Written by Margaret Whitely: firstname.lastname@example.org Friday, 18 May 2012 00:00
At the outset of the last New Hyde Park/Garden City Park School Board meeting, the board took time out to recognize math and science students.
The following Math Enrichment students presented their projects:
Grade 4-Gabriel Wong, of the Manor Oaks School.
Grade 5-Nicole Joseph, of the New Hyde Park Road School.
Grade 6-Danielle Schwartz, of Hillside Grade School.
The following students received awards of recognition from the district for participating and winning at the Long Island Science Fair held recently at Nassau Community College:
First place: Matthew Rowinsky, of New Hyde Park Road School.
Second place: Shane Sam, Jithin Thomas and Ryan Moon.
Third place: Kayla Loubriel, Jacqueline Lai and Caroline Bak.
The regular school board meeting then began with a report from the District Internal Auditor Dan Hoffman, of Cullen and Danowski, who reported that the district had been very cooperative in the areas his firm is required to review. Over the years they have gone over the records in purchasing activities, employee benefits, operations and facilities staff departments and recently payroll. Hoffman said he met with the audit committee that he deemed was well designed and knowledgeable.
Hoffman said, “Overall the controls in this district are very strong and through the years steps have been taken to consolidate jobs to provide some very good backup in such a small district. As a matter-of-fact due to the lack of findings we have been able to reduce our fees consistently.”
The first topic on the agenda was the school budget to be voted on May15 from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Manor Oaks School, 1950 Hillside Avenue, New Hyde Park.
Superintendent Robert Katulak then commented on the budget process. He said, “We concentrated diligently on reducing all areas of expenditures without hurting the students by either cutting staff or academic programs. Further, we held a series of 10 public forums to explain the budget and the tax cap and to hear your concerns.
“What we have crafted through a collaborative process is a budget that preserves all essential academic programs and personnel and comes in with the lowest budget-to-budget increase of 2.88 percent in the past 10 years. We are presenting a budget that adheres to Governor Cuomo’s tax cap and will require the simple majority role vote.”
The following is the three-part budget for next year:
Katulak added, “In the final analysis, the difference to the average tax bill of a passed proposed budget vs. a contingency budget will save each homeowner $82.01.”
Lisa Friel, president of the PTA Intra School Council said, “We would like it to be known that all the memberships have voted and are unanimously in support of this budget. We would like to thank the members of the board of education for presenting us with an educationally sound budget with no cuts to our valued programs.”
Joan Schuman, a 45-year resident of New Hyde Park, said she looked closely at the budget and under the administrative budget, the employees benefits were reduced. But, on the program budget they went up by $521, 000. She wanted to know what portion do the employees pay?”
Assistant Superintendent For Business Michael Frank explained that the reason there was a reduction in the administrative budget is that two positions were consolidated into one.
“In terms of overall benefits there are overall units. We have the administrators, we have the clerical, teachers, monitors, aides and nurses and each of those collective bargaining units have different share ratios. So for health insurance it differs in every unit.”
Schuman said, “Did their fair-share increase according to the amount of settlement with the district. She also wanted to know why the testing services went up by $48,000.”
Katulak said, “Under the new APPR Plan, mandated by the state education department, each school district has to offer a local assessment that is administered by a company that the district ultimately has to pay for.”
Trustee David DelSanto said, “You talk about unfunded mandates we on the school board do not have a say. We would prefer not to have this testing service, but when the governor and the state school board association tells us we have to have it, and then add we have to pay for it out of our own budget, it drives us crazy and it happens all the time.”
Schuman said, “May I make a suggestion, that when you send out the bulletin, regarding the budget, when there is an amount listed that has been increased that you give just a few lines under that item as to why it was increased.”
Another resident said, “I would like to commend the board for putting together one of the most difficult budgets and further, the presentation by Michael Frank and Superintendent Katalak was probably the best I have seen because it was so understandable.
“What I would like to ask is that the community agreed to an $8 million capital program and I did not see any costs for that in this budget. I did notice that boiler repairs were listed and I thought that would be included in the capital program. It’s a lot of money and I just wanted to know if that has been included in the budget.”
Katalak answered, “All the contracts for that capital plan have been awarded and soon we will have a ‘kick-off’ meeting. The bulk of the work will be done during the summer months beginning in June. As we proceed there will be an itemized account of items listed on the district website.”
The same resident was also concerned about the fence at Hillside Grade and a fence at Manor Oaks. He mentioned that the clips have been removed and that is sometimes is in preparation for removing the fence.
Stephanie Teff, a labor relation’s specialist for the clerical employees, spoke at the end of the meeting. She said, “There are 15 members of this unit and they are hard-working and most live in New Hyde Park making an average wage of about $40, 476.”
She then went on to say that in five years the same employees, if they accept the contract that is being presented now, would be paying almost 25 percent of their salaries for health insurance since it is expected that each year the Empire Health Plan will be increased by 10 percent.
After Teff gave her presentation, the meeting ended. The next meeting of the New Hyde Park/Garden City Park School Board will be held on June 11 at the Manor Oaks School, 1950 Hillside Avenue, New Hyde Park.