At the Oct. 2 meeting of the Herricks Board of Education, trustees continued to lay groundwork for the district’s financial gameplan for the 2014-15 year.
Assistant Superintendent for Business Helen Costigan gave a report on the newly-assessed values of homes in the Herricks School District, from figures recently released by Nassau County.
“In Class 1, which is for homeowners, the assessment is down 2.2 percent…that’s a reduction from previous years,” she said. “What that 2.2 percent means is that people are challenging their assessments, which is lowering the assessment. If you haven’t challenged your assessment, you will probably end up paying a bigger share than someone who has successfully challenged and driven their assessment down.”
Costigan also touched on what the assessment value drop meant as it relates to the recently announced tax levy for the 2014-15 school year. Despite their relatively low tax levy, Herricks residents tend to pay higher tax rates overall when compared with areas on Long Island with more highly developed commercial industries, she said.
“As previously stated, the tax levy is 1.3 percent since the board added an additional $400,000 to the budget, lowering it,” she said. “However, the percentage of tax levy that homeowners in Herricks pay is 92.8 percent…if you go to certain areas like Garden City, Mineola, or Levittown, they’re closer to 50 percent because they are districts that have a lot of commercial properties which drive down the amount of the tax levy that residents have to pay. We often lament about that, but our number has come down very slightly.”
Board Remembers Fallen Football Player
A clearly emotional Board President Jim Gounaris opened the meeting with a request for a moment of silence for 16-year-old Tom Cutinella, a varsity football player at Shoreham-Wading River High School in Suffolk County who tragically passed away after a collision with another player during a game the previous day.
“When I head about it this morning, I cried all the way to work because I have a son the same age who also plays football,” he said. “The value of a life and our kids means so much, and I just want us all to remember that young man and his family, because their lives are now totally changed.”
Gounaris also kept attendees at the board meeting in the loop regarding the search being conducted to find replacements for Superintendent Dr. John Bierwirth and Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Dr. Deirdre Hayes, both of whom had previously tendered their resignations. Bierwirth will remain at his post until the end of the 2014-15 school year, and Hayes until Dec. 31, 2014.
“The process is continuing,” Gounaris said. “We have a timeline involved in how we intend to get this whole thing wrapped up, but only if we find the right candidates to fill the positions. So, while we have a timeline, we’re not going to be pressured if the person is not the right person for the job.”
Gounaris thanked members of both the public and the Herricks administration and student body who have attended public forums recently for voicing their opinions and concerns regarding the qualities they wanted in the successors to both Bierwirth and Hayes.
“The consultants we hired to assist in the search appreciated the participation of the community,” he said. “The really loved the kids who came to the meetings, they thought they were amazing, and the residents who attended gave us a great deal of information as well.”
New Student Reps
The 2014-2015 student representatives from the high school were also sworn in at the evening’s meeting; Ashwin Viswanathan, Maytal BabaJanian, Suliaman Kidwaim, and Akshay Ramakrishnan (who was absent from the meeting) will alternate taking turns sitting in on upcoming board of education meetings, serving as a conduit between the administration and the student body.