At the last Herricks School Board meeting the board voted to approve the proposed budget that will be presented for voter approval on May 19 in the amount of $93,805,395 for a budget-to-budget increase of 1.57 percent.
Assistant Superintendent for Business Helen Costigan praised for her work on constructing such an efficient budget.
Prior to the vote, however, the board heard from Superintendent Dr. Jack Bierwirth who announced the various programs that were added into the budget.
The board heard about the District Wide Technology Program and about the 5-year plan and the installation of the fiber optic cable.
Dr. Bierwirth explained that the first stage of correcting the infrastructure is completed and with the same amount of money the program is moving into the increasing need for laptops and Smart Boards and that allows more students to work in a lab where the laptops will be wireless. It will also move the district away from fixed computer labs because the computers will be on "rolling labs."
Dr. Bierwirth said, "Because of the economic circumstances we put half of the technology amount into the budget. We weren't going to change direction, however, it will slow down the process. Quite honestly I would rather see you put money in now, because next year we may be squeezed more. This is essentially a one-time expenditure."
Trustee Peter Grisafi commented, "First, I want to comment on the budget. A budget like this is put together through leadership and intelligence and we have the leadership in our central administration and intelligence of Helen Costigan in the business office. A lot of times you have the leadership but you don't have the fiscal skills. So, I think we have a great budget here and I think we should take the opportunity to continue. The first two items are really not adding anything to the budget; it would be just restoring what has been taken out in the initial planning. I think we should do this now given the economic circumstances and we don't know where we will be next year. We have done fantastic things with technology in the 13 years I have been on the board and we have great technology teachers and technicians. And, being a "techi" myself, I love watching our progress, so I advocate putting this back into the budget."
Trustee Dr. Sanjay Jain added, "I would echo what Peter just said and even though this is going to be expenditure, it is an investment in the education of the students as well as teachers and administrators."
Trustee Christine Turner said, "I just want to echo the same sentiments and I agree. Every time, in the past when we have had tough times or a tough budget, everyone seems to zero in and cut the technology budget. I just think in general this will be taking a step backwards. I think we are very, very fortunate, given all the pieces that we are able to keep a decent budget and I think we should move forward on the plan we have laid out."
Trustee Kevin Dunn agreed as did board president Richard Buckley. He added, "I agree with all of you and this is certainly the time so let's do it this year when our budget is kind of down because we don't know what is going to happen next year."
One of the technology teachers said that the laptop carts have been a fantastic addition to her classroom. She said that the students are so enthusiastic about using them and then when they are finished they simply are rolled out into another room.
Dr. Bierwirth pointed out that building the fiber optic infrastructure was the key component to being able to move forward with the laptop carts, which all students are able to utilize.
The board then voted to reinstate that item back into the budget.
In succession the board voted to restore the music budget which affords the purchase of additional instruments and they also voted to include a swim team into the budget since so many parents advocated for the program at several board meetings.
Budget to budget increase will now be 1.75 percent with a breakdown of following General Fund Appropriation:
General Support Services: 10,406,858
Instructional Services: 57,649,626
Pupil Transportation Services: $3,55,946
Community Services: $517,527
Undisrupted Expenses: $21,675,458
Total General Fund Appropriation: $93,805,395
Board President Richard Buckley said he was able to attend the "bullying" session at the high school. He said the program was extremely interesting and gave parents lots of ideas and how to deal with such a situation and also gave them various programs they could utilize on the Internet."
President Buckley also announced that the Nutrition Program has been extended until May 1. He added, "So we will get more time and hopefully things will change and they will keep that really great program."
Buckley also announced that applications for anyone wishing transportation to a private school must be submitted to the Herricks Administration office by April 1. Plus, petitions for anyone wishing to run for trustee of the Herricks School must be submitted by 5 p.m. on April 20 at the District Clerk's Office at the Administration office, Herricks Community Center, 999 Herricks Road, New Hyde Park
Assistant Superintendent for Personnel Dr. Deidre Hayes said she wanted to issue an apology to all those residents who use the Adult Education program at Herricks. She said there has been some confusion with the various programs and she said they are working with those who facilitate the program to make sure that it is running smoothly as soon as possible.
Dr. Bierwirth announced that each year the VFW supports two essay contests. One for the middle school and this year the national theme was "Why American Veterans Should be Honored."
Bierwirth said the local Albertson Post No. 5253 was in contact with the middle school and 15 students entered and three were selected. All three received plaques from Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi and a cash prize.