Board Talks Budget, Bonds

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Amy M. Franklin, President; Maria Elena Venuto, Vice President; Monica Alexandris-Miller, Trustee; Robert Field, Trustee; David Huggins, Trustee; Alexander Juarez, Trustee; Gail Nedbor-Gross, Trustee (Photo source: www.glencove.k12.ny.us)

School budget season is here and a second budget presentation took place for the 2018-19 school year at last week’s Glen Cove Board of Education meeting. The board was also presented with an update on the district’s special education program, and long time district employee and recent retiree Thomas Staab was recognized for his years of service at the meeting, which was held at Landing Elementary School on Wednesday, Feb. 7.

“We owe a moment of recognition to a man who’s given us a lifetime of commitment,” said Superintendent Dr. Maria Rianna. “He brought the mail to each of the buildings, but he was so much more than that. He is someone who will run errands outside of the regular route. My office was never cleaner and he went well above whatever his job description stated.”

She added the only time she knew him to take time off was during St. Rocco’s Feast.
“He makes the best sausage and peppers,” she noted, adding more words about his work ethic. “He is tireless and extremely loyal and represented his family with great pride.”

At the meeting, assistant superintendent for business Victoria Galante presented the latest draft of the preliminary budget for 2018-19. With a tax levy limit of 2 percent, approximately $1,330,504 will be generated next year, which Galante noted, “On an $86 million budget, that is not a lot of money.”

The revenue is expected to total $86,918,321—about $1 million more than the current year—though Galante noted that a budget is a “work in progress that is always changing.” During this presentation, she went over the capital and administrative components of what the district’s costs are expected to be for next year. The program component will be discussed at the next meeting, on Feb. 28; at that time, the budget “gap” will be looked at—meaning the amount of the revenues may fall short of the appropriations. Galante said a more concrete budget will be presented in mid- to late March.

Director of special education Allison Hernandez and Betsy Lashin, assistant director of special education, gave a presentation on the district’s special education program, which has recently expanded and as a result, is able to accommodate more students in the district rather than sending them to other districts. They discussed the Integrated Co-Teaching (ICT) model that is used in classrooms and offers support to students, noting that those who are struggling can have intervention in certain cases, without being referred to special education program.

Towards the end of the meeting, board president Amy Franklin proposed discussing the formation of a bond committee. The board is considering floating a bond, has hired an architect who has looked at all of the buildings and wants to move forward. The committee will consist of board members, parents and staff members from each school; the formation of the committee is the next step before any further action can be taken. Once a committee is formed, it will eventually report back to the board with recommendations on what projects should be taken care of before a bond will be proposed to the community.

Alex Juarez voted no to hiring an architect at a previous meeting and clarified his reasons.

“I support anything to help children, like a bond,” said Juarez. “I challenge our administration to take this on, to lead this, and come up with a new revenue stream to help reduce the impact on our community.”

In response, Rianna mentioned the monies she has secured from various local government agencies and said she would continue to “knock on doors” and travel to Albany to get more.

“I believe you have the commitment of my colleagues and myself as we look at every single opportunity to stretch that dollar,” said Rianna.

Board member Monica Alexandris-Miller clarified that some of the work that would be done is eligible for aid.

“Depending on how it’s packaged and what is done when, we actually get aid back for a lot of these projects,” she said.

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