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Addition of Classroom Prompts Former Trustee To Speak Out

At the outset of the last New Hyde Park/Garden City Park school board meeting school board president Ernest Gentile made the following announcement: “As the board is committed to examining enrollment based on information received, the superintendent has made a recommendation to the board of education, to add an additional second-grade class for the students at the Manor Oaks School. This will three second-grade classes; two classes of 13 students and one class of 17 students.”

At the end of the announcement there was an eruption of screams, yells and clapping from a group gathered at the board meeting and then one by one they came to the microphone and thanked the superintendent and board for listening to their pleas for another classroom for their second graders so they would not be overcrowded.

Toward the end of the meeting, another resident said she was pleased that the board had implemented three second-grade classes and then went on to say, “We have to revisit the guidelines of class sizes. The days of class sizes of 26 and 27 students in a classroom are over.”

However, at the end of the meeting, at the community comment section, former school board trustee Kurt Langjahr, who is still very involved in the community, addressed the board. He said, “ This is just my opinion and I think, and this is my opinion, that it’s time to think outside the box.”

Langjahr said, “To come back to the beginning of the meeting when you announced the third class room in the second grade. Now, is that so in Hillside Grade and at the Roads School and at Manor Oaks and Garden City Park? Are you maintaining that class size because when I went to school we had 75 kids in the class. I’m not advocating that.

“We could start collecting school taxes in a little different way. There is a school district in Connecticut, a rural school district, but the part that I like is that a homeowner who has property about 10 times the size of my property is paying only $5,000 in property taxes. We need to remember that I was on the board in ‘73 when we cut taxes and it was a tough job and it wasn’t easy.

“You have to maintain local control, but it’s the way we collect the taxes. A person that lives in the Garden City area gets the benefit of the Miracle Mile. The same in Great Neck a person across outside our school district and it’s unfair.

“That is why I have come to you to tell you we need to participate in the National School Boards Association and find out what the other boards do nationally. I am for education and you know it. It’s just a matter of the way we collect our taxes that is hurting our taxpayers. It’s not hurting our students, because that school district in Connecticut spends $12,000 per pupil to educate them.

“Mr. President, you need to look at things outside the box. Central High School representatives please pay attention. When you cut program whether it’s locally or in the high school, I’m appalled. Is it true that you have cut night school, driver’s education, adult education, high school equivalency training and summer school? This is not acceptable.

“What I am trying to tell you is that you have to put pressure on Elmont, Franklin Square and Floral Park and extreme pressure must be put on Sewanhaka Superintendent Warren Meierdiercks to put these programs back. Plus, you need to put pressure on the New York State senate and the legislators and the governor’s office. This MTA tax is also unacceptable.

“I am strictly expressing my opinion about local control and the matter of collecting taxes according to student population would be a better way.

“I was also told that D’Napoli cut $5.7 million out of your budget for some dopey reason that I don’t know. What’s the deal? That’s the word on the street. ”

This was the only response addressed by Langjahr by president Gentile who answered, “We don’t have any word about that.”

Audience member Michelle Chambers, who had mentioned that amount of money cut before said, “I’ll get that to you.”

State Audit Report

President Gentile then read a statement regarding state audit report. He said, “ The state audit was accepted by the board of education at the July meeting. The board was pleased to see that there was a recommendation regarding only two areas. The business office regarding wire transfers and in the technology department regarding testing and recovery plan. Plus, maintaining proper temperature in the server room and adopting a computer use policy. Tonight the board prepared to accept the corrective action plan. The plan will be filed with the state education department in accordance with the law

“Further the internal auditors conducted an Annual Risk Assessment update and they reviewed the controls in place within the district and determined that there are areas for improvement. This year there were only two areas where they recommended tightening controls and the district has already implemented their suggestions.

“I would just like to say that this is a testament, not just to superintendent Robert Katulak, but also to the business department where Michael Frank works diligently with the all the auditors, not just internal but external and recently a state audit. I was in the meeting with the state auditor and not in their report, but privately, they said that this was one of the best districts they have reported on.”

President Gentile then proposed to accept the New York State Comptroller’s Audit Report to approve the corrective action plan prepared as a response to the findings of the New York State Audit and it was approved,

New Business

In the new business section of the meeting Superintendent Katulak said, “I don’t know how many of you follow The New York Times, but they reported the results of the New York State test scores and New Hyde Park/Garden City Park has an overall rank in the 96 percentile and ranked 23 in the 695 districts in the state. So that’s a testimony of the hard work of all of our teachers and it’s great to hear good news, but we have to take it with a grain of salt though because we realize we do not have a component high school in the district so we don’t have Regents and graduation grades being figured into the mix, but we will take the good.”

Other Questions

Asked by Public

In other business a resident wanted to know what streets fall into what district. President Gentile said he didn’t have that information available to him, but to call the main office and they would be glad to provide that information to her. She said she wanted to know just which roads had been designated in what district.

The meeting ended with president Gentile announcing that the board was then moving into executive session.

Please Note: Superintendent Robert Katulak’s monthly message may be seen in “From the Desk of Katulak.”