In order to clarify the complex budget issues facing Garden City Public Schools as it formulates the 2013-2014 budget, the district continues its “Question of the Week” feature to provide information and address concerns expressed by residents. A complete listing of the questions and answers will be posted on the district’s website: www.gardencity.k12.ny.us.
Question of the Week:
What exactly does the proposed 2013-2014 school district budget preserve, and what would be cut?
The 2013-2014 school budget retains nearly all aspects of the district’s comprehensive educational program, and will be “very, very close to what we have this year,” Superintendent Feirsen explained at the April 10 board of education budget adoption meeting. Two contributing factors, an increase in state aid and the Appellate Division’s reinstatement of the County Guaranty,” have enabled the district to propose a budget that requires no major changes.
“Seventy-five cents out of every dollar goes to the students,” Feirsen continued, “a figure that has remained the same for many years.” The proposed budget includes: no building closures, retains full-day kindergarten, maintains class size guidelines, addresses the transition to Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS) and the attached high stakes testing, preserves clubs and co-curricular activities, retains special programs such as Quest and the district’s award-winning Foreign Language in Elementary School (FLES) program, and maintains all student support services. The budget also includes $2.8 million to reduce the potential for a tax spike in 2014-2015.
Additionally, the proposed budget provides funding for the creation of a middle school Robotics team, an important component of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education. The community has expressed strong support for robotics over the past two years, establishing Garden City teams that have participated in local competitions. The district’s Winter Program for Kids began offering Robotics last year, and expanded the class to two sections this past winter with a total enrollment of 32 fourth- and fifth-graders.
The budget also includes funds for the purchase of three buses, provides significant resources for technology updates, maintains RtI (Response to Intervention), a program that identifies and supports students with special needs at the earliest age, and includes funds for possible security upgrades.
Staffing reductions of 6.5 FTE (full-time equivalent) are enrollment driven (.5 is due to an anticipated decrease in the grant funding that supports that teacher), with a reserve of 2.0 FTE, one in general education and one in special education, to address possible enrollment increases in the summer or during the course of next year.
Other changes include a reduction in funding for Arts in Education, eliminating the nine-day Summer AIS (Academic Intervention Services) program, reducing the reserved spots for BOCES Career and Technical Education students, “slightly” reducing middle school intramurals program, and running the high school summer school program but without the district’s subsidy.
“That’s it,” Feirsen concluded, “those are the program adjustments. I reiterate, as a result, Garden City’s program next year looks pretty much the same as it does this year in terms of the delivery of a high quality, comprehensive program for students.”
For complete information about the proposed 2013-14 school budget and other resources for residents, visit the “Budget Information” section on the district’s home web page: www.gardencity.k12.ny.us.