Written by Chris Boyle Thursday, 21 March 2013 00:00
Amid ever-increasing financial burdens facing schools throughout New York, including the state-mandated tax cap, the Farmingdale school board presented the first draft of its budget for the 2013-14 school year, calling for a 1.87 percent tax increase over last year’s figure.
Assistant Superintendent for Business Paul Defendini held an in-depth presentation of the proposed budget at a public workshop at Weldon E. Howitt Middle School, which he said was strenuously crafted this year to ensure the continued quality of education in the Farmingdale school district.
“We had three key points when designing this new budget- one, to stay within the Tax Levy limit; two, maintain the current programs; three, utilize fund balance and reserves to meet those parameters,” he said. “That’s exactly what this budget does. There are no material changes or reductions to the programs next year, and no staff positions will be cut.”
The proposed 2013-14 budget is $153,384,118, which is a 1.87 percent increase over the 2012-13 budget, which was $150,567,160. The present Tax Levy increase stands at 2.96 percent, which amounts to a total of $117,929,974.
“We’ve been at the very bottom of tax levy increases within Nassau County for the last five years,” Defendini said. “Our tax levy increase in 2013-14 will be 2.96 percent, and I suspect most other Nassau school districts will be at or above that.”
Defendini cited multiple financial obstacles that have contributed to the difficulty in creating recent school budgets, including the tax cap; a large increase in the amount of money schools are required to pay into the New York’s teacher pension fund; cuts in state aid; and an increase in the amount of unfunded federal, state, and county mandates.
“The reality is, government in all forms is having a difficult time doing what they need to do, and they’re passing down a lot of their responsibilities to the local agencies...in this case, the school districts,” he said. “This comes at a point in time where we’re having a difficult time absorbing the regular increases with the implementation of the tax cap.”
The contingent budget, created as a back-up in the case that the main budget is defeated by public vote, was also covered. This plan would shave $3,390,372 from the current 2013-14 budget plan, knocking the overall figure down to $149,993,746.
However, Defendini said, a reduction of this scope, applied to a budget already meticulously planned out to the very last cent, would result in drastic cuts that would affect students greatly.
“We would have to reduce class size, elective opportunities, athletic teams, music groups, equipment, activities, support services...everything,” he said. “The community would definitely see a significant program impact due to that kind of a reduction.”
Superintendent John Lorentz, commenting on the current budget draft, stated that the Farmingdale school district is taking a long-term approach when it comes to ensuring the high quality education parents have come to expect from them.
“The budget is something that we develop all year long,” he said. “We pride ourselves in our multi-year budgeting aspect as we go forward and look to the future, because the decisions that we make each year have implications for the decisions that we’ll have to make in the future.”
Thursday, 23 May 2013 00:00
Attendees of the Port Washington Memorial Day parade might see a familiar face waving from the American Legion convertible this year. 90-year-old army veteran Ed Balcourt will be this year’s Grand Marshal.
Balcourt, who was raised in Brooklyn, was attending medical school at the height of the U.S. involvement in World War II. He was deferred from the draft, but at 19, decided to join the army.
“All my friends had been drafted. When I walked outside, I could feel all the women looking at me. I felt a little guilty. I wanted to go fight,” Balcourt said.
Thursday, 23 May 2013 00:00
The Port Washington Veterans of Foreign Wars has selected Peter Ripullone, a decorated soldier and architect, as Co-Grand Marshal of this year’s Memorial Day Parade. The Ripullone family has a long tradition of military service, which dates back to World War I.
Ripullone followed the family tradition and entered military service as a second lieutenant in the army, in 1966. After completing his combat engineering training, he was certified as a combat engineer unit commander. Prior to his service in Vietnam, he spent three months with the 91st Combat Engineers, assisting in the training of West Point cadets at the U.S. Military Academy, for various combat engineering missions, including various types of bridge construction, building and fortification structures, road and runway construction, mine warfare and demolition training.
Thursday, 23 May 2013 00:00
Elimination in the first-round of the county playoffs, though disappointing, can’t take anything away from what the Schreiber High School girls softball team accomplished this year, according to coach Eric Sutz.
A comparison between what happened to the team last year and what the team did this year is a study in contrasts. “Last year we didn’t win one league game,” Sutz explained. “This year we were undefeated in the league.” The Vikings won all 14 of their league games and were 15-4 overall. They were conference champions for the first time since 2004.
Thursday, 16 May 2013 00:00
The fact that Port Washington Youth Activities (PYA) is celebrating its 50th year of working with area boys and girls is quite an accomplishment. Ron Henderson, its executive director for the past 20 years, also has a long history with PYA’s Lions Field that extends all the way back to 1958.
“I played in the first games ever held at the field back then when it was the Port Washington Little League,” said Henderson. “That was before the field was renovated.” The renovation, which began in 1999 and forced the PYA to relocate for two years from its Glen Lane site, now features four Little League fields and one major league field, all on pesticide-free, natural grass. During the fall, the fields are converted for lacrosse and football programs.