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Budget Woes Could = Bigger Classes

Parents voice concerns as board develops budget, battles state mandate

About a dozen parents urged the New Hyde Park-Garden City Park school board to keep class sizes to a minimum and retain enrichment programs, during a recent budget hearing. 

One mother pointed out that the increased class sizes had caused a drastic, negative change on her daughter’s grades and confidence. 

“We have no control over the Common Core (curriculum) so we only have teacher selection and class size to help these children adjust to third-grade challenges,” she said. “It was decided to place teachers inexperienced in 3rd grade curriculum and give them 28 students to teach. So I ask the board, what are we going to do to fix (this)?”

Noreen Lowey, president of the Garden City Park PTA also addressed the Board. 

“It’s important to retain the current class sizes to allow our children the opportunity to master the topics introduced in class. We ask that you continue to develop creative budget ideas to offer our children the educational opportunities they need to be successful,” Lowey said. 

Mini Pothen noted that one of her main concerns was keeping enrichment, art and music programs, which both of her children have benefited greatly from. 

“I attribute a lot of my son’s success to the enrichment programs and I think these programs are really the star of the district. We really need to have a strong academic program and keep all these programs in place so we can meet the unique needs of our children,” Pothen said.

Trustee David Del Santo called for retaining cultural programs.  

 “I’m advocating that we keep those music and art programs because it rounds out the kids and gives them exposure to life,” he said. “If all they had was math and science, they would be really dull kids.” 

One parent had an issue with how much say parents really had in the decision making process. 

“People who have regular jobs are not included in this process unless you’re a board member. You can make your comments but it doesn’t mean it’s going to change anything. That’s an area we need to look at closer,” Frank Cienski said. 

Katulak: ‘Call On Our Leaders’

Superintendent Robert Katulak urged parents to call and write state leaders regarding a mandate that would require the school district to administer standardized tests on computers. The mandate requires the district to have computers for their largest class starting in the 2014-15 school year, a move that, according to board president Ernest Gentile, could cost anywhere from $3,000 to $5, 000.  

“By insisting we spend money on the computer hardware to take this test, we will be sacrificing programs and staff to pay for the extra computers,” Katulak said. Katulak said that not only is this mandate financially chaotic, as the district is currently trying to cut $100,000 from its developing budget, but it doesn’t make educational sense.

“We’re also concerned as educators that this is not developmentally accurate. Third graders who have not been taught keyboarding skills or are not computer proficient are being expected to take a timed standardized test on these computers and that is not fair,” Katulak said. “We’d like to have the choice of taking the paper and pencil test.” 

Other Notes

Katulak noted that the district is currently working to improve safety and is working with different liaisons from Homeland Security, the Nassau County Police Department and other departments. In addition, each building is currently incorporating essential safety measures such as stricter entry and passage about the buildings, room numbers being posted on the exterior of classrooms and cutting shrubbery to under 3-feet for easier visibility.  

There is a shortened winter break due to Hurricane Sandy and district schools will be open Thursday, Feb. 21 and Friday, Feb. 22. 

 

Bongiorno To Retire

Board Vice President Joseph Bongiorno announced his retirement, and that he would not be running for reelection. “It’s been a wonderful six years, and I’ve got the opportunity to meet so many people. The kids we’re raising here are wonderful,” he said.

News

The debate over New York State Common Core standards continues, with students from local school districts showing a mild resistance to the exams.

 

According to the New York State Allies for Public Education, 39 students in the Herricks School District opted out of the English exam, while 74 did not take the math test. For the New Hyde Park-Garden City Park School District, 17 students did not take the English test while 18 refused to take the math test.

At the Oct. 17 meeting of the Herricks Board of Education, Superintendent of Schools Dr. John Bierwirth discussed the recent investigation of students who have been illegally attending school in the Herricks School District, despite living in outer areas. Bierwirth said that 14 prospective cases were investigated and eight students were forced to leave the district.

 

Board of Education President James Gounaris said weeding out students who are attending school in Herricks under false pretenses is boiled down to one fact: it takes away valuable resources from the children of tax-paying members of the community.


Sports

The Sewanhaka Indians varsity football team hosted Elmont Spartans on Saturday, Oct. 18 in its final home game of the regular season. 

 

It certainly did not go as the Indians had hoped, falling 18-8, in a mistake filled game. Head coach George Kasimatis said the Indians had their chances, but kept digging themselves into a hole with mental mistakes on both sides of the ball. 

 

Playing from behind, senior running back Brenton Mighty was able to break free for a long touchdown run, to put the Indians on the board. 

Sewanhaka Indians Head football coach George Kasimatis told his team to expect a dogfight in this weeks game against the New Hyde Park Gladiators, and he was right after its 35-21 victory last week. 

 

“All the kids know each other really well, it’s always competitive when we play each other,” he said. 


Calendar

PTA Meeting - October 22

International Night - October 23

Halloween Dance - October 24


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