District’s Budget Gap At $1.3 Million

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About three dozen students protested the dismissal of two high school teachers, holding signs reading “We Support Mr. Puccio.”

The budget gap remains at $1.3 million for the Glen Cove City School District for the 2017-18 school year, according to the information presented at the board of education meeting held on March 27, at Gribbin Elementary School. Superintendent Dr. Maria Rianna and assistant superintendent for business Victoria Galante both said they were waiting on information from the New York State Department of Education.

“We’re trying to show ways to fill the gaps right now before the final numbers come in,” said Galante.

They presented several possible reductions, including cutting $150,000 from the central office, $415,000 in administration, $25,000 for a clerical monitor and $85,000 in the teachers line.

“This does not mean an actual teacher, but a combination of reductions in the amount of time spent teaching,” said Rianna. “We have no specific people in mind.”

The projected tax levy for 2017-18 is $66,804,233, an increase in $912,337 over last year, with a projected property tax increase of 1.38 percent. Another update was expected to be given on April 3, after press time, where the final amount of state aid could be presented.

During the meeting, more than 30 students showed support for two teachers, William Puccio and Stacie Rosenblatt, they say will be dismissed at the end of the school year, many of them holding colorful signs that read, “We Support Mr. Puccio.”

“We’re here to support Ms. Rosenblatt and Mr. Puccio,” said Jay Charon, a student at Glen Cove High School. “In my experience with Ms. Rosenblatt, she makes your mind expand and your brain active. No one sleeps in her class and for the first time, I got above 90 because of her.”

Alex Cota, a senior at the high school and a varsity soccer player, submitted a petition to the board with more than 550 names on it in support of Puccio, a science teacher and assistant soccer coach, asking them to keep him on the payroll.

“We feel he has an important role in the school and as a coach,” said Cota. “If he is out, it’s going to affect a large population of the school.”

He later told the Record Pilot that he believes Puccio, as a teacher of science to English language learners, has a job that is both important and tough to do.

“He is one of the most caring people and always brings a positive energy to the students and to the team,” said Cota. “Not everyone can do that.”

Last year, the soccer team was named Long Island Co-champions and Nassau County Class A Champions; Cota attributes Puccio’s coaching skills to the team’s turnaround and also said his positive energy helped keep the team’s anxiety down.

“He knows what to say,” said Cota. “I hope that all of us being here and the petition will open their eyes more to how important he is.”

Fernando Guevara, a high school junior, has had Puccio for a teacher since moving to the district in ninth grade and said he is more than just a teacher.

“We all call him ‘Dad’ because that’s what he feels like to us,” said Guevara. “He helps with school problems, but we can go to him for anything and he’s there for us.”

No explanation or confirmation was given for the teachers’ dismissal, though Rianna thanked the students for supporting their teachers.

At the meeting, parents also raised concern over the lack of progress regarding the greenhouse at Gribbin, a project that has been in the works for five years.

“We started fundraising for this project in 2012 and I am very disheartened,” said Toni Curran. “Five years later, we still don’t have an answer. We need to get the ball moving. It’s putting a bad taste in my mouth.”

Trustee David Huggins said that he had asked for an update on the greenhouse project at every single meeting of the facilities committee and understands the frustration.

Rianna said she was hopeful she would be able to provide an update by the next board meeting.

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