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Budget Revealed, Vet Break Approved

The New Hyde Park-Garden City Park School District unveiled the first draft of the 2014-15 operating budget on Monday, March 10.

 

For the 2014-15 school year, the district has proposed a budget of $36,004,325; a 1.35 percent increase over the last year’s budget. This is the smallest increase percentage-wise in 10 years, according to district officials. This is also the sixth year in a row that the

district did not have to lay off any teachers.     

 

The average household tax bill for the elementary school district would be $3,112.29, which does not factor in the Sewanhaka Central High School District taxes.  

 

The budget will be put to a vote on May 20. If it fails, the district will be placed on a contingency budget $475,790 less than what the board is budgeting for. The average taxpayer would save only around 14 cents a day if the contingency budget is enacted.

 

“A big thank you is owed to the directors and the building principals, and anybody that has had any input,” Assistant Superintendent for Business Michael Frank says. “Everybody was asked, ‘What do they need?’ and everybody was willing to say ‘I can need less, I can deal with less.’”    

 

Frank and Superintendent Robert Katulak highlighted areas of interest in the budget. All major programs have been preserved. The average class size is averaging 22 students, officials say. Educational clinics are still available to students in grades 3-6 that scored one or two on standardized tests.

 

This summer will see the implementation of capital reserve projects voted on last spring. The projects featured security upgrades to the schools. Security cameras, video-intercoms, new doors, handicap access ramps, an upgraded public address system and panic buttons will be installed. 

Vet Exemption Approved

The much-debated veteran’s tax exemption was unanimously approved by the school board last week.

 

The board held an open forum about the proposed tax exemption for veterans. David Selig, a resident and veteran, spoke up and represented several veterans in attendance. 

 

“I would like to strenuously urge all of you who are perhaps on the fence to vote in favor of this,” he said. “These are some of my neighbors, all honorably discharged, and it’s very important to us and we’re asking you to please throw in with us.”

 

Board trustee David Del Santo also spoke in support of the veterans, saying, “they put it on the line for us and now it’s time for our community to give back.” 

 

Veterans from the community are now eligible for elementary school tax exemptions based on three levels of criteria: service, seeing combat, and suffering an injury in the line of duty.  The tax break also applies to the spouse of diseased veterans, but cannot be transferred to multiple properties owned by the veteran. It’s possible to qualify for more than one break.   

 

The exemption’s approval will not change the total amount of money the district will receive from taxes. The difference will be picked up by the rest of the community. According to census data from the county, there are 284 residents who qualify for the non-active combat exemption, 326 that saw combat, and 27 that suffered a disability.

 

“I always remind myself what’s going on in the world and all the great people—men and women—that have served our country time and time again and sacrifice so we can live free and safe every day,” trustee Frank Miranda said.