In a subdued setting at the last Monday night, not too many residents voiced their opinions during the final public hearing on the 2012-13 school budget, most likely saving it for the vote on May 15.
Following , NHP-GCP Inter-school PTA Council President Lisa Friel read a statement on behalf of all four elementary PTA. “We’d like it to be known that all of our memberships have voted and are unanimously in support of the budget. We’d like to thank the board of ed for their hard work in presenting us with an educationally sound budget with no cuts to our valued programs.”
PTA member Frank Cineski commended the board for “putting together what I think would probably be the most difficult budget they’ve ever had to put together” and that Frank’s presentation at Hillside “was probably the best that I’ve ever seen.”
Joan Schumann of Garden City Park questioned about employee benefits were reduced in the administrative budget while going up in the program budget by $521,000.
Assistant superintendent for business Michael Frank replied that the benefit for increases occurs across the board and that “the reason that it appears the administrative benefits have gone down is because there was a consolidation of central office positions” and that two positions were consolidated into one job and the salary and benefits with that opposition were eliminated.
Frank also pointed out that under new agreements with the administrators, the unit (90 percent-10 percent) to just having the district paying a flat dollar amount and administrators absorbing all increases.
Schumann also questioned why testing services increased $48,000 which superintendent Robert Katulak explained was a result of the new APPR requiring a local assessment twice a year.
“When we talk about unfunded mandates, that strikes right at the heart of unfunded mandates,” trustee David DelSanto said. “That is something that we as a school board don’t decide whether to have; I would prefer not to expend that money on this additional testing. And there are many, many more that drive us crazy.”
Michael O’Donnell of the North Lakeview Civic Association questioned about the accuracy of the tests since some questions would be discarded, wondering if there would be “reimbursement” to the district for the questions which are to be thrown out.
According to the superintendent there are 25 questions through all of the tests in ELA and Math that the state is discounting because of similarities.
“We do not get funding for those problems, they’re going to discount them, they’ll readjust formulas in how they credit the formulas, scores. They do not share with us how they create those formulas so we’re left thinking about how they’re doing it and this year as of last year, they have secured those tests and what that means is we don’t even have the possibility like we used to in the past of using those instruments to reteach and check with the students of how they went wrong or how they went right,” he said. “We have to return every piece of paper back to the state including all exams and all answer sheets.”
The district is able to use the local assessment for diagnostic and instructional purposes.
“That question was thought to be one that these kids can handle,” DelSanto said, referring to one involving a pineapple and a hare. “I as an adult couldn’t handle that question and it really goes toward the question of credibility when (the state education commissioner) stood there and answered that question it really calls into question his credibility.”