Written by Pete Sheehan firstname.lastname@example.org 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.”
Thursday, 16 May 2013 00:00
Dodds and Eder will be hosting a wine and cheese reception on Saturday, May 18 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at their Sag Harbor location to showcase the work of Plein Air Peconic, an artist group dedicated to helping the Peconic Land Trust conserve the natural beauty of the East End. The reception will showcase “At Home in the Natural World” an exhibition and sale of landscape paintings and photographs. The exhibition is on view at Dodds and Eder, which is open Thursday through Monday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Many of the paintings and photographs in the show are larger works composed in the studio from field studies of preserved sites. By painting and photographing images of conserved land and other spaces of the East End, the artists call attention to what has already been accomplished by land conservation and the continuing need to protect these vital resources from unchecked development.
Friday, 17 May 2013 00:00
A large crowd of almost 100 people gathered at 95 Shore Road in Cold Spring Harbor on Saturday, April 27 to celebrate the completion of the environmental clean up at the former Exxon Mobil site. The 8-acre waterfront parcel, where the oil tanks once stood, was donated to the North Shore Land Alliance for conservation purposes.
On a sunny picture-perfect spring afternoon, Land Alliance officers and staff were joined by elected officials, including State Senator Carl Marcellino, Huntington Town Councilmen Mark Cuthbertson and Mark Mayoka, Heather Amster, Region 1, New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and community members to thank ExxonMobil for this valuable gift.
Thursday, 16 May 2013 00:00
According to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, more than five million Americans are suffering with Alzheimer’s disease, the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.
Troubled by these statistics and personally affected, Long Islander and NBA draftee Gordon Thomas founded the Alzheimer’s All-Star Basketball Classic Committee, a group of professionals dedicated to raising awareness of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Thursday, 16 May 2013 00:00
Ronald Caronia, MD, a glaucoma and cataract surgeon and partner of Ophthalmic Consultants of Long Island (OCLI) with Tom Burke, CEO of OCLI, participated in the first annual American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS) Foundation’s “Run for Sight” 5K and 1-mile walk during the ASCRS/ASOA Annual Symposium and Congress in San Francisco. Dr. Caronia hails from Oyster Bay Cove and Mr. Burke is a resident of Islip.
The ASCRS partnered with TearLabs to host this first-ever “Run for Sight” event. It took place on Sunday, April 21 near the beautiful Japanese botanical gardens in Golden Gate Park. The event raised close to $25,000. All proceeds from the race will benefit the ASCRS Foundation’s cataract blindness treatment efforts.