The board of education (BOE) meeting, held on February 11th, opened its session with recognition of the music department and students who participated in All-County Music Festival at LIU Post’s Tilles Center for the Performing Arts.
After holding a moment of silence for the Garcia family, the administration thanked Mrs. Shannon Kelly, science teacher at the HS, for her excellent grant proposal writing efforts. She helped secure 21 grants in the total amount of $1.2 million and she is in pursuit of additional grants.
Mrs. Ricca, assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction, and educational services commented on the three pre-K classes that have recently started. There were also three SAT classes opened and they have high enrollment. In reference to the contradicting information on the Common Core flowing from the governor’s office and the state education department (SED), she stated “we are going to sit back and let them argue it out, …we’re continuing on with our curriculum and tests and see what’s going to unfold over the couple of next few months.” Mrs. Ricca also addressed the question of study halls from the last school board meeting. Her research into the matter revealed low numbers of study halls. The number of students attending the study halls is expected to drop even further, as more students will be put to AIS classes in the second semester to prepare them for tests.
Dr. Hunderfund, Malverne superintendent, announced 3 makeup days for the snow days. They’ll be April 11th and 21st, and May 23rd. More changes may come.
A new tax relief program for veterans was announced to compensate for the reduction of benefits veterans suffered recently. It’s up to NY school boards whether to adopt resolutions to provide the exemptions and to what extent. Few veterans, present at the meeting, asked questions on what criteria the BOE is going to decide. The district counsel explained that the BOE doesn’t decide on individual cases, but on the level in each of the three categories of exemptions.* The amount of money that won’t be collected due to the veterans’ exemptions will have to be paid by other residents. They asked for input from residents. The hearing will be held on March 11th at 8 pm in the HS library.
Mr. Caputo and Colaitis, in concert, presented the 2014-2015 proposed budget. The presentation is available at the district website. The district intends to stay within the imposed tax cap (2.08%) which allows to increase the budget only by $833,000 instead of $3 million needed. 78% of the proposed school budget is planned to be covered by property taxes and 17% by state aid. A graph displaying the decreasing state aid over the past several years was shown.** Mr. Colaitis stated “81% [of the budget] are spent on instructional salaries.” (That includes pensions).
Mrs. Ricca explained the proposed reduction of 11.5 instructional as well as non-instructional staff (FTE) will result in increased class sizes in the middle and high schools. Eliminating non-mandated programs, reducing electives, canceling after-school activities and athletic teams will be necessary.
The future budget meetings will be held at 7 pm on Feb. 25th, March 8th and 18th.
* The veterans’ exemption represents 15 percent reductions in assessed value for veterans who served during a time of war, another 10 percent for those who were in combat zones, and an additional reduction for service-connected disabilities. Basic info is in this document. (pdf)
** The “gap elimination adjustment” (GEA) law was introduced for the 2010-11 fiscal year as a way to help close New York’s then $10 billion budget deficit. Under the legislation, a portion of the funding shortfall at the state level is divided among all school districts throughout the state and reflected as a reduction in school district state aid. The GEA is a negative number, money that is deducted from the aid originally projected for the district based on the state’s aid formula. Basic info is in this document. (pdf)