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School Board eyes session on reassessing

The firm doing Grand Island's property reassessment could hold an informational meeting with the school district's PTAs and faculty if the Board of Education were interested, Town Supervisor Mary S. Cooke said.

At a joint meeting Monday with the Town Board in Town Hall, School Board President David Goris indicated an informational session might be a good idea, partly because there is a lot of confusion about the meaning of assessment, tax levy and tax rates.

Cooke said that Emminger, Newton, Pigeon & Magyar held a public meeting last Thursday attended by about 80 town residents and that it went well.

She said the firm's hotline is 712-5550, noting that the telephone number in a recent town newsletter "was one digit off."

Details about the reassessment program are posted on the town website,

The two boards, which meet jointly in months with a fifth Monday, covered a number of topics of mutual interest including a brief outline of the proposed $53.1 million school budget for next year that raises property taxes 2.4 percent.

In answer to a question from Councilman Ray Billica, Goris and School Board member Glenn Bobeck noted that Grand Island, unlike other area school districts, will not see much staff reduction. "It's a good, sound budget that maintains the academic program," said Goris. Bobeck said the growth of the town's tax base was a contributing factor in keeping budget cuts to a minimum.

On other topics:

* The School Board expects to have a study soon from Wendel Duchscherer on needs for the planned new transportation center. Three sites, two of them town-owned and one behind Sidway Elementary School, remain under consideration. Superintendent Robert Christmann said, "We've been pleased by the support of the Town Board on [working toward] a site with easy in and out access."

* Bobeck and School Board member Joan Droit volunteered to be on an ad hoc committee studying a plan to use public buildings including schools as public shelters in the event of an emergency, like a storm-related major power outage. Councilman Richard Crawford said the plan is being developed with the Community Emergency Response Team and the American Red Cross.

* Councilman Gary G. Roesch, citing economic growth, noted a $600,000 recent renovation by Anchor Marine.

He also said that within 18 months Verizon anticipates providing Grand Island with 4G LTE, the "next generation" of its FiOS service, which the town does not yet have. "We're going to reach out to our industries to see what they have in an effort to expand and enhance their communications programs," he said.

* Christmann and Cooke noted continued patrols by local law enforcement on Ransom Road, where the high and middle schools are located, in a bid to crack down on drivers going too fast and passing on the right, which endangers students walking where there are no sidewalks.

* Roesch noted the school district was instrumental in the Holiday Inn Grand Island Resort & Conference Center being selected as host of the Am-Can International Judo Competition May 26-27 that will benefit island businesses. Competitive events will be held in the high school gym. Christmann said school music groups will sell refreshments during the event with the proceeds benefiting their programs.