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Board Reserves Time for Residents to Speak on Budget

At the last board meeting, as has been the custom, the New Hyde Park/Garden City Park School Board, during the budget process, reserved time at the beginning of the meeting to hear what residents feel is too important to be cut from the budget.

This is especially important since the state has imposed a 2 percent tax cap on all school districts.

The first speaker was Jennifer DeRocchis who said,”My children are students at Manor Oaks. I am not only a resident of New Hyde Park, but I am also a graduate of Hillside Grade School and New Hyde Park Memorial High School.

“I can tell you as a child, I enjoyed chorus lessons, band. I credit my success not only to my family and college education, but also to my elementary and high school education, which helped build the foundation I needed.

“Many of my friends have also chosen to raise their families in this community. We enjoyed growing up here and received a great education and I want my children to have that same education.”

DeRocchis continued, “We keep hearing about non-essentials:  Chorus, band, string, art and the list goes on. But what you need to do is start looking at these as essential, because that is what they are.

“I recently went online to see how our district is ranked in the state. Out of 682 districts in New York, our district is ranked 59. That is an impressive number and a testament to our children’s hard work and the programs and our educators.

“Our district must continue to give our children a well-rounded education. Thank you to the school board for giving our children a solid education and thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts with you.”

Yet another parent pointed out that the Odyssey Enrichment program is equally important as the Special Needs program. She said, “What about the gifted child that is bored just sitting in a regular classroom with no music, science or other. These children need to be challenged as well.”

Another speaker suggested that perhaps the administrators at the school could take a cut or freeze in their salaries in order not to cut any programs from the students.

One of the last speakers was a recent graduate of Manor Oaks school, Rebecca Olivari. She said, “I graduated from Manor Oaks last year. I had the opportunity to be part of Ms. Holzkamp’s Science Lab. It would be terrible if the children did not have the same opportunity as I had. Because of the science lab, I was able to participate in the Science Fair. And, with Ms. Holzkamp’s support, my team’s project went on to the Science Fair at Nassau Community College. I was so proud and excited. Please, don’t take away the science lab from my sister, Jessica and all of the New Hyde Park students.”

Speaker, after speaker, in fact approximately 14 more came to the microphone with basically the same requests, “Do not make any cuts in the school curriculum, rather make sure it stays just as it is.”

When the list of speakers was exhausted, the board then held its regular board meeting.

Regular School Board Meeting

The board started off its regular meeting at Hillside Grade School, with a statement from principal Karen Olynk.

This was followed by the acknowledgement of the members of the All County Band, Orchestra and Chorus.

The board also called on a Storytelling Contest winner, a Kindergarten student at the Hillside Grade School, Angelina Alias to recite her winning story, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. (Covered in the Feb. 10 issue of the Illustrated News)

The following teachers have notified the district that at the end of this school year they will retire. They are:

Diane Schubert, Physical Education Teacher
Nancy Costello, Elementary Teacher
Angela Maletta, Library School Media Specialist
Linda Livreri, Elementary Teacher

Two Percent Tax Cap

Superintendent Robert Katulak welcomed all to the meeting and said, “Tonight we continued to get input from our residents regarding our school district budget.

“This year there is a different piece for us to consider while creating our school budget and that is the 2 percent tax cap that has been imposed by the state. In speaking to superintendents across Long Island, it appears that there is only one school district that is leaning toward a super majority.” What is a super majority? It means that in the past when you put a school budget up the school board presented a budget that they felt the community could support. Now they have taken that power out of our hands. Before, you needed 50 percent, plus one vote. Under the current organization, the super majority, you need a 60 percent vote. In other words, democracy does not count for this process. A village board or a town board by a simple vote of their directors could decide to overrun this vote. But that was not available in education. In the past we have explained what the 2 percent cap means to our district and that has been posted on our website. So I am asking assistant superintendent for business, Michael Frank,  to take two minutes to go over this again with you.”

Assistant Superintendent for Business Michael Frank

Frank said, “Let me give you a brief summary as to how the tax cap is supposed to work. Unfortunately, I am not going to be able to tell you specifically how it affects us, just yet, because even though the law is there for us to follow there are a lot of unanswered questions.

“The 2 percent cap does not equal a 2 percent increase and it is all based on the tax levy.” However, Frank explained that at this time residents will have to wait to see just how the 2 percent tax cap will affect their tax bill.

Update-Curriculum/Instruction 5-Year Plan by Judith LaRocca

Director of Curriculum and Instruction Judith LaRocca gave a brief update on the Curriculum and Instruction regarding the 5-Year Plan.

LaRocca explained that the ELA, math, science and social studies core curriculum committees have been created and meet four times a year.

Frameworks and pacing document for Harcourt Math has been implemented.
Frameworks and pacing document created for Harcourt Social Studies Program implemented.
Grades 1-6 Curriculum have been created for art, music and physical education.
ELA Committee revised for writing portfolios and rubrics for 2011-2012.
New curriculum mapping project beginning for new NLYS Common Core Learning standards.

Textbook Renewal Process

• 08-09 Math series pilot and recommendation.
• 09-10 New Harcourt Math Series implemented.
• 09-10 Social Studies pilot and recommendation.
• 10-11 New Harcourt Social Studies Series implemented.
• 10-11 Science Committee review of Pearson Series and committee creation of Hands-on Science it Boxes for all grades.
•  10-11 K-2 Math series review, recommendation for new text to meet newly introduced NYS common Core Learning Standards.
• 11-12 New K-2 Pearson enVision Math Series.

Professional Development Initiatives and Technical Support

• Differentiated Instruction; Learning Styles; Flexible Grouping, Centers; Reading Styles; My Learning Plan; Harcourt Math Series; Response to Intervention; Gap Analysis of NYS Assessment Data; 2011-2012 Hour PD; Focus-Charlotte; Danielson’s Framework for Teaching for Teacher Evaluation.

Data Analysis

• Nassau BOCES Instructional Data Warehouse reports for analysis of NYS Testing Program.
• District Screening data analysis.
• Item analysis for district benchmark tests using test scoring scanners.
• Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) and Academic Intervention Services (AIS) Plans.
• Yearly review and revision with district-wide committee.
• New state regulations require mandated changes to the district’s APPR plan-new expanded APPR Committee created to plan for all parts of the new requirements to be approved for 2012-2013.

To Do For 2012-2013

• Complete curriculum maps and student learning objectives.
• Finalize APPR plan including implementing local assessment.
• Formative assessment PD through analysis of student work.
• Continue administrative training on evaluation methods.

After listening to the report of LaRocca, the meeting ended and the next meeting has been set for Monday, March 12 at the New Hyde Park Road School when the school budget will be presented. Meeting to begin at 8 p.m.