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Wishing you a Happy Chanukah and very Merry Christmas from Bellmore Life Serving the Bellmores since 1964 Printed on recycled paper Vol. 50 No. 51 (USPS 049-500) Bellmore, NY 11710 The Community Newspaper Wednesday, December 21, 2011 75¢ Bellmore Life photo by Douglas Finlay SANTA’S ON HIS WAY: This home on St. Marks Avenue is ablaze with shimmering lights in anticipation of Santa’s arrival. Many homes in Bellmore are alight this holiday season, to show Santa the way to their homes. Gunther Elementary to close by Douglas Finlay HOLIDAY HAPPENING: Josh Levine of Kennedy helped host an event with Nancy Marcello at Across the Universe on Bedford Avenue on Saturday to raise funds for the INN (Inter faith Neighborhood Network). Local bands played all afternoon. See stor y on page 3. photo by Eric Homburger North Bellmore’s school board voted 5-0 last week to close Jacob Gunther School on June 30. Parents will begin receiving notices by mid-January of what school their children will attend next fall. Of the students attending Gunther, 130 will be transferred to Saw Mill Road School, and 79-80 will be transferred to Dinkelmeyer, Superintendent of Schools Arnold Goldstein announced. Also passing was a resolution to hold elections as early as state laws allow to let the community decide if it wants to reduce busing to two miles, from the current 1/3-mile for grades K-3 and one mile for grades 4-6. Reducing busing could help the district realize close to $1 million in additional savings still needed to close the roughly $2 million 2012-13 budget deficit gap. Closing the school is projected to save the district up to $1 million. After passage of the Gunther resolution many in attendance walked out, while others – during public comments – began a barrage of criticism toward the board, claiming it was unfit to govern because it didn’t see the deficit problem coming. At least two community members called for the board to be voted out. Board President Grace Cramsie said the problem was twofold, and that one of those, the underutilization of space within the six buildings, could no longer be tolerated in the budget. When asked by an attendee how long the district had known about the underutilization, she said the district had known about it for years. No intention to close building at first Ms. Cramsie said that when underutilization of space due to decreased enrollment first came light years ago, there was no intent to close a building then. “You had a responsibility years ago and you didn’t do the job then?” Deborah Martorana asked. “We had hoped that earnings would change the problem, but they haven’t,” she said. “We didn’t want to have to go to 30 students per classroom,” she said, adding that the district doesn’t want to go that way now. Instead, Ms. Cramsie identified the state’s new 2% tax cap placed on the district as finally forcing the board’s hand to close the school because of underutilization, at only 50% at present. Other reasons tipping the scale included reduction of state and federal aid to the district. Carol Barnao told the board that closure of the school will end a 40-year family tradition within the school: Her brother, Salvatore Monello, has a scholarship in his name given to a Gunther student every year. “A whole family tradition is being taken away here,” She said. “We have a voice and you didn’t let us have it,” said Ms. Barnao. Dave Liebowitz told the board it was rushing to judgement on the school, suggesting it did not look at the impact closing the school would have on the neighborhood. ‘The money is there” to keep it open, he said. “The school has been there 55 years.” He then said it was “time to get a new board voted in.” “This is not a happy day for us,” Ms. Cramsie said of the decision. “We took everything into consideration,” she continued. “It was just an issue of undercapacity” that the budgets could no longer protect. Jack Raia followed Mr. Leibowitz’ (continued on page 2) NAMES MAKE THE NEWS: Read about y our neighbors! – 80 local peoples’ names were in your community newspaper last week. Maybe yours is in this week! See inside. Investigate privatization page 2 MTA train holiday schedule page 5 For a healthy you page 8 Kennedy Students of the Month page 10

Bellmore Life 12.22.11

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