Board of Education Cuts Athletics Down in Budget

According to reports by Superintendent Robert Feirsen and Assistant-Superintendent Albert Chase, costs will be curbed by increasing class sizes and limited athletics. (NNL photo by Jory Heckman).

The Garden City Board of Education entertained a full house this Tuesday as village taxpayers crammed into the Garden City High School library to debate new proposals regarding class size and extracurricular activities.

The 2010-2011 district budget for the next financial year has evoked concern among residents due to volatile economic conditions cited by Superintendent Dr. Robert Feirsen.

“This is an extraordinary year,” said Feirsen in his opening remarks. “We are still dealing with the echo of the economic fall.”

The school’s finances have decreased to the point where, in a budget-to-budget comparison, last year’s implemented programs would now cost 7 percent more this year, according to the superintendent’s budget report.

These figures are entirely hypothetical, however, since the board has recognized that cuts will be necessary.

“We know that [the old budget] was not a possibility; we could not even bring it into consideration,” said Feirsen, conceding that district growth will be at a standstill. “When you are contracting, it becomes very painful to say we can’t do some things.”

Proposed 2010-11 Increase from 09-10 % Change
$98,275,256 $3,059,669 3.21 percent

Among the most controversial proposals of the evening was the suggested elimination of four junior-varsity B-level teams in boys and girls soccer, field hockey, and baseball.

The same motion — outlined in the meeting’s budget proposal — would keep upper-level JV-A teams, but also cut high school and middle school intramurals.

Feirsen’s plans also called for a repeal of the traditional 25-students per class cap, raising the maximum to 27 students in some cases.

These plans raised the ire of local parents, who in many cases have consciously settled in Garden City to take advantage of their superior school system. When asked how much the district would need to uphold class caps and some programs during citizen’s comments, Feirsen eschewed any figures, and instead went with a softer response.

“If you were to ask me, ‘Rob, how much do you want?’ I would say, ‘give me a blank check,’” he said, explaining how some cuts may be difficult but necessary, due to a finite money supply.

The next budget work session will be March 23 at 8:15 p.m.