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Facilities Director Explains His Cost-Saving Plan

At the last Herricks School Board meeting Herricks Facilities Director James Brown outlined the cost-saving plan he is implementing to streamline his department and to bring down costs.

Prior to his presentation, Herricks Superintendent Dr. Jack Bierwirth said, “We will need everyone’s cooperation to make this plan work and everyone’s forbearance as there will certainly be unexpected and unintended glitches which will need to be resolved, as the plan is implemented.

“The pay-off is that this will avoid deeper cuts in instructional programs and staffing now and in the future/and or more drastic changes in the operations of our facilities. The changes in behavior required of all of us seem both reasonable and worth the effort in the context.”

Director Jim Brown’s Plan

Elementary Schools Day Shift:  

Head custodian will open the building and it will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Custodian hours will be changed from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.

A bus driver will be assigned to assist from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. when available.

Night Shift:

A custodian and a cleaner will be assigned to clean the entire building from 3:30 to 11:30 p.m.

A floater will be assigned, from school to school (due to unforeseen absences) in each building once a week; they will also cover any vacations or sick time in a building.

High School and Middle School

The high school and middle school will cover their own positions with the staff they have. They have no additional manpower.

Herricks Community Center

The Herricks Community Center and Shelter Rock Academy will have a cleaner from the elementary school transfer to the night shift.

The grounds and maintenance staff will not change at this time, but if needed they will go to whatever building to either open or assist in when warranted.

Note: All elementary schools will be closed at 6 p.m.

All school board meetings will be held at the Herricks Community Center, 999 Herricks Road, New Hyde Park.

Areas of Cooperation:

•  All chairs to be put on desks at the end of the day and put down at the beginning.

•  Garbage pails in classrooms are to be brought to the door for pick- up.

 • Special events and parties should be kept in one area not in individual classrooms, especially if food and drinks are served.

Reorganization of Facilities Department

James Brown then presented the outline of the reorganization of the facilities department:

The elimination of four positions in the facilities department through non-replacement due to retirements has necessitated a reorganization of the department to address building cleaning schedules:


                          2009/2010          New
                           Staffing           Staffing

Center                 5               4*

Denton                5               4

Searingtown        5               4

Middle School    10              9

High School       15              13

Center & SRA      9              6

Grounds               5              4

Maintenance        9              7

*A new position of a floater will be established to move between elementary schools.

Certiorari Information

Assistant Superintendent for Business Helen Costigan explained at the meeting, “As we all know Nassau County won the lawsuit to transfer the liability for certiorari suits to the school districts in Nassau County. This is on appeal and could take months to render a decision.

“However, the board must establish and fund a tax certiorari reserve fund in July, 2012. A separate reserve must be established and funded every July 1. Challenges can take up to four years to be settled.”

Costigan continued, “The paperwork will become relevant on April 1. Although we received this paperwork in the past, we have simply filed it away. But, as of April 1, the board will need to establish a policy regarding which tax certiorari proceedings are to be challenged. This would require legal counsel to represent the district in these cases. Any successful challenges from taxpayers will result in a reduction of tax levy money to be received by the district. The monetary impact will begin in the spring of 2013.

“School districts will have no roll in assessing or sending out the tax bills but school districts will be liable for reductions in assessments. Thankfully, however, the district does not have a large amount of commercial property that they will have to deal with.”

Draft Budget for 2012-2013

The following was then presented by Dr. Bierwirth:

“The gap between current 2011-12 programs and services carried forward into 2012 and 2012-13 budget allowable under the tax cap as adjusted for the growth factor calculated by New York State is $2,052,593.

“While small cuts have been made in a variety of areas, the major cuts we would recommend are as follows:

“Four elementary classroom positions due primarily to reduced enrollment. Class size would be in line with the 2011-12 and 2012-13.

Reduction:  $436,000

“Two grade six classroom positions due to lower enrollment. Reduction: $218, 000

“Three 5 positions in Grade 7-8 due to the elimination of the grade 8 teams.

