Written by Pete Sheehan email@example.com Friday, 22 March 2013 00:00
Ways to cut an anticipated $937,515 revenue gap in next year’s school budget occupied the Oyster Bay-East Norwich Board of Education at their recent meeting.
Phyllis Harrington, superintendent of schools for the Oyster Bay-East Norwich Central School District, outlined cutbacks in elementary school class size, reducing one fulltime position in the English as a Second Language (ESL) support program to a part-time positions, and reduction in athletic programs and some elementary co-curricular activities at the board’s March 12 meeting at the Oyster Bay High School Library.
The meeting is the latest in a series of meetings to set the budget for the 2013-14 school year in time for voter approval on May 21 (See Oyster Bay Enterprise Pilot March 1.
At earlier meetings, school district officials explained the estimated spending plan of $53,967,475 necessary to maintain existing school programs — a $2,440,071 increase, 4.74 percent over the current budget. School officials noted that they anticipated a 3.06 percent increase in revenue, accounting for the $937,515 revenue gap.
In other business, the board voted to ask for voter approval for extending the district’s capital projects fund and to seek voter approval for as much as $1,720,000 in capital projects for the 2013-14 school year. Both ballot measures were discussed at the board’s previous meeting.
After outlining the cutbacks necessary, Harington announced that “we can meet the gap without cutting anything at the high school” other than limited cuts in the athletic programs. Some of the audience members broke out in applause in response.
Harrington detailed the specific reductions in class size at James H. Vernon Middle School, which would involve reducing the number of sections in grades four and six. Despite the reductions, she noted, class sizes at the two schools will continue to conform to the class size policy guidelines set by the board in the past.
In addition, Harrington detailed reductions recommended by the athletic department, including cutting two assistant junior varsity lacrosse coaches, two middle school lacrosse coaches, and one middle school football coach.
Furthermore, the athletic department recommended cutting the number of “yellow coats.” “Yellow coats” are staff members who wear yellow coats while monitoring the crowds and provide assistance at home games and meets. Yellow coats would be eliminated for middle school field hockey, track, and volleyball, and reduced for junior varsity boys and girls basketball and varsity football.
Other cost-saving measures include cutting the number of middle school athletic contests by 15, junior varsity by 19, and varsity by 42 to save on transportation and officiating. Varsity wrestling, track, cross-country, and golf teams would also attend fewer invitationals.
“Is it really necessary to have the yellow coats?” Dr. Michael Castellano, a board member, asked.
“They are there as a back-up” in case problems arise, Harrington explained. They are mostly teachers who know the students and are able to deal with potential difficulties.
Jim Mattel, school board vice president, wondered if the Town of Oyster Bay Public Safety personnel, whose cars are commonly seen round town, might be called in to assist at sporting events and save on yellow coats.
“I never explored that,” Harrington said. “It’s certainly worth looking into.”
Jim Robinson, a school board member, remarked, “You have a responsibility for the decorum of the crowd,” but added that there haven’t been problems.
Castellano suggested that if crowd control is a problem, perhaps there shouldn’t be spectators at events.
Harrington also explained that at Vernon, they would cut back on co-curricular activities other than student council, Leaders’ Club, and intramural sports. In response to a question, from board member Maryann Santos, Harrington replied that such activities as the chess club and the art club would be cut.
There are other anticipated expenses relating to taxes and other issues, Harrington explained. By taking a “calculated risk” and not including them in the budget — because of indications that the district will ultimately not have to pay for them — the district would save $220,000.
At the next meeting, March 19, Harrington noted, the board will consider the issue of revenue. She also explained that there is still hope that some state aid will be restored.
In other action, the board approved the hiring of a new science and technology learning supervisor, Janna Ostroff, for kindergarten through high school. “We are quite happy,” Harrington said, “to add her to our already amazing team.”
Wednesday, 12 March 2014 00:00
It was a positive night for our local veterans, as the Oyster Bay/East Norwich Board of Education approved the Veteran’s Tax Exemption Law at last week’s board of education meeting. The new school tax break for veterans, signed into law in December, is a partial property tax exemption available to service veterans who are residents of districts that opt in. The meeting was a follow up to a public hearing on the tax exemption which took place on Feb. 11.
Eligible recipients are entitled to the exemptions provided in the Real Property Tax Law under the designations of “qualified owner,” “qualifying residential real property,” and “veteran.” Recipients are entitled to a maximum of $12,000 (qualified owner), $8,000 (qualifying residential real property), and $40,000 (veteran).
Saturday, 08 March 2014 00:00
Local author Rajdeep Paulus of Locust Valley is living the writer’s dream. After having her first young adult novel published last year with positive reviews, she has just released her second novel, and will be holding a book signing at The Book Revue in Huntington on March 12.
Her first book, Swimming Through Clouds, is about a high school transfer student and her friendship with the basketball captain during their senior year. The sequel, Seeing Through Stones, was released March 1.The mom of four girls only recently tried her hand at novel writing; an English major in college who then taught for a few years, says, “I spent about a decade doing the mom thing...then as my youngest got to be school age, my husband asked me, ‘What do you want to do with your life now?’”
Thursday, 06 March 2014 12:01
On Saturday, Feb. 22, as temperatures rose to well above freezing for the first time in weeks and the melting snow created a thick fog, the Oyster Bay High School Varsity Lady Baymen Basketball Team showed up at Long Island University ready to play.
Thursday, 27 February 2014 11:48
The Winter Varsity Sports Season is into post-season play in Oyster Bay. Many fine young athletes have excelled this season and were chosen by the Oyster Bay High School coaches as Athletes of the Month for February.
Cassidy Exum has been a member of the varsity wrestling team since his freshman year. Since that time, he has achieved All-County honors, which includes a Nassau County Small School County Championship. This year, Exum started his competitive season with success. He was a place winner in the annual Locust Valley Tournament, a Hank Paris Tournament Champion and a Bethpage Tournament Champion, where he was presented with the Champion of Champions Award. Exum’s success is due to his work ethic, dedication and discipline.; he is a fierce competitor which will help him as he competes for his second Nassau County Championship. Exum is coached by 2012 Coaches of the Year Jay Davis and Doug Axman.