The first day of school for the 2012-2013 school year for children in the Great Neck School District will be Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2012. It had been anticipated that school would have to start the week before Labor Day due to a state mandated decision to end the Regents exams earlier in June. And with the state mandated number of school days determining state aid, Superintendent of Schools Thomas Dolan had the monumental task of “finding” a way to include the number of days while still maintaining a quality education and satisfying parents’ concerns over already planned vacations.
“We will be off all significant religious holidays and all student vacations,” Dr. Dolan announced at the Feb. 6 school board public action meeting, He added, too, that school for students would not begin until after Labor Day.
“I get the sense that dollars being cut, this savings, is the driving issue behind the police precinct closings,” stated North Hempstead Town Supervisor Jon Kaiman. In an interview with Anton Community Newspapers following a town-hosted meeting last week, where Supervisor Kaiman invited local officials to hear the county present its plan, the supervisor emphasized his concern that “we are sacrificing public safety for the wrong reasons.”
Supervisor Kaiman invited Nassau County officials to North Hempstead Town Hall to present the county plan to close four police precincts. The meeting, held last Wednesday morning, Feb. 8, at North Hempstead Town Hall, was an opportunity for the county to speak to its plan before a group of town and village officials. The supervisor said that local officials “had many questions and concerns about the controversial plan.” Over 20 villages were represented through their mayors and trustees, while state and federal legislators also sent representatives to the meeting.
Members of the public will have another month to read the Draft Environmental Impact Study (DEIS) before the Village of Great Neck Board of Zoning Appeals rules on whether or not it is complete. Board members were prepared to vote on the matter last Thursday, but it was determined during the meeting that a legal notice of the meeting should have been printed in this paper. The study and the opinions from the villages’ experts, H2M, an engineering firm; VHB, an environmental firm and Frederick P. Clarke, a planning firm are available at the Main library.
Questions were raised about the developer’s ownership of the entire parcel, the validity of the sound study and the reliability of the erosion and runoff methods to be used and its potential impact on Udalls Pond currently being dredged and environmentally restored.
Spokesperson Kim Riddle from the U.S. Department of Transportation has provided the Record with the following update of the situation at the USMMA:
A broken air duct in the Barry Hall ventilation system permitted exhaust and fumes from the gas-fired hot water heating system to be spread through the building, instead of being expelled from the chimney as designed. The exhaust and fumes included a combination of soot, carbon monoxide, and unburned natural gas. The noxious odor of the natural gas was detected by the midshipmen and prompted them to evacuate. The entire ventilation system must be cleaned of soot before being returned to normal operation.
The negative air pressure situation that the broken duct created in the mechanical room caused the hot water heating system to operate improperly and severely damage itself. The hot water heating system must be replaced. Engineers are working on a modern replacement system.
The Sephardic Heritage Alliance, Inc. invites the public to attend an environmental forum on the topic “Protecting Your Home Against Contaminants” on Thursday, Feb. 9 at 8 p.m. in the multipurpose room at the Saddle Rock School, 10 Hawthorne Lane.
SHAI’s Environmental Committee Chairman Michael Harounian says, “In the past, our forums have focused on water and energy conservation. This time we are looking at contaminants in the environment and how to protect our families from them. We are concerned about the plume of contamination on the north end of the Peninsula that is moving underground in our aquifer. How is it affecting our water supply? Our air quality? Should we be concerned that fumes from it might come through our basements? And we know that there are things we can do to make our homes healthier too. So, we have some experts who can help us understand how to protect our homes and businesses and give us accurate information. Everyone is invited...the more we know, the better we can advocate for a good environmental cleanup.”
Having proposed a school calendar for the 2012-2013 school year at the Jan. 24 school board meeting, Superintendent of Schools Thomas Dolan and the Great Neck Public Schools Board of Education decided to hold off on a final decision. Schools generally open in the days following Labor Day. For next year, Dr. Dolan explained that, due to a very early state mandated Regents exam schedule, the schools must close on June 21 and one option would be to start school the week before Labor Day. It was also noted that many religious holidays, where school is traditionally closed, occur this year during the week, adding more school closings. This highly controversial issue took up much of the meeting, with parents offering several suggestions, including the elimination of other vacation days.
The calendar proposal calls for school to begin Wednesday, Aug. 29, with school open the next day, Thursday, Aug. 30, but closed on Friday, Aug. 31. Dr. Dolan stated that he tried to find the best solutions for all, and the best way to maintain the integrity of the school district’s educational programs. In order for the district to obtain state aid, a specific number of days must be school days (180). However the Great Neck Teachers Association contract calls for 182 days, with two extra staff conference days (considered days that schools are open, but students do not attend). As a result, the district must find two more schools days to add.
The campus of the United States Merchant Marine Academy with its breathtaking views of Long Island Sound, its stately buildings and grand history is a source of pride in Great Neck. We see the midshipmen jogging through our streets, volunteering for community projects and enjoy hearing their marching band in local parades. The haunting sound of taps being played at night echoes through quiet streets in Kings Point. Graduation days have brought high officials here, including former President George W. Bush, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and many other dignitaries.
For the last several years, questions and rumors about the fiscal health and welfare of the Academy have surfaced and circulated and then gone dormant. But the recent evacuation of 39 midshipmen, who were rescued from a dorm with dangerous levels of carbon monoxide, underscored the timeliness of having those questions answered.
Had the odorless, colorless, deadly gas been emitted from the faulty water heater after midnight, the story might have been tragic. There were no CO detectors installed in the dorms even though colleges and universities across the country are required to have them. Federal facilities are exempt from state and local laws governing such safeguards. Now, they have been installed at the Academy.
(Editor’s note: Interim Superintendent Dr. Shashi Kumar gave the following answers to a list of questions submitted by the Great Neck Record.)
GNR: What has been the trend for the last five years for the operating budget for the Academy? Specifics, please.
Dr. Kumar: The Academy’s operating budget has generally increased over the past five years. The operating budget has increased over 28 percent since fiscal year 2008.
GNR: Has money been appropriated by Congress for capital infrastructure improvements at the Academy? If so, how much?
Dr. Kumar: Yes. The amounts appropriated each year by Congress for capital infrastructure improvement are reflected in the table below.
Perplexed and upset residents, many of whom attended a meeting on the same topic in 2004, expressed their dismay that the proposal to rezone the northeast corner of Great Neck Estates from commercial to multifamily has arisen from what they thought was a graveyard of bad ideas.
Mayor David Fox tried to quell the residents and keep them focused on listing the topics of their concerns so that the environmental impact study to be done by the applicant, GN Properties, LLC, will be comprehensive and thorough in its scope. The mayor said, “There have been no approvals...this is not a discussion about the merits of such a project...the board wants to go through the SEQRA (State Environmental Quality Review Act) process and this is the first step.” Village attorney Tom Levin confirmed, “The board wants to hear what the public wants to see studied..then the board will establish the list of items to be included in the study.”
The year 2012 is still in its infancy, but an issue that dates back years in New York State and other states, is dominating its first steps into the New Year. Local municipalities and school districts will work to get under the inaugural 2 percent property tax cap that was enacted by Governor Andrew Cuomo in June.
La Marmite in Williston Park went from a fine dining restaurant to debating ground on Jan. 10. The Nassau County Village Officials Association (NCVOA), New York Conference of Mayors (NYCOM) and the State Comptroller’s Office hammered out the issues and implications on the property tax cap and its affect on municipalities.
The tax cap limits the increase in property taxes each year for school districts and local governments to 2 percent, or the rate of inflation. New York City is exempt from the tax cap.
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