Written by Manhasset Superintendent of Schools Charles Cardillo Friday, 15 March 2013 00:00
At the Saturday, March 2 Manhasset Board of Education budget work session, the audience was asked to consider the following question: If back in May 2008, you were informed by the board that the community would be guaranteed a five year average budget-to-budget increase of 2.53 percent and average tax levy increase of 3.11 percent, would you have supported such a resolution? Several community members seated in the audience responded, “I would sign on the dotted line,” and “I am all in,” suggesting that these increases, as an average, support the maintenance of the “4A’s” – Academics, Arts, Athletics and Activities - in Manhasset and are a reasonable expectation for continued excellence in our schools.
Here we are, five years later. Including the preliminary working budget for 2013-14, the board has delivered on this five-year average during incredibly challenging economic times. For those of you who were unable to make the well-attended budget work session, you should be aware that the school district is confronted with the reduction of $6,832,380 from the superintendent’s preliminary working budget and tax levy if the budget does not pass on Tuesday, May 21, or on a second vote which would follow several weeks later. Quite simply, such a reduction would mean a drastic change in what the Manhasset community has historically cherished in its K-12 educational programs, including a significant adverse impact on the current structure of the “4 A’s.” You may wonder, “How did we get to this point?” The following provides a summary of the historical and financial circumstances that have led us to this critical moment for our schools.
A review of recent financial history reminds us that the Manhasset school board and central administration began a self-imposed tax levy cap three years prior to the actual implementation of the state imposed tax levy cap. The 2009-2010 tax levy increase was 0.45 percent, while at the same time, other school districts in Nassau County saw an average tax levy increase of 2.78 percent. During a period of four years, Manhasset’s budget increases, covering the period from 2009/10 to 2012/13, had an average tax levy increase of 1.69 percent compared to the other school districts throughout Nassau County with an average of 2.90 percent. At the same time, Manhasset’s average budget-to-budget increase of 2.02 percent during this period of time remained consistently lower than the Nassau County average of 2.32 percent. Simultaneously, Manhasset’s schools were experiencing a growth in enrollment of 8.15 percent while the school districts throughout Nassau County saw a 2.36 percent decline in enrollment. During this four- year period, Manhasset prudently used reserves and fund balance of $8,403,859 to offset tax levy increases. Because the district has used, in part, its reserves and fund balance to maintain low budget and levy increases over the last four years, as such it is no longer available for the 2013-2014 school year, nor is the ability to replenish these accounts. The 2013-14 preliminary working budget reflects $0 in reserves and fund balance as a source of tax levy relief for 2013-14.
The superintendent’s 2013-2014 preliminary working budget reflects a 4.61 percent budget-to-budget increase with an 8.78 percent tax levy increase. Placed in context, our five-year average, including the 2013-2014 budget proposal, is a 2.53 percent budget-to-budget and 3.11 percent tax levy increase. The question before us is, “Is the Manhasset community ‘all in’ for the continuation of the quality of the “4A’s” in our schools?”
In an upcoming column, I will provide specific details of the implications of a drastic change in the nature of the “4 A’s” in Manhasset. I would encourage each of you to become better informed by going to the link below on the school district’s website: http://www.manhasset.k12.ny.us/Budget.cfm?subpage=12223
Here, we have provided a complete video breakdown by topic of the executive summary presentation made at the Saturday March 2 budget work session. The videos are broken into four-to-six minute components which allow you, over a period of several days, to gain insight into the key elements and the many challenges of the superintendent’s preliminary working budget.
Saturday, 18 May 2013 00:00
Manhasset resident Arda Nazerian Haratunian is lending her expertise and support to ERASE Racism, a civil rights non-profit that advocates for racial equity on Long Island. As a member of its planning committee for the third year in a row, she is helping to organize ERASE Racism’s Annual Benefit Celebration, which will take place on June 5 at the Garden City Hotel.
A strategic communications consultant, Arda has more than 25 years experience in both the private and public sectors. She most recently served as senior policy advisor and communications director to former Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi and previously worked for New York Governor Mario Cuomo. During the decade between her two careers in public service, Arda was on Wall Street, serving as managing director of global corporate communications for Citigroup’s Corporate and Investment Bank and before that, head of media and public relations at the American Stock Exchange.
Thursday, 16 May 2013 00:00
There is a floral treasure in Manhasset, something unique: it’s the greenhouse in front of Manhasset Florist on Orchard Street. “Having my own greenhouse ensures premium plant growth and creates optimum conditions. This allows me to offer the healthiest plants to my customers,” says owner Alexander Otis. Indeed, the plants look truly perfect and a delightful scent of blossoms fills the air of the greenhouse.
“My father bought the business and property 45 years ago. During those years, he opened a total of five flower shops in Nassau County,” said Alex. His father trained him and his sister Aretta in the flower business. “While still attending high school we both helped on Saturdays and during our vacations,” he explains. Alex graduated from the New York Institute of Technology as an architect and worked as an engineer for over six years before returning to his roots to help his father manage his five flower shops and to run one, Garden City Florist. “When my father retired in 1999, I took over Manhasset Florist & Greenhouse and Aretta took over Port Washington Florist.”
Thursday, 16 May 2013 00:00
One of Manhasset’s 12U intramural baseball teams defeated Great Neck in the first game played at the renovated Valley Park field on Saturday April 27. Manhasset’s offense scored 10 runs, including a home run from Devin Callery, while pitchers Logan Hyde, Jeff Torborg, James Marchetti and Grant Petracca combined to limit Great Neck to one hit with 11 strikeouts in six innings. Edward Jarvis, Robert DeCastro, Massimo Abruzzo, Colby Schmidt, Gabriel Cohen, Spencer Kaye and Justin Louie each contributed quality defensive plays. Manhasset raised its record to 4-0 and stands in first place in the inter-town intramural league, which includes 8 teams from Merillon, Albertson-Herricks, Great Neck and Manhasset.
Wednesday, 15 May 2013 10:34
The Manhasset Junior Varsity Ice Hockey Team finished their season Wednesday night, April 17, beating Bellmore/Merrick 4-3 in the championship game at the Bethpage Community Park Ice Rink. Wednesday’s finale marked the end of an impressive campaign by the Indians which included a 19-1 regular season record and a trip to the New York State Championship in Ithaca.
Manhasset got off to a strong start scoring four times in the first period on goals by Michael Walsh, Michael Brzozowski, Mario De Bueriis, and Matthew Cecchini whose tally would prove to be the game winner. Nolan Behringer, Ryan Kiess, and goaltender Alex Feinstein led the defense in shutting down a powerful Bellmore/Merrick squad, securing Manhasset’s first ever Junior Varsity Championship.