With term limits set to expire for three positions on the Levittown Public School Board of Education, challengers have emerged, sparking contended races for two seats currently held by incumbent trustees Michael Pappas and Peter Porrazzo.
Backed by the district’s teachers union, the two newcomers—Marianne Adrian and Karen Smith—hope to bring a different perspective to the school board on issues surronding its fiscal planning and communication with the community.
“Having developed strong relationships with teachers, administrators, legislators and parents has not only been important to my children’s educational development, but for all of our district members,” said Adrian, a Levittown parent. “I am committed to making sound decisions and choices that will benefit all of the children in the Levittown Schools, and in turn relate them to the actual needs and requests of our families and community members.”
Dressed in their Sunday best, churchgoers came to the First Presbyterian Church of Levittown to take part in the biggest celebrated Sunday in the Christian year.
A special holiday calls for a special service, which was led by Reverend Terri Yvette Cissé-Ofori. There were flowers decorating the inside of the church as well as musicians playing their instruments throughout the service.
“Today is Resurrection Sunday,” said Cissé-Ofori. “Normally people call it Easter, but we celebrate the rising of Christ. We believe that Jesus rose from the dead, and he’s still alive.”
While Island Trees School District officials plan to reexamine a proposal to develop senior housing on 11.3 acres of property currently used to house the Stephen E. Karopczyc and Geneva N. Gallow schools, district officials have so far been unwilling to identify the developer.
The plan to sell the Farmedge property was first conceived in 2010, when BOCES dropped its lease on the Gallow school. The school district issued a request for proposals. After reviewing its options, the Island Trees Board of Education selected and presented to the
public a proposal to develop 160 to 247 housing units for seniors over 55.After public outcry against the project, the district said it would go back to the drawing board, re-opening discussions and engaging a wide range of stakeholders. However, despite requests from the public and the press, the district has steadfastly declined to identify the developer of the initial proposal—which may yet end up being the winning bid.
After announcing his resignation from the Levittown School District last January, Superintendent Dr. James Grossane has accepted a new job as Superintendent of the Smithtown Central School District.
“I look forward to the new challenges awaiting me in the Smithtown Central School District,” Grossane said. “I wish the Levittown Public Schools and its students, parents and staff all the best as they continue to move forward to meet the challenges of the 21st century.”
The Levittown Board of Education unanimously adopted a $198.7 million spending plan for the 2014-2015 school year, which comes with a proposed tax levy increase of 1.62 percent. This represents a $2.1 million increase from last year, for a proposed levy of $133.2 million.
The Levittown school district will receive $49,163,299 in state aid for the 2014-2015 school year, which increased by $690,049 from last year’s budget. The other revenues also show an increase of $684,250 from last year.
In the past seven years, the district received its largest percentage of state aid in 2008-2009 with 30 percent. According to Assistant Superintendent Bill Pastore, state aid has decreased since then, leveling off for the past few years and coming in at slightly below 25 percent for 2014-15.
On April 8, members of the Levittown Property Owners Association invited all seven candidates in the running for Island Trees School District Board of Education to a “Meet the Candidates” forum. Of the seven only four attended, and only three spoke on the dais.
According to Levittown Property Owners President Diane Kirk, members of the Island Trees School District were invited to attend the forum, but declined stating that they were going to attend their own forum on May 12.
Challenger Brian Fielding, a 1995 Island Trees High School graduate, opened the forum with the promise of more transparency.
Due to what appears to be a colossal error on the part of the Nassau County Assessor’s office, or perhaps an errant interpretation of state law, nearly 2,000 military veterans and Gold Star families in Levittown and Island Trees will have to wait for their tax break until next year.
Both the Levittown and Island Trees school districts are among several local school districts that recently approved resolutions extending the exemption to local veterans, even though budgets and Albany’s tax cap make it a tough choice. Earlier this year, trustees in both districts voted unanimously to provide a school tax exemption for veterans living in the district, starting with the 2014-15 school year.
In response to the criticism from the community over the proposed sale of 11.3 acres of school district property housing the Stephen E. Karopczyc and Geneva N. Gallow school facilities, the Island Trees Board of Education has revealed the details of an $18 million proposal to develop housing for seniors (age 55 and up).
“People should be aware of the whole story,” said Island Trees Schools Superintendent Dr. Charles Murphy. “There is this perception that [the board] acted hastily... It was not just a quick decision over chump change.”
The ELIJA school for autistic children has just settled into its new home, after signing a three-year lease to rent out the 13-room Laurel Lane primary school in Levittown. On World Autism Awareness Day, April 2, ELIJA school stakeholders gathered with county, town and school officials for the ceremonial ribbon-cutting event.
“This is a fantastic use of the property,” said Hempstead Town Councilman Gary Hudes. “It involves and helps people in the community.”
ELIJA—which stands for Empowering Long Island’s Journey Through Autism—is a not-for-profit organization that was founded by two parents in the spring of 2002 and uses applied behavior analysis to keep educational programs effective, exciting, enjoyable, for children with austistic spectrum disorders.
Due to the recent buzz surrounding the use of e-cigarettes by minors, the Island Trees School District Board of Education recently voted to enact a campus-wide ban of electronic cigarette use by students, teachers, parents, faculty and staff.
Although marketed as a means to help people quit smoking, e-cigarettes still contain all the addictive properties of the traditional cigarette.
“It is promoted as an alternative to cigarettes, but it is really not,” said Island Trees Schools Superintendent Dr. Charles Murphy. “It is the same thing, basically, as smoking... this isn’t a healthy alternative.”
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