Mineola, Three Village districts win grants
The Mineola and Three Village school districts are among 12 statewide that will share $9 million in state grants for enacting cost-cutting measures that saved millions of dollars.
The prizes, part of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's competitive education grants program, went to schools that created a total of more than $9 million in "permanent efficiency savings."
"Our education system must become more efficient and direct spending away from the bureaucracy into the classroom," the governor said in a news release Friday.
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Mineola schools will get $639,387 over three years for identifying more than $850,000 in eligible cost-savings; Three Village will receive $747,789 over the same period for saving nearly $1 million, the state said.
Mineola recently phased out two of its schools, setting out a broad reconfiguration of the district. Eighth-graders now attend the high school, and the elementary schools are fewer, with two housing grades pre-K through second, plus one for third- and fourth-graders. Before that, there was one school for pre-K and kindergarten pupils, and four for first- through fifth-graders.
Michael Nagler, superintendent of Mineola schools, added that the district had avoided raising taxes by more than 2.5 percent for the past six years.
"When you read about all of these districts cutting programs, we're not doing that," he said. "We're adding programs."
Nagler said the funds would add to existing technology initiatives, potentially for proposals to equip more students with iPads and expanding the district's Wi-Fi infrastructure.
Jeffrey Carlson, assistant superintendent for business services in the Three Village district, said the district has seen at least $3.3 million in savings since it shifted start and end times for schools in 2010. The move eased a burden in bus scheduling, allowing for a smaller fleet.
He called the grants -- announced in the midst of budget season -- timely. The district -- which covers Setauket, East Setauket and Stony Brook -- plans to add costly security measures, spurred in part, he said, by the Dec. 14 school shootings in Newtown, Conn. Proposals include more security guards and surveillance cameras.
"This way we are able to pay for a lot of that without having to wait until next year," Carlson said.