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Slight Hike In Budget

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.”

News

Gould A. ‘Stretch’ Ryder III, accomplished sailor, pilot, businessman, civic leader, and steward of the beautiful waterfront of Port Washington, passed away Oct. 24 at The Amsterdam at Harborside Hospice Center in Port Washington.

Stretch, as he was known to all, was well known as part of the crew on Ted Turner’s “Courageous” when it won the America’s Cup in 1977. Turner stayed in touch and visited Stretch last week.

Stretch’s life was marked by numerous personal contributions and accomplishments.

Parents concerned about classroom sizes spoke up at the Port Washington Board of Education meeting, as the board passed an approval of the larger sizes.

Parents spoke of class sizes at the district’s elementary being in the mid 20s, an amount they felt compromised the quality of their children’s education.

“The board of education changed our children’s education for the worse,” said one mother of larger average class sizes the board had approved last year. The comment drew clapping from the audience.


Sports

The Port Washington Soccer Club has presented Schreiber High School graduate and captain of the Port Washington Blue Knights, Cameron Boroumand, with the annual $1,000 Joe Cohen Scholarship.

The award, which has been presented annually for over 10 years, was established by the Port Washington Soccer Club to honor Joseph Cohen, a gifted athlete who attended college on a soccer scholarship. He went on to achieve outstanding success, first academically, and then in his professional life.  He gave his time fully and with great heart to innumerable charitable endeavors.

The tough and talented Port Washington volleyball team defeated Hicksville at an away game this past Friday in all three sets.

With strong returning players who also play on club teams year round, the Port Washington team plays with a certain level of chemistry. Megan Murphy and Kelly Nardone led the way with 12 assists and Mia Walker had six kills.


Calendar

Schreiber Symphony Orchestra - November 6

Port Summer Show - November 6

Residents For A More Beautiful Port Washington Meeting - November 7


Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com