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Island Trees Starts Budget Meetings

Island Trees School District started the budget process on Wednesday, February 27 at the first of a series of budget meetings. Each school principal had the opportunity to present their budgets, all down from previous years, while the board had a chance to ask questions and make cuts. 

However, a new tech program started at the high school level last year, as well as some questionable budget allotments, put Nick Grande, high school principal, in the hot seat. 

Last year, the high school began offering a new tech course, and Grande explained that it did not take the place of another course; the school just had less children in other sections. Patricia Mahon, school board president, said that she – and the rest of the board – were not made aware of the new program and was not happy about it. 

“We are doing budget cuts,” she said. “If we are creating a new subject area, I know I would like to know about it, as would the rest of the board.”

In addition, agenda pads for high school freshman got cut as well as money for departmental meetings. “If they want to supply cookies and snacks for their departmental meetings, tell them to reach into their pockets,” Mahon said. 

The budgets for the other schools went a little more smoothly with very little suggestions of cuts. “If we are operating within a 2 percent tax cap as a board, we are hoping that everyone is keeping their costs flat or a little below last year,” said Mahon. 

However, Superintendent Dr. Charles Murphy explained that the pension situation is a balloon and he is hopeful that the Governor will find a way to handle it. “With 2016 coming up fast, I am sure that by the end, they will find some relief with the pension situation,” he said, inferring that the Governor will want to run for President of the United States and will want to be able to have something to show the rest of the country. 

The district also discussed how planning for last year ended up saving the district additional headaches and costs in the end, with BOCES having to return money to the district as well as the County Guaranty not going through. “Because we budgeted for the County Guaranty, we now have a little cushion,” Murphy said. 

Before the meeting adjourned, however, a concerned parent brought a circulating rumor to the board about a school building being sold. “We’re selling a building, that’s the rumor that is going around. Is that true? Are we really selling a building?,” she asked. 

“Anything is a possibility,” replied Murphy, who explained that BOCES will be returning a building to them at the end of this year and that the district will need to look for other sources of income for that building. 

“But, what if it is partitioned and rented for different things. I know in business that you never want to lose property, so doesn’t it make sense to keep the building?,” she replied. 

Murphy cited that enrollment has been steadily decreasing during the past 17 years and there is really no reason to keep a building that will most likely continue to remain vacant. “Like I said,” he explained, “Anything is a possibility.” 


News

The recent adoption the Common Core Learning Standards, a rigorous series of teacher and student assessment testing, and the potential sharing of confidential student information with third parties have resulted in a radical change in the educational landscape in New York State—one that many parents have been concerned about.

To address these growing concerns, the Great Neck School District’s United Parent Teacher Council recently hosted a question and answer session at South High School with New York State Regent Roger Tilles, a Great Neck resident who has been outspoken with both his support of content the Common Core and his disapproval in how the new set of learning standards have been implemented.

At a meeting last week, after almost four hours of back and forth between Clover Drive residents, the attorney representing builder Frank Lalazarian’s controversial Old Mill II project and members of the Village of Great Neck’s Planning Board, there was very little progress, no vote taken and far more questions than answers.

The subdivision plan, a project under discussion for the last five years and recently approved by the village’s Zoning Board of Appeals, calls for 11 houses to be built in the area behind the Old Mill Apartments, with sole access from Clover Drive. Complicating the builder’s efforts to gain approval to start building is the fact that one of the lots is within the boundaries of Great Neck Estates and will require that village’s approval also.  Additionally, Lalazarian’s project must gain the approval of several Nassau County agencies, including its department of public works, department of health and planning commission.


Sports

The Bears team before a recent game at the Andrew Stergiopoulos Ice Rink with Coach Dan Marsella.

Great Neck’s Ayal Hod is the proud coach of Great Neck’s winning Top Gun sixth grade team in the Island Garden Fall League. Hod puts together the team every season, mixing local youngsters from Great Neck and children son Dillon’s AAU Jamaica Queens team. The league is very competitive and challenging and it teaches the children many valuable lessons: “how to be great teammates by sharing the ball, how to compete hard on every possession and what you put in is what you get out.”

Hod says that the main challenge is for every child to bring their individual talent to the team and collectively they have something special. an ex-player, he says that “basketball was very good to me, it helped pay my college education and it  paid my-bills for many years to come via several basketball commercials ... basketball also opened many doors for me and it helped me tremendously in my business career.”

Hod enjoys sharing his basketball journey background with his son and his friends and having them learn lessons too.


Calendar

Park District Swim

Saturday, Dec. 7

Board of Education Meeting

Monday, Dec. 9

Peter Max Exhibit Presentation

Tuesday, December 10



Columns

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

Sustainable LI: Getting Good Things Done
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LI’s ‘Most Prominent Lady In Politics’
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