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From The Desk Of Superintendent Robert Katulak

It’s A Process

How does, what looks like such an easy task, turn into choreographing the most intricate dance in history? Welcome to the New York State education district budget development process. Just when we have it down to a science, we get thrown additional curve balls or our lead dancer breaks a toe. 

The New Hyde Park-Garden City Park School District has worked closely with the community over the past five years to have a budget process that takes community input regarding the quality of educational program offerings and balances the dance moves with fiscal responsibility to our taxpayers.

We have sharpened each dance step by making sure we look for budget efficiencies whenever possible. We have consolidated transportation runs, shared staff development costs with other districts, and applied for grants, which have been awarded whenever we have met the eligibility requirements. We have refinanced our debt to take advantage of the interest’s rates, and have saved over $1.5 million over the life of the debt service. We have created this wonderful dance piece and still have preserved all our programs and staff.

Now, the state throws another unfunded mandate at us. We have been notified that we must build our technology hardware so that we will be able to have an entire grade level, anywhere from 50 to 80 students, sit at the same time to take the new, New York State Assessments, which will be rolled out in the 2014 –15 school year. This gives us two years to get this in place while fiscally fighting for survival of a well-rounded educational program. This needs to stop! We have complied with the 2 percent tax levy. We have trimmed any extras, little to start with, and have created sound budgets that preserve programs, staff and do not hurt our taxpaying constituents. However, now there is no place left to go. We are supporters of the Common Core Learning Standards and the assessments designed to measure students’ mastery of them.

Therefore, someone needs to keep in mind the principle dancers of this piece, our students. By insisting we spend this money on the computer hardware to take this test (a snapshot in time); we will be sacrificing programs and staff to pay for the extra computers. How about the scheduling of these exams? Why not offer each district a week for each grade to administer the tests, so they can utilize the well equipped computer labs, over the course of the week to give the test to the entire grade. We need to put an end to this.

Please send an e-mail or letter to your representatives to get us the financial support for these “extra mandates;” so that we can use our remaining resources to continue our well-deserved existing programs!


News

Drivers—get ready to slow down. Nassau County is currently in the process of installing school zone speed cameras in an effort to enhance safety by encouraging drivers to travel with caution, as well as support law enforcement efforts to crack down on violators and prevent accidents caused by speeding.

Nassau County officials say Sewanhaka High School will receive a camera on Covert Avenue, which spans the eastern stretch of the property. Tulip Avenue runs in front of the high school and was also considered. Cameras could begin operation in September.

The Village of New Hyde Park finished its Operation Main Street project just in time, because the town’s eligibility for federal funds is shrinking, officials announced last week.

“The qualifications revolve around money,” trustee Donald Barbieri said. “Like how much income is being earned by people in the area. I guess as seniors move on, you can’t buy an [expensive home] and it changed the demographic, shrinking our eligible area.”


Sports

New York Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler and catcher Travis d’Arnaud brightened the day for some patients at Cohen Children’s Medical Center last week in New Hyde Park, posing for pictures and handing out gifts and autographs. The players hung out with the kids in the afternoon, playing video games and answering questions.

They also found the time to make the rounds, stopping by bedsides to spread some cheer. Mr. Met also joined the tour and was a big hit with the children, who peppered him with questions about everything from his four-fingered hand to the whereabouts of the missing Mrs. Met.

The Sewanhaka Indians football team has a season of change in store.

The Indians have moved up from Conference III to Conference II, due to an increase in enrollment, and are set to face teams that they have never seen before, according to head coach George Kasimatis.

“It is hard to gauge where we will be in this conference,” he said. “There is a lot of uncertainty as where we fit in.”


Calendar

Library Board Meeting

Thursday, Aug. 28

Welcome Reception

Wednesday, Sept. 3

Herricks School Meeting

Thursday, Sept. 4



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