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School Budget Unveiling Soon

The New Hyde Park-Garden City Park Board of Education talked finalizing the budget for the 2014-15 school year at its work session meeting on Monday, Feb. 24. The budget will be unveiled at the March 10 meeting.  


Talks at the work session centered around what is or isn’t changing next year, and the board announced that they’re dealing with a “maintenance of effort” budget that will retain all current programs and non-mandated activities. Class sizes are expected to average about 21 students.  


“Yes, we are status quo for the upcoming year, and this is a great achievement. It’s an amazing feat compared to the rest of the state,” Vice President Patricia Rudd said.  


The district expects to get a little more state aid money in May, possibly earmarked for technology spending.  


The issue of third-grade education clinics is not addressed in the budget, but the board is heavily leaning towards clinics not being offered to all students, but will be available to those scoring in the lowest percentiles deemed in need of extra help.  


“A lot of parents think that during the clinics there are actual practice tests that go on and that does not happen,” Superintendent Robert Katulak said. “That happens in the regular classroom. The students will still have the opportunity to have that simulated experience with the test.” 


Rudd will be traveling to Albany next month with educators from all over the state to lobby for important issues facing the district. The board urged her to focus on gap elimination, no more earmarked state aid and an end to unfunded mandates.


“They cannot ask us to do more with less,” Katulak said.

Vets Exemption Hearing 


The school board continued to discuss a possible tax exemption for veterans first brought up at last month’s work session. There are three tiers of eligibility based on differing levels of military service: being a veteran, having seen active duty and suffering a disability in the line of duty. It’s possible to qualify for all three.


Six veterans from the community sat in on the meeting and voiced their concerns, urging the board to adopt the exemption.


“Please remember our service to you when you take this vote. Thank you,” said John McGuire, American Legion Post Commander.


The exemption could be phased in over the next few years if enacted, but to avoid “sticker shock” among the residents, Rudd argued against this.  


“If we do go forward with it, we don’t do it in pieces. We do it as one hit,” Rudd said.


The issue can be revisited next year if the exemption gets voted down. So far, out of 56 elementary school districts in Nassau County, seven have voted ‘no,’ while three voted ‘yes,’ and eight are undecided but leaning toward approving it, officials said


“My school taxes are $6,000 and I’m 70 years old,” 34-year New Hyde Park resident Kevin O’Connor said, who served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War. “Governor Cuomo signed the bill with the idea that districts could pass it.”


In order to qualify, the veteran must be the homeowner of a single residence; no one can own multiple properties and get it multiple times. Spouses are still entitled to the tax break if the veteran passes away.     


Katulak stressed “prudent thinking” when the board comes to a decision at their March 10 meeting.