Written by Matthew Ern Thursday, 20 February 2014 00:00
The New Hyde Park-Garden City Park Board of Education heard comments from the community at a special budget workshop before the normal Board of Education meeting on Monday, Feb. 10.
While no figures were released, many parents spoke up praising the efforts the district has made to provide for its students in increasingly dire financial times. A few of them were teachers themselves.
Parents were concerned with the preservation of arts, music, and science programs as well as the after-school clinic for standardized test preparation.
District parent Shan-Ng stressed the importance of clinics and argued that all students should have access to them. Due to budget cuts in recent years, students who performed well enough on practice tests were exempt from clinics. Alice Tiwari, a foreign language teacher at New Hyde Park Memorial High School, echoed these sentiments.
Kieran Griffin, an English teacher at Great Neck North High School offered up a dissenting opinion on clinics.
“You need to remember that 95-98 percent of the preparation for these state exams takes place in the classroom,” said Griffin. The clinics are a nice little Band-Aid to have in the afternoon, and as parents I think it makes us feel better but by and large I don’t want to take away from the work that the teachers do.”
He has opted some of his children out of clinics and says he doesn’t want to dwell too much on standardized test scores.
Superintendent Robert Katulak delivered his monthly report at the board of education meeting immediately following the workshop. He touched on the ongoing effort to crafting a budget that meets both the tax cap and also preserves the
arts and science programs many of the parents voiced concern over. The board has about $200,000 still to reduce from the budget.
“We’re confident we’ll get there without cutting any programs,” Katulak said. Katulak also pointed out that Long Island pays about 17 percent of New York State’s school taxes, but only sees 12 percent back in state aid. He says this in unacceptable and urged parents to keep fighting for better treatment for their schools and children. “Parents are power,” Katulak asserts. “Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”
Trustee David Del Santo gave an update on the ongoing bond issue at the Sewanhaka Central High School District. He says the committee is meeting again to attempt to reduce the bond and will hopefully have another plan
to put to a vote in May. He stressed the importance of the upgrades to those schools’ roofs and security systems and appealed to parents of younger children who would reap the benefits of these upgrades down the road.
Sewanhaka proposed a $99.5 million bond referendum, which lost by 293 votes, with 5,117 total cast in December. The bond failed in New Hyde Park-Garden City Park, 614-347 and gained the only positive vote in Floral Park, 1,111-954.
Major repairs would have been made to New Hyde Park Memorial High School if the bond passed. These included new, synthetic athletic fields for football, soccer, and lacrosse; roof and window repairs, and parking lot repaving.