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Budget Concerns Discussed At Last New Hyde Park School Board Meeting

The last New Hyde Park/Garden City Park School Board meeting was held at the Hillside Grade School.

However, prior to the regular meeting, the board held a budget meeting at 7:30 p.m. to hear the various requests and suggestions from residents pertaining to the budget.

The first resident requested that no music programs be removed. She said that it has been shown that students who are in music programs also have higher math grades. Another concern she had was the history program. She said that, “it boggles my mind” that the sixth grade students are never taken to Museums to study different civilizations.

She also asked that the clinics be continued and said she was also concerned that when the students reached high school they couldn’t touch type and suggested that touch typing be added to the curriculum of the students in the fifth or sixth grade. She added, “Since the students work on the computers so much, they really need to be taught how to touch-type, especially before they go to the high school.”

The next resident also requested that there be no cuts in either music or arts. She said, “Arts appear to be on the chopping block and I strongly urge that not happen. The last thing we want to see for our children is a bare bones education.”

The loss of the Odyssey program was on the mind of yet another resident and the head of the Hillside PTA urged that no music programs be removed. Further, classes should be kept as small as possible as large classes would harm the over-all excellent education afforded to the children, the resident stated.

Since there were no further comments, the board then moved to start the regular meeting.

First off was a message by principal Karen Olynk welcoming all in attendance at the Hillside Grade School, stating that the 100 days of school was recently celebrated.

Next, in keeping with an Early Childhood theme, was an early literacy profile presented by Marilyn Podell, the reading teacher, and the Universal Pre-Kindergarten program was explained by the staff of Harbor Day Care. Students for this program are picked by lottery.

New Hyde Park Superintendent Robert Katulak then gave his monthly report, which was published in The Illustrated News issue of Feb. 18.

The standing committee reports included the announcement by trustee David DelSanto that March 2 will be the Sewanhaka Central High School budget meeting and he said it was important that as many residents as possible be in attendance.

Further, he announced that a music festival comprised of artists from all of the schools in the Sewanhaka School District got together and he said it was absolutely marvelous. Further, he announced that the festival was in honor of former New Hyde Park/Garden City Park trustee Louis Zacarese. “Truly,” DelSanto said, “It was the best of the best and the next time it is held please, try to attend. It is well worth it.”

It was also announced, sadly, that Dian Zirilli-Mares, the director of Curriculum and Instruction will be retiring effective on June 30. It was duly noted that this will be a huge loss to the district since she has been such an integral part of all the schools and it will be very hard to replace her expertise.

Former school board president Patricia Rudd then reported that last weekend she attended the Federal Relations Network Meeting in Washington. She said, “It was a very productive weekend and I just want to let everyone know the issues I was lobbying for.

“The Stimulus Fund saved the district but what about 2011 when the money will run out? Right now we are on a cliff ready to fall off. This is going to be a very, very tough year for our budget. I know that some people have said they want more programs. Therefore, we are not going to be able to add anything extra because we will not be getting any monies from the state or from the federal government.

“On the things we have been working on is an increase for Title I, further we want to make sure there is no funding for private schools vouchers, tuition tax credit and no financial assistance to private, parochial or charter schools because it would take money away from public schools and we can’t afford it at this time.

“Restrict any school choice options. Our Congress is committed to fully fund its Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act. Right now it is funded at 17 percent so we need for them to increase that number and that is just one of their unfunded mandates.

“Make sure that Race To The Top does not deny schools their share of Title One. Plus, to permanently reform the Alternative Minimum Tax to Index for Inflation and to recognize regional wealth differences. This is very important.

“Release school districts from the cost incurred by the implementation of the ESCA, which is the new “No Child Left Behind” and fully fund all costs attributed to the reauthorization of elementary and secondary education. You will not be hearing “No Child Left Behind” anymore; instead you will be hearing about ESCA.

“Address concerns over federal assessment. Provide school districts with greater overall flexibility to make educational sound decisions.”

Rudd ended her comments by saying that she met with Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy who was very receptive to all of the concerns of Long Island schools.

It was also established that in March five or six board members will be going to Albany to attend various conferences to lobby for various concerns of the district and to make sure the district receives their fair share of monies. The amount for their attendance will not exceed $850 each.

The board meeting ended and the next school board meeting is scheduled for March 15 at 8 p.m. at the New Hyde Park Road School.