Reduction: $382, 000

“Four positions at the high school. This will come from a variety of departments and will mean higher class sizes. We are not recommending that students be limited in the maximum number of periods they are allowed to take.

Reduction: $480,000

“The addition of 0.8 secondary teaching positions at Shelter Rock Academy to be paid for by admitting at least four additional tuition students from other districts and includes expansion into grade 8.

Reduction: $87, 000

“Elimination of 4.0 positions in the Facilities Department through non-replacement of facilities staff expected to retire under a previously negotiated retirement incentive. Plans currently being developed to modify cleaning schedules and hours buildings are open to the public.

Reduction: $280,000

“Ten percent reduction in 2011-2012 budget for clubs K-12

Reduction: $47,000

“Seventy-five thousand reduction in interscholastic athletic budget. Primary cuts include elimination of athletic trainer positions and elementary and secondary intramurals.

Reduction: $75,000

“Reduction of five teaching assistants for large class size mitigation.

Reduction: $200,000

“Elimination of Herricks participation in the Tri-State Consortium which is roughly $15,000 per year.

Reduction: $15,000

“Last summer the board instituted modest fees for use of certain facilities . At the time the board indicated that the fees would probably increase for 2012-13 and be expanded to other areas. We recommend that the board proceed with this.

Reduction:  Not determined as yet.

“We recommend that the board also consider a proposition to the community this spring to change the bus limits for the high school to the state minimum of three miles effective in the 2013-2014 school year. This would permit the district to consider changing the start time of the high school in 2013-14 or thereafter without incurring additional costs for busing.”

Reduction:  Not determined as yet.

In Other Matters: Fire Alarm Control Panel to Be Replaced

The board also passed a resolution to declare emergency and provide funding for a replacement of the fire alarm control panel at the high school and award the contract to replace the fire alarm control panel. Since the fire alarm control panel at the high school is over 20 years old and not working properly and discontinued for more than five years, parts are no longer available and the fire alarm control panel needs to be replaced because the situation jeopardizes the safety of the occupants and visitors of the Herricks High School.

 It was therefore decided, by the recommendation of the superintendent, the board that the replacement of the fire alarm control Panel at Herricks High to be emergency work.

Summer Recreation Fees to Remain the Same

The board also approved no increase in fees for the 2012 Summer Recreation Program and no increase in the salaries of the instructors in that program including the director.

Acceptance of Donations

The board accepted a donation of a Weider Total Body Works fitness apparatus from Lucille Romano to the Herricks Schools.

Plus, the board approved the donation of various office supplies to the Center Street Elementary School by Vivian K. Sin. And the donation of a  Yamaha electronic keyboard, amplifier and carrying case to the district from the Herricks Music Booster.

Acceptance of Scholarship

Upon the recommendation of the superintendent, Dr. Jack Bierwirth, the board accepted several gifts to the scholarship fund in the name of Craig Lagnese Scholarship Fund totaling $17,250. Note:  $17,250 is the amount to date-donations will continue.

Acceptance of Gifts on the Addendum

On the recommendation of the superintendent, the board accepted a gift of 38 desktop computer systems and two laserjet printers from the Sobhraj family, Zara Realty, 166-07 Hillside Avenue, Jamaica, NY.

The equipment will be used to upgrade two locations at Center Street School, that are in constant demand by students and staff, the Computer Lab and the Library.

Superintendent Bierwirth said, “These two locations would have been upgraded two years ago had the budget had not been cut. The Computer Lab will receive 30 computers and one color laserjet printer. These new computers will take the place of existing computers that are approximately six years old.

“Further, the library will receive eight computers and one black laserjet printer. This would allow us to replace the existing older computers and add a laserjet printer.”

Bierwirth concluded, “The existing computers in the lab and library will be reconditioned by our in-house staff and be used to replace computers in classrooms and offices.”

The very long meeting ended and the next meeting is set for March 1 and it will be held at 7:15 p.m. at the Herricks Community Center, 999 Herricks Road, New Hyde Park and it will be a regular and budget meeting.