Written by Daniel Offner Wednesday, 19 February 2014 00:00
News of the proposed development of 160 to 247 condominium units on the 11.3 acres of property occupied by the Karopczyc and Gallow schools, has stirred quite a commotion in the Island Trees schools community, as over 500 concerned parents, teachers, students, faculty and staff packed the high school auditorium last week for a community forum on the farmedge property.
“We’re just starting the conversation,” said Island Trees Board of Education President Ken Rochon. “It is your choice ultimately, but as a board we feel this a good deal.”
According to Rochon, the forum was held to gauge the public’s opinion on the proposed sale, which he feels would leave the district in better financial shape for years to come. The Island Trees Board of Education also acknowledged that it will put it up to a
public referendum, which will be held separate from the school budget vote in May, to determine whether or not the district can sell the property, not the proposed project itself. According to school officials, the developer can at any time change the project by petitioning the Town of Hempstead.
During the forum, accusations ran rampant, as public participants took turns lobbing questions and concerns at the Island Trees Board of Education about plans to relocate the library, enrollment, student safety and several other details.
“We’re being led blindly over a cliff,” said Bill Fitzgerald, a local parent and Island Trees library trustee. “You’re not being truthful with the community.”
Among the questions asked, several were given no response from the board, including, “who is the developer,” “how much does the school district stand to make,” and “why the sudden rush?” However, since the board has not approved any of the bids, it could not disclose information on the developer in question nor would it disclose the anticipated revenue as bidders are competing for the contract.
Unlike the typical procedure a school district would undergo to purchase goods or services, the Island Trees School District, last year, issued a Request for Proposal, a process which is not selected based on lowest resonable bid, but based on which contract bidder offers the greatest overall value.
For interested stakeholders, such as the Island Trees Public Library, the proposal still looked to be a step in the opposite direction. A diagram provided by the school district shows the space the district is offering the public library is smaller than the space it is currently allocated at Karopczyc.
“Moving to the middle school is a downgrade,” said Library Trustee Jerry Schmotzer.
Library Director Michele Vaccarelli said the Island Trees Public Library has moved a total of five times in the past 17 years and that since its last move—from the Memorial Middle School to Karopczyc in 1997—programs and services provided by the library as well as the library’s overall collection of books, have grown.
“It cannot just be a 5-to-10 year lease again,” Vaccarelli said. “Who is going to pay for the construction of the new facility [at the Memorial Middle School]?
According to Vaccarelli if the library were to be required to pay to move back to the middle school, the expense would be to great for the library to pay through its reserves.
Regarding safety concerns, school officials attempted to quell the fears of parents, still reeling from the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., by assuring parents that the library’s new facilities would have separate entrance to ensure that the public did not wander into the school, and that the district could potentially hire a secruity aid to monitor the library.
Diane Kirk, president of the Levittown Property Owners Association, asked the Board of Education if it has any plans to conduct a traffic study along Farmedge road.
Rochon said that the board did not currently have any plans to commit to any form of traffic or crime study yet, but that they do plan to perform them as things progress.
Another parent asked if the district can handle any future uptick in student enrollment if it should sell off the property. Island Trees School District Superintendent Dr. Charles Murphy explained that since the buildings in question are not being utilized as classroom space, sale of the property would not cause an impact to student enrollment.
“We can project that we can absorb any increase [in enrollment] over the next 7 years,” Murphy replied.
Murphy also said that apart from money made in the actual sale of the property, the district would save $200,000 in maintainance costs to keep Gallow and Karopczyc open.
“I’ve lived here the past 27 years and all that time we had BOCES money our taxes never went down,” said Carol Mikulin, mother of Island Trees Public Library Board President John Mikulin. “I don’t feel this is great for the community or that it will save us money.”
Island Trees resident and former school board trustee Carl Bonsignore proclaimed that based on the school district’s estimates, if it costs $200,000 to maintain the current facilities, it would amount to $30 more a year per household.
“It’s a small price to pay to take a little longer,” Bonsignore said.
Friday, 18 April 2014 00:00
The Levittown Board of Education unanimously adopted a $198.7 million spending plan for the 2014-2015 school year, which comes with a proposed tax levy increase of 1.62 percent. This represents a $2.1 million increase from last year, for a proposed levy of $133.2 million.
The Levittown school district will receive $49,163,299 in state aid for the 2014-2015 school year, which increased by $690,049 from last year’s budget. The other revenues also show an increase of $684,250 from last year.
In the past seven years, the district received its largest percentage of state aid in 2008-2009 with 30 percent. According to Assistant Superintendent Bill Pastore, state aid has decreased since then, leveling off for the past few years and coming in at slightly below 25 percent for 2014-15.
Thursday, 17 April 2014 00:00
On April 8, members of the Levittown Property Owners Association invited all seven candidates in the running for Island Trees School District Board of Education to a “Meet the Candidates” forum. Of the seven only four attended, and only three spoke on the dais.
According to Levittown Property Owners President Diane Kirk, members of the Island Trees School District were invited to attend the forum, but declined stating that they were going to attend their own forum on May 12.
Challenger Brian Fielding, a 1995 Island Trees High School graduate, opened the forum with the promise of more transparency.
Thursday, 17 April 2014 00:00
Cantiague Park Senior Men’s Golf League had its first tournament on Thursday April 4. Twenty golfers came out on on a crisp but sunny morning. Charlie Hong was the only man to score under a 40, with a 38 and won for low overall score. Jim O’ Brien scored a 41, and won low overall net in a tie-breaker with Mike Guerriero.
Competition on the nine-hole course is divided into two divisions. Flight A is for players with a handicap of 13 or lower. Flight B is for players with a handicap of 14 or more. The league is a 100 percent handicap league. Any man 55 years or older is eligible for membership. We have many openings for this year, and you can sign up anytime throughout the the season.
Thursday, 17 April 2014 00:00
Trevor Williams 166,101
Keith Kyte 137,119,115
Anthony Baio 111,73
Alyssa Williams 141,133,120
Lauren Walpole 114,105,96
Kaitlyn Insinna 106,68,67
Robert Brooler 107,97
Frank Pietraniello 94
Matthew Banfich 140,95
Nicky Barrera 115,99
Jake Mauro 107
Anthony Barrera 97,79
Michael Pietraniello 97,87
Ty Peranzo 95
Steven Tiemer 92
Nick Bevinetto 90,82
Ava Banfich 103,101
Julianna Mauro 103,87
Gianna Centonze 102,91
Victoria Gray 91,87
Mike Rosen 87,86
Steven Brauer 85,83
Stephan Mandola 83
Joey Mohaudt 81
Pantelis Siriodis 80
Kelsey Casperson 85,73
Stephanie Tiemer 71,67
Kathleen Hoffman 68,65
Jason Tiemer 191,169,138
Max Benson 179
Andrew Scarpaci 168,162,148
Avery Benson 151,149,135
Matthew Brezinski 143,110
Ted Fiber 128,115,114
Paul Klein 126,107
Nicholas Pisano 123,115
Billy Walsh 108
Levittown Island trees
Michael Beck 117,89
Zach Pilser 114,110
Sophia Bloom 93,90
Olivia Bloom 81,79
Christian Tucci 88,85
Louis Bonaventura 84,79
Ava Tucci 74,65
— Submitted by the South Levittown Lanes