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Superintendent of Schools Charlie Cardillo was guest speaker at the Manhasset Chamber of Commerce meeting April 7. Along with the school budget vote, a 0.87 percent increase over last year's budget, there will also be a proposition on the ballot.

On March 25 the board of education unanimously approved a proposition to be placed before the voters on May 19, designating the funds currently in the capital reserve fund to be used for both locker room renovation and the installation of new bleachers at the middle and at the high school. If approved by the voters, the projects would be completed in the summer of 2010.

In May 2006, voters had authorized the establishment of a Capital Reserve Fund for the purpose of funding future districtwide improvements. The district's architect, John Grillo, has estimated the cost of the project at $3,582,126. The funding would come from the capital reserve fund balance, currently at $3,310,434.

Cardillo explained this is his fourth year as superintendent, and each year around this time he tries to meet with each member of the senior class. He said there is a high degree of satisfaction, pride and spirit for the school, felt and expressed by the students.

The superintendent said the administration and the five-member board have worked hard to come up with a budget economically sensitive to the needs of the community, hit hard by the economic downturn. Looking back 25 years, he noted, there was no budget lower than the current one. The actual tax levy is fluid, not locked in until August, he said. The tax levy currently stands at 0.87 percent.

Academic and sports programs, he said, will be maintained, as will the historical guidelines for class size. And, after school programs will also be maintained. Often, Cardillo said, they're asked "How did you do it?"

Medical costs are down 3.1 percent. (In 2010-11 medical costs will double in cost, a 2 percent increase in itself, Cardillo warned, and those costs are determined by the state.)

Cardillo noted prior to his being hired, the district experienced excessive turnover especially in special education, the athletic department and the business department. Since 2006, he explained, they have developed a budget document that is improved and refined each year. The team following in this administration's footsteps, the superintendent said, will benefit from a living, transparent document. Cardillo credited, in large part: Rosemary Johnson, business department; Allison Rushforth, special education; and Bill Shine, assistant to the superintendent.

The athletic situation would be far worse, Cardillo said, were it not for generosity and fundraising efforts of the Indians Rock Foundation. The Tower Foundation has provided the district with a language lab and SMARTBoards, to mention just a few projects they have sponsored over the years.

Limited time permitted Cardillo to answer two questions. The first question targeted the percentage of funds spent on special education to the overall budget. Cardillo answered by saying there are 540 special education students, including those out of district, and that constitutes 12 percent of the population. This year, he said there are 47 autistic children; next year there will be 57, and, he added, autistic students require the most funding. When he was hired in 2005, he explained, special education, transportation and, at that time, energy costs were the "big rocks."

That led to the second question about the pending legal decision resulting from the decision to outsource busing services. Cardillo said they are waiting for a decision that should come before the budget vote. He said the district was on the losing end of the first ruling and has appealed. Savings from outsourcing and the quality of the bus service have been good, he said. Should the district lose the decision, it will be costly.

This year's major chamber of commerce initiative is launching the website which will contain a community calendar, and May 5, in the library community room, local civic organizations are invited to send one member of their organization to a community calendar planning and training meeting to learn how to add their events to the calendar. Different types of organizations will have different colors.

For small companies with no website the chamber website will provide a web presence.

The chamber voted once again to take out an ad in the SCA Fair Journal, a major event in town, this year spanning two days.

Plans are developing for a shop local campaign; no one wants more empty storefronts.

Last month's speaker was District Attorney Kathleen Rice and members have followed up with her regarding more efficient treatment for new businesses from the Town of North Hempstead Building Department. Anxious to get up and running new businesses wait months for permits; wait months to get a sign changed.

It was stated that the safety crosswalk on Plandome Road at Villa Milano restaurant is probably going to happen.

CSM is preparing for their third Community Courtesy Campaign on May 16.

The next Manhasset Chamber of Commerce event is the popular Business Card Exchange on Thursday, April 23, at 5:30 p.m. at Citibank, 66 Bayview Avenue, Manhasset. The guest speaker is Adrienne Buskard who will discuss "Maximizing Your Business On The Web."


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