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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

 Online food market OurHarvest has recently joined forces with Mineola-based Island Harvest Food Bank, Long Island’s largest hunger relief organization, to help feed hungry Long Islanders over Thanksgiving and throughout the holiday season.

In the year it’s been open, the Space at Westbury has been host to musicians, comedians, dancers and last week, the venue opend its doors for world class boxers and their loyal fans. One of the headliners was Richie “Brazil” Neves, from New Hyde Park.

 

Winner Takes All Productions and Greg Cohen Promotions brought a night of boxing to the Space on Thursday, Nov. 13. While boxing events have come to Long Island before, this was the first of its kind to come to The Space. 


Sports

Despite a disappointing playoff loss against the Wantagh Warriors, Sewanhaka Indians Head Coach George Kasimatis, is pleased with his football team’s season. 

“I’m proud of my team,” he said. “But you are never satisfied unless you win the whole thing.”

 

The Indians faced a big challenge this year, moving up into Conference II left them as the new kids on the block, unfamiliar with the teams they would be going against. 

Kasimatis will have a tall task next year replacing graduating seniors, which made up most of his starting lineup. Kasimatis said most of the offensive line, such as Danny Gianotti, Adrian Gonzalez and Louis Segarra III, and the defensive line, such as Justin Alexandre, Peter LaTorre and Peter Militano are seniors, many of which have started multiple years for him. 

The fifth seeded Sewanhaka Indians traveled to Wantagh to take on the fourth seeded Wantagh Warriors on Friday, Nov. 7 for its opening playoff game. 

 

The Indians opened the game sluggish on offense, and were held in check throughout the first quarter. The Indians defense did its best to keep the team within striking distance, but field position form shaky special teams play, put them in a difficult position. 

 

Warriors running back Dylan Beckwith, was able to punch in a 15-yard touchdown run, to give the Warriors a one score lead after the first quarter. 


Calendar

Songfest Tickets - November 19

PTA Meeting - November 19

Herricks School Board Meeting - November 20


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