It’s no secret that the Garden City Union Free School District and Garden City High School are ranked among the best in the country. Ninety-nine percent of the Class of 2012 students are attending college and graduating with a Regents Diploma, with 81 percent of those graduates earning diplomas with Advanced Designation. While many factors can be attributed to these impressive statistics, the strongly held belief that a strong arts and music program is a crucial element of this success according to residents.
Look no further than the recent ribbon cutting celebrating the completion of the $10.5 million expansion and renovations of Garden City High School. The money was a chunk of the $36.5 million school investment bond and energy performance resolution passed by taxpayers in 2009. According to the school administration, a weak economy, low interest rates and a limited number of plan modifications had the estimated expenditure of the project drop to $33.9 million as of December 2012, resulting in the district saving an estimated $2.6 million. As far as New York State Education Department Regents Member Roger Tilles is concerned, it’s money well spent.
Hurricane Sandy – According to forecasting firm Eqicat, Hurricane Sandy caused somewhere between $30 to $50 billion worth of damage in the United States. On a local level, Garden City got slammed pretty hard by the storm not only losing power throughout the village for an extended period of time, but losing approximately 575 trees, (72 percent of which were oaks according to Tanners Pond Environmental Center head Rob Alvey), as well as spending $4.5 million for clean-up efforts of which approximately 87.5 percent will be refunded by the federal and state governments.
School Budget Passes – At a time when school districts around New York State are trying to pass budgets that stay within a state-mandated two percent cap, the Village of Garden City got its 2012-2013 school budget passed by a margin of 1,820-1,044. The passage of the proposed $104,215,528 budget was an increase of $3,098,470, a 3.06 percent increased over its 2011-12 predecessor. Cost control efforts that included a renegotiation of the Garden City Teachers Association (GCTA) contract that represented an overall savings of approximately $675,000 for the 2012-13 school year, staff minimization and the district’s continued membership in a number of purchasing consortiums helped bring the proposed budget number down. Along the way, class size guidelines were maintained, special programs were retained and no buildings closed. The May announcement of the school budget passing coincided with U.S. News and World Report recently ranking Garden City High School 138 nationally, a gain of 60 places since 2010.
6. The End Of One Era And The Start Of Another – When Commissioner Ernie J. Cipullo filed his retirement papers with the village, he capped off a distinguished 51-year career serving Garden City after reporting for his first day of duty on April 20, 1961. During this time, Cipullo not only received 27 departmental citations as a police officer, but served in a number of high-ranking positions as president and vice-president on numerous professional organizations including the Garden City P.B.A. and the Nassau Police Conference. His successor is Kenneth Jackson, who the old commissioner personally hired back in 1985 and served as a mentor to since then. The recently-minted commissioner is no slouch himself, having racked up numerous awards and accolades including the New York American Legion Law and Order Award (twice). A smoother transition to one of the community’s more crucial areas couldn’t have been pulled off better.
What do Dr. Maulana Karenga, Anna Jarvis, and Garden City’s own Robert Alvey have in common? They each founded a holiday to celebrate the human ideals we cherish. Dr. Karenga founded Kwanzaa as a celebration of African American family, culture and community. Anna Jarvis founded Mother’s Day to extol the virtues of motherhood. Rob Alvey founded the Garden City Bird Sanctuary/Tanners Pond Nature Preserve and in so doing inspired the board of directors to found Winterfest in January 2009. Our holiday is a celebration of the difference that each of us can make for this world to become a better place.
Rob’s selfless dedication to the environment and helping others is embodied in him and our volunteers/supporters with some of the best traits humanity has to offer, such as environmental stewardship, volunteerism, and hope for a better tomorrow because of the efforts that people of good will do for each other today. It is, therefore, my honor to invite all who wish to be there to the 5th Annual Winterfest. See the GCBS’s own holiday that celebrates these very same characteristics and honors our supporters as “people of good will” (a phrase you will hear quite a lot at our ceremonies)! Hence, our festivities are held the second Saturday of January each year. This year they will be held on January 12.
The Western Property Owners Association (WPOA) will hold its Annual Resident Electors’ Meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 15, at 7:30 p.m. at Homestead School. Nominating Committee Chairman Maureen Traxler will present the committee’s selection for village and school board candidates. Following WPOA procedures, Western residents will vote on the committee’s nominees.
In light of the devastation of the Garden City tree population as a result of Super Storm Sandy, the WPOA has invited an arborist to speak at the January meeting about various kinds of trees, their hardiness and root systems, as well as the proper care of trees, and replanting options.
“I don’t believe it would be feasible to occupy the building for that [estimate],” Erwin said. “That price [of $8.2 million] is underestimated and there needs to be additional work along with the simple issue of overcoming the building’s safety issues, which are out of everybody’s control. [That’s] really up to the building inspectors and other parties.”
Angela Susan Anton, publisher and CEO of Anton Community Newspapers, has named John Owens editor-in-chief of the 17-newspaper chain. Owens is an award-winning journalist and long-time publishing executive known for building strong editorial teams and producing targeted, must-read publications.
“John is a proven editorial leader with fresh ideas, energy and vision,” said Ms. Anton. “Our organization has long been the source for community news, and now, with John spearheading the effort, our editorial success can soar to the next level.”
Spirits were high on Friday evening, Dec. 14, as Garden City’s Western Section hosted a holiday tree lighting. Local families and friends slowly gathered around the tree to talk and laugh, awaiting the many performances, and the big moment. Gallery Pizzeria and Restaurant was a popular place for people of all ages to come in from the cold and enjoy slices of pizza and hot coffee. Tom Whalen, president of The Western Property Owners’ Association (W.P.O.A.), was there to kick off the night, starting with a moment of silence and remembrance for the Newtown, CT tragedy that occurred earlier that day. Special thanks were also given to businesses in the area that provided food, and CupCake Corner for providing free hot chocolate.
Garden City residents were invited to take a tour of the high school Tuesday, Dec. 11 to see the numerous improvements that have taken place to the building as a result of the 2009 school investment bond and energy performance project.
Members of the board of education, including Superintendent of Schools Robert Feirsen, along with some of the contractors and architects who worked on the building, walked residents through the new music addition and updated classrooms and offices, explaining the changes that were completed over the summer.
In the days following the Dec. 14 school shootings in Newtown, CT, the response from the Garden City Public School District was instantaneous. Dr. Robert Feirsen, the district superintendent, drafted a letter that was immediately emailed to students’ parents reassuring them of the district’s efforts to provide a safe and secure environment. Among the programs in place are a detailed safety plan that is annually updated, unannounced drills and tabletop exercises that have the district interacting with first responders and safety experts. It’s this thoroughness of communication between the schools and parents that reassures PTA President Cristina Kilberg.
“We had two correspondences over the weekend—one from Dr. Feirsen assuring parents that everything was going to be taken into consideration from school security to how the children adjust to this news,” Kilberg said before adding. “We also got a correspondence from the principal of the middle school who also did the same thing—reassured parents and also provided a couple of links to places to go for [counseling] information and also what’s appropriate to tell children.”
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