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State Aid Hike For Four Districts

Two school districts see decreases 

Four Nassau County school districts are to receive increases in state aid while two others are slated to see a decline, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s preliminary budget figures released last week.

The Herricks, Sewanhaka, East Williston and Elmont districts are looking at state aid increases. But the West Hempstead and New Hyde Park-Garden City Park districts are slated to see less state aid under Cuomo’s proposed figures, which may change during the legislative process this year.

Herricks School District saw a $2.29 million increase to $7,256,111, while the New Hyde Park-Garden City Park School District lost $134,887. The district was awarded $3,731,177 last year.

Herricks Superintendent John Bierwirth does not think the proposed numbers will stick as is, but is thankful an increase is on the table.  

“It looks to us as though, one way or another, there’s going to be an increase for us,” Bierwirth said. “Whether it will be that much or not, we don’t know.”

Herricks is currently presenting more than $3 million in cuts to the board, indicating that although aid increased, it won’t cover the eliminations totally. 

“We’ll be able to restore something without cutting something else but it doesn’t solve our problem.” he said. “But it helps.”

The Sewanhaka Central High School District saw a 5.9 percent increase from last years aid runs. It will receive $26,108,615 next year.

Sewanhaka officials are still analyzing aid figures reported to the district. Superintendent Dr. Ralph Ferrie said at times, percentage increases “look a bit different than what they actually are.” 

Ferrie was fine with the increase, but as of now, the district is researching 2012-13 to get a better picture of where Sewanhaka could be in 2013-14.

“We’re checking the [numbers] this year for accuracy,” he said acknowledging that because of the new tax cap legislation, the increase in state aid will lessen the impact on the amount of money we have to cut to get to the cap.”

East Williston got a slight uptick with $39,948 in district aid. The district was awarded $2,240,409 in 2012.

Assistant Superintendent for Business Jackie Fitzpatrick doesn’t expect much change to come with aid figures. 

“They’ve been relatively consistent with give and take,” she said. “But for the most part, it’s been in the right direction based on a lot of estimates that have been prepared. For the most part, they’ve been fine.”

The Elmont School District received $19,589,186 in aid, an 8.4 percent increase from last year. Elmont struggled to meet the state-imposed 2 percent tax cap for the 2012-13 school year.

It took two budget votes last year for the district to pass a $78,560,346 budget. That budget held a 6.9 percent tax levy increase. Emails to Superintendent Al Harper were not answered.

The West Hempstead School District lost $311,288 in aid. It received $7,736,875 last year.

West Hempstead is working to close a $2.8 million budget gap. Deputy Superintendent Richard Cunningham expected a flat aid run, with drops in transportation aid because the district decreased that part of its budget by $1 million.

What he didn’t see coming was the decrease in high-tax aid, which most school districts in the state saw a 70 percent decrease. West Hempstead lost $364,141.

“That really hurt a lot of us,” he said. “It wiped out an increase in the state aid lines we saw.”

Outside revenue is faltering in the district, with outside residents in Island Park that pay to attend school dropping yearly along with BOCES vacating the Marian Delaney School (MDS) on Eagle Avenue. West Hempstead lost $1.2 in revenue.

“The complications of the tax cap are coming to roost,” Cunningham said. “The PILOTs (payment in lieu of taxes) for the West 130 property are coming on line this year and that decreases your allowable tax levy.”

A potential tenant is interested in MDS, but will not rent the whole building.

The senate and assembly will work to hammer out the governor’s executive budget for an April 1 adoption.

“The governor’s budget is a proposal and, as we negotiate a final budget for New York State, I will be working with my colleagues toward securing more state aid for Long Island school districts,” Senator Jack Martins said. “In this economy, every school district is a high needs district when it comes to funding.”


News

The New Hyde Park-Garden City Park School District is planning improvements to a district that has already seen much success in recent years. The school year has only just begun and the Board of Ed is already setting its sights on the future. 

 

At the Sept. 8 board of education meeting, Superintendent Robert Katulak’s monthly report outlined the major goals set for the district last month. While approved in August, the three goals were made available to the public this month and each target different areas for improvement throughout the district. 

 

The first goal deals with English Language Learners (ELL) within the student population. ELL students are those that speak a language other than English at home and score below proficient on assessments. 

Senator Jack Martins discussed education, business and drug use among other topics in a an exclusive interview with this newspaper and FiOS 1 News. He’s currently seeking re-election in November, being challenged by Democrat Adam Haber. Pointing to what he called “key legislation,” particularly the tax cap legislation passed in 2011 and prescription drug bill he helped shepherd to enactment, Martins feels New York State is on track to continue fiscal responsibility.

 

“In these last four years, we’ve had four balanced budgets, we’ve cut taxes working together, we have paid off debt, streamlined government, kept spending below 2 percent each one of those years,” Martins said.


Sports

Sewanhaka boys soccer coach Peter Burgess wasn’t sure how long his team’s playoff drought was when it was broken last season. 

 

“Somebody said it was 13 years,” said Burgess, whose entering his fourth year coaching varsity. “But I think it was five or six, I don’t know maybe longer.”

 

But one thing’s for certain, he wants to keep last year’s momentum going. 

 

The Indians, who started their season with a 3-0 loss at Hewlett, will aim for their second straight trip to the playoffs this year. 

The Sewanhaka Indians made their Nassau Conference II debut with a bang.  The Indians opened their season at home against the Calhoun Colts, unsure what to expect, as all they had ever seen of the Colts was one tape of a scrimmage. 

 

“It was nerve raking leading up to the game,” said Head Coach George Kasimatis. “We weren’t sure what to expect on offense or defense, you have to guess early on. “

 

But it didn’t take the Indians long to introduce themselves to the conference, as junior, Quarterback, Elijah Tracey broke a 75-yard run taking it the distance to put the Indians up early, which ended in a 27-7 rout of the Colts. 


Calendar

Town Zoning Meeting - September 17

Herricks Meeting - September 18

Bike Safety Day - September 21


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