in the course for the spring semester.

“Just because it’s there doesn’t mean it will be offered,” he said. He acknowledged all the comments and said he recognizes that the issue of scheduling needs to be tightened. Then he spoke to the issue at hand and offered an explanation for the cuts.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the sky is falling,” he began. “You are advocating a special interest and that’s wonderful. However, the state has a $10 billion deficit and growing. We anticipate major state cuts for next year, and a property tax cap. There will be no federal stimulus money – that’s $1.2 million gone. We are experiencing enormous increases in health care, retirement contributions and tax certioraris that we did not have last year.

“For this year, we now have to pay $85,000 more a month in health insurance that was not accounted for in the current budget. That brings the total health care cost to $9 million a year. This is the worst I’ve ever seen in my entire career.

“If the community doesn’t step up to the plate and take care of our facilities, we will have a major crisis on our hands in 4-6 years. We are cutting spending now so we don’t have a deficit in June. We understand everything that was said here tonight, but where do we go? How do we get out? We cannot give what we do not have.”

The board has already started budget discussions in executive sessions and will begin public meetings on the matter in March.