We would like to take this opportunity to say “thank you” to those of you who responded so quickly to our request for contributions for the Manhasset/Great Neck EOC’s 2013 summer program.
As many of you are aware, the Manhasset/Great Neck EOC offers a six-week, full-day summer program that includes a variety of activities that reinforce concepts learned during the school year while introducing new ideas, encouraging creativity, and giving approximately 75 children ages five to 13 opportunities to learn new skills and make new friends. Most of the counselors, group leaders, and volunteers who supervise the children are community residents—many of them attended programs at the EOC as children themselves. Volunteers, many of whom are completing high school community service requirements, share their hobbies and talents with the children in the program. In recent years they have taught swimming, tennis, and karate, and led groups of youngsters in cooking and arts & crafts activities.
Thank you to the Manhasset community for turning out in record numbers on June 18 to vote and participate in the process of governing our public schools. We thank everyone who contributed to and who engaged in the discussions surrounding the 2013-14 budget and for understanding the inherent challenges.
Communication—engaging in a healthy and respectful exchange of ideas and perspectives framed by an understanding of the facts and challenges—is an important cornerstone of community life and of the democratic process. We must continue nurturing and educating our youth to a high standard of excellence in a fiscally responsible manner, while operating within the laws, mandates and fiscal constraints governing public schools.
As the Assistant for Strategic Planning, Society of Jesus, New York Province, you have not as yet responded to my phone call and message to the Provision main number.
Many, including myself, recognize the inherent legal right of the Jesuits to “cash in” on their assets and had viewed the sale as “nothing we can do about it” because no one was able to match the $35-37 million sale to the mainland China development group now in contract...until NOW.
Last week my office released the County’s 2012 year-end unaudited fiscal results and reported that the County is expected to end with a budgetary surplus of $41.6 million. The audited results are expected to be released by June 30, 2013. These results include $9.7 million in unanticipated costs representing the County’s 10% portion of Superstorm Sandy related expenditures. The surplus will now go to replenishing our reserve fund, which will increase to approximately $82 million.
The 2012 budgetary surplus was achieved by controlling expenses, refinancing debt at lower rates, imposing a nonessential hiring and wage freeze, and challenging property tax grievances. The improving economy also helped by increasing sales tax income, which is the biggest source of County revenues.
In Aesop’s fable of the Tortoise and the Hare, we learn that “slow and steady wins the race.” Truthfully, many of us probably learned this first from an overconfident Bugs Bunny who challenged Cecil Turtle to a footrace. Who can forget his look-alike cousins who help the slow-talking tortoise outwit Bugs to win the race?
There’s something to be said about enlisting the help of others to steadily accomplish goals and this is true of my effort to protect Long Island’s drinking water. That’s why I’ve introduced legislation to create the Long Island Aquifer Commission.
In response to the failed budget vote on May 21, the Superintendent’s office and the Board of Education have spent the last two weeks drilling down on the numbers to craft a 2013-14 revised budget that seeks, as the priority, to protect the quality of the Manhasset Public Schools’ academic curriculum. The revised budget, which results in a 1.97 percent tax levy increase (in contrast to the prior proposed 5.98 percent tax levy increase) reflects reductions, concessions and compromises across the board. Every aspect of the budget has been reviewed, and aspects that could be tweaked without destroying the core have been tweaked, including costs relating to administration, teachers, and before and after school programs and activities (including interscholastic athletics and clubs) that will impact each of the elementary schools, the middle school, and the high school.
I have heard from people who believe that extracurricular activities and elective courses such as athletics, drama, science research, computer graphics, music, and the like can be cut from the school budget, because parents can simply pay to send their kids to commercial programs in the area. So I did a little investigating and came up with some interesting facts and figures.
• Music lessons at a local establishment run approximately $60/45 minute lesson for 40 weeks. Which is, more or less, what are kids are getting in school. That totals $2,400.
The Manhasset Press interview with Superintendent of Schools Charles Cardillo was—to use his own word—disappointing. It stated that if the voters did not vote “yes” to his budget cap busting budget, then all of the school “extra” activities would be immediately cut. It seemed to be this standard, tired, age-old veiled threat for us to pay or our children would not be allowed to play. He is right, a district such as Manhasset deserves better. Is this what we expect from our school board leadership?
The Manhasset School Board heard the community after the failure of passing the budget on May 21. After a series of open board meetings, the district presented a revised budget for adoption on June 3 in an open meeting at the high school. After a two-hour discussion and Q & A, the board voted on the revised budget, and it was unanimously adopted. This reduced budget reflects the cuts needed (approximately $3.1 million) to reduce the tax levy increase to a level the district feels most community members will support, 1.97 percent. (An overview of the major cuts are on page 10.)
If the vote fails, the District will be on austerity, and that means, among other things, no sports, no clubs, no before or after school activities, and larger class sizes at the elementary level. Sports at the schools cannot be privately funded unless that funding is provided for all sports teams, not just some of them.
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