The March 4 meeting of the Farmingdale Board of Education opened with Rita Zirpolo-Padden, director of fine arts, who presented music awards to the following students: Matthew Colson and Alyson Langon received the American Choral Directors Award. Tracy Severino received a bronze medal in the United States World Championships for voice. New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) All State recipients were Lisa Reimer, Matthew Colson, Charles Rozakis and Nicole Nappi for voice; and Sarah Weiss for violin. NYSSMA All State alternatives were Joe Cutugno and Kathleen Linnemann. All were congratulated by Josephine Macchia, board of education president.
During the public participation, residents discussed the notification letter that was sent out by the school district about a Level II sex offender residing in the community. There was some concern about how to access more information about the offender, and one resident asked why a picture was sent out from one of the private schools. Farmingdale Schools Superintendent Gerard W. Dempsey explained that some letters come from the parochial schools about sex offenders who may not live in this community, and that this school district is not involved with this. Macchia stated that this school district will not be distributing photographs, but will notify parents about how they can obtain more information from the police regarding a Level III offender. One resident stated that he was sending letters to Albany to complain about the law and requesting that it be changed.
Board member Joan T. Lifson, who will be resigning from her seat on the Nassau BOCES Board of Education, nominated Mr. Vitale for that seat, which was approved by the other board trustees.
Dempsey introduced a discussion on the school report cards. He said that some changes were made in this year's version of the report cards, such as the addition of special education information, but that it is still a "work in progress". Each school principal then quickly reviewed their school's "grades" on the report card, and some of the programs that contributed to these standings. Albany Avenue continued to perform well, and this was partially attributed to such programs as Project Read, Columbia State Teacher's college program, the Renaissance program and Collaboration programs. East Memorial raised its "at-risk" status for grade three reading to have 98 percent of their third graders score above the state minimum level in reading. This was accomplished by the use of many programs, but especially by targeting 30 at-risk students and providing them with such programs as after school reading clubs and learning centers. Some students were allowed to take the tests in smaller, distraction-free rooms as well.
Northside Elementary School saw no real change with the exception of grade six math mastery level, which showed a significant drop in numbers. The school's principal, Elizabeth Craig said that there is a need to attend more to the needs of the students requiring English as a second language programs and those in economic need, groups that have been rising in numbers in this school. She also stated that the beneficial results of Project Read can be seen in the fewer numbers of students needing corrective reading in the higher grade levels.
Woodward Parkway Elementary School showed increased numbers of students passing the science Espet due to specifically analyzing the test, developing vocabulary lists and using a hands-on approach to the manipulative section.
The same prescription was applied to preparing for the social studies test. Howitt Middle School Principal Arleen Besner reported that the school's social studies test score remained constant. One hundred percent of those eighth graders who took the ninth grade Sequential I Math Regents test passed it, 80 percent with distinction.
Farmingdale High School Principal Robert Lewis reported that the school's attendance rate was higher, and that the suspension rate and drop-out rate were lower. The percentage of students receiving Regents diplomas was also higher. Programs that were developed to help students pass the English Regents test include support labs extending to 11th grade, increasing time on task and summer school, and extending the exam to page students. Collaborative classes for ESL students and a concentration on reading were also instituted. Lewