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School Finance Committee Disbanded

The Mineola School District Board of Education disbanded its finance committee last week. Mineola is not required by law to have a finance committee. They are only mandated to hold an audit committee in place, officials said. 

 

“I felt that we were asking the committee to stay in place without any real purpose, at least from my point of view,” School Board President Artie Barnett said. “I think we could have a discussion and see if they are needed or not.”

 

Citing changes in the budgetary process, district trustees feel crafting a budget, although fiscally challenging, is pretty cut and dry due to the 2 percent tax cap.

 

“We struggled from a board of education perspective that we’re trying to identify tasks to see where we can utilize the committee,” trustee William Hornberger, the board’s finance rep, said.

 

According to Hornberger, there were mixed emotions concerning the disbanding of the committee, which was formed in 2006.

 

“The members have always given the time and effort to shine lights where, not every member has that expertise to understand the dynamics of a budget,” he said. “They’ve made change happen. But I understand why [we’re disbanding]. I don’t disagree with it.”

 

Vice President Christine Napolitano was on the board in 2006 when the committee was formed. She “appreciates what they’ve done.”

 

“I think things have changed,” she said, mentioning audit processes and the tax cap. “The buck, the responsibility...everything lands here. We’re the ones that have to take the heat when everything comes down. But we’re not precluded from saying ‘hey, we need a finance committee.’”

 

Resident Bryan Bradley, who sat on the committee and once ran for trustee in 2005 and 2006, feels the committee can still be viable, specifically in analyzing and project what district contracts will cost Mineola. He says this was brought up in previous discussions.

 

“The last few years, we have had a lack of direction,” he said. “You have the committee project what contracts will cost you over the course of the contract. There’s a lot of projections when contracts come up. You can have us see if they are accurate.”

 

Bradley questioned the structuring the teacher’s contract, specifically increases. The district reached an agreement on a new contract in November 2012. Total year-to-year salaries went up 1 percent, according to District Superintendent Michael Nagler.

 

“The increase from year to year is half the money until the end,” Nagler said. “We generate a $250,000 surplus in the teachers salary line for two budget cycles. The last budget cycle, we don’t.” 

 

With the budget, Nagler says the surplus comes from not paying the full amount for the first six months of the school year.

 

“In the budget, we’re calculating a full STEP each year,” Nagler said. “We’re not paying a full STEP for half of the year. That’s why you can’t show a reduction in the budget but you can show the surplus that money wasn’t spent. We showed a surplus last year. We’re going to show one this year.”


News

In a typical Long Island community packed with houses and backyards, there are a couple of acres of open land of community gardens where people are growing basil and dahlias and roses and cabbages—people like Terry Dunckey of Westbury and Peg Woerner of Great Neck, tending their small plots and helping to promote sustainable and organic practices.

East Meadow Farm, off Merrick Avenue, is owned by Nassau County and operated by Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Nassau County. Previously it was a family-owned farm that was purchased by the county through the Environment Bond Act Program, a $150 million program that called for, among several mandates, the preservation of 400 acres of open space. In 2009, CCE of Nassau was awarded the lease to the land and in January 2012 took possession of the property. East Meadow Farm is a place where we can get the best advice on how to make our gardens grow without harming the earth. Part of the CCE’s original proposal was the establishment of a farmer’s market and, now, the market is open two days a week, a place to purchase organic vegetables and flowers during the growing season.

Drivers—get ready to slow down. Nassau County is currently in the process of installing school zone speed cameras in an effort to enhance safety by encouraging drivers to travel with caution, as well as support law enforcement efforts to crack down on violators and prevent accidents caused by speeding.

Nassau County officials say they’re still investigating locations in the Mineola School District, while leaning towards installing cameras near the North Side or Willets Road schools in the East Williston School District. Cameras could begin operation in September.


Sports

Nobody wants to make excuses, but sometimes when the injury bug hits, it’s impossible to overcome. Mineola Mustangs football head coach Dan Guido, entering his 28th season at helm, knows the injuries were the cause for their first-round defeat at the hands of the West Hempstead Rams last November.

“There was too many injuries on the offensive line last season,” said Guido. “It was supposed to be our strength and it ended up being a weak link by the end of the season.”

Even with those injuries, the Mustangs went 4-4 during the regular season.

The BU15 Mineola Revolution were crowned champions of the Roar at the Shore Tournament 2014 in West Islip on Aug. 10. After dropping the opener 2-0 against North Valley Stream, Mineola bounced back to beat Freeport Premiere 2-1.

The Revolution’s offense exploded in the third game as they beat West Islip 7-0. Mineola’s final game pitted them against Quickstrike FC, which entered the contest without a loss and within a point of winning the tournament.


Calendar

Zoning Meeting

Thursday, Aug. 28

Mineola Village Meeting

Wednesday, Sept. 3

School Board Meeting

Thursday, Sept. 4



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
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The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
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