Written by Karen Gellender, Kgellender@antonnews.com Friday, 15 February 2013 00:00It looks like program cuts are on the horizon for the 2013-2014 school year in Jericho; much of the discussion at the most recent school board meeting was about how to make cuts as painless as possible.
Wrapping up a series of budget workshops, Assistant Superintendent for Business Affairs Victor Manuel explained that while the tax cap is commonly referred to as “the two percent tax cap,” a complex formula actually determines how much districts can increase their budgets in order to come in under the legal cap. However, even with the ability to go over two percent without requiring a supermajority (which Jericho can do), there are significant challenges: for one thing, NYS Mandated Employer Contribution Rates to retirement systems and health insurance premiums will see a nearly $3 million increase in 2013-2014. The increase to employee benefits represents by far the biggest increase in the budget, and it is non-negotiable.
To make up for these increased costs, the administration recommends re-organizing staff around retirements (presumably choosing not to replace several staff members who are retiring), and changing the existing Literacy Coaches to reading teachers, getting rid of the Literacy Coach position. However, a representative from the Cantiague Elementary School PTA responded that her school has seen great results from the coaches and supports keeping them on in their current positions. In response, board members said that they would examine other ways to save money without losing the coaches.
The other recommendation is to cut middle school intramural programs. Interscholastic, competitive athletic teams are not on the chopping block. But some intra-school athletic programs for grades 6,7 and 8 may be discontinued. Parents of middle school students voiced concerns about this choice, but once again, board members pointed out that these recommendations were not final.
The district does have the option with moving forward with no cuts to program, however doing so would put the budget over the tax levy limit and require a supermajority (60 percent) to pass.
A full review of the budget will take place at the next board meeting on March 7, while the board is scheduled to adopt the budget on March 14. Members of the public will have the opportunity to comment on the proposed budget at both meetings.
But there were also many congratulations. Two athletic teams, the girls’ swimming and diving team and the girls’ volleyball team, were recently recognized as Scholar-Athlete Teams, meaning they maintained high academic averages while keeping up with a demanding athletic schedule. In other accolades, the district’s five Intel semifinalists (Sonia Joshi, Sam Lam, Brendan Liu, Michael Shen and Raymond Wu) were recognized, as well as their research coordinator, Serena McCalla, who was honored as a Teacher of Merit by the Intel Science Talent Search.
The Intel Semifinalists thanked McCalla for her commitment to their projects, and expressed great regard for her as both a person as a teacher. Sam Lam said that McCalla is “like a second mother to us.”
Saturday, 15 June 2013 00:00
A vehicle accident left a motorcyclist and his passenger dead following an accident on the New York State Thruway. The fatal motorcycle accident occurred at 1:10 a.m. on Sunday, June 2 near Exit 16 in Woodbury, the Associated Press reported.
According to officials, a Suzuki motorcycle operated by Rafaelito DeJesus, 23, of Valley Stream was headed north on the Thruway when he was hit by another vehicle.
Friday, 14 June 2013 00:00
The New York State Senate today passed a bill to protect young and inexperienced drivers by helping to remove distractions that could lead to accidents. The legislation. sponsored by Senator Carl Marcellin (R, Syosset), prohibits the use of cell phones—including hands-free devices—by drivers who hold learner’s permits.
“Young and inexperienced drivers, holding only a learner’s permit, are behind the wheel for one purpose—to learn how to safely operate a vehicle. These drivers need their full attention on the road and for the task of becoming a responsible driver,” said Senator Marcellino. “Even the best teenage drivers don’t have the judgment that comes with experience. Until a new driver has some skill and experience, the use of cell phones while driving should be banned.”
Thursday, 06 June 2013 00:00
This spring, in anticipation of fielding their strongest Varsity Baseball squad since the program began eight years ago, Portledge decided to change leagues from IPPSAL (Independent Private and Parochial Schools Athletic League) to the Private School Athletic Association and Athletic Conference of Independent Schools (PSAA/ACIS Alliance), in hopes of finding stronger and more consistent competition. As a newcomer to the Alliance League, which consists of independent school teams from all over the metropolitan area, the Panthers were placed in the 10-team 2nd Division.
It didn’t take long for Portledge to demonstrate the rapidly developing quality of their baseball program, as the Panthers hammered their way to a regular season mark of 9 wins and 1 loss. Moving on to the league playoffs, Portledge quickly dispatched their quarter and semi-final foes before heading to the championship game against Bay Ridge Prep on May 21 at MCU (Municipal Credit Union) Park in Brooklyn.
Thursday, 06 June 2013 00:00
The weather was blustery but hearts were warm at the SYAC Pony League All-Star Game, held at H.B. Thompson Middle School last month.
Thirty specially selected girls who play in the Pony League (grades 2-3) of SYAC Girls Softball put on a fine show for the bundled-up fans. They provided a barrage of hitting, combined with great fielding that ended rallies, sometimes by double plays. Eight dads who volunteer as coaches in the SYAC softball program, assisted the players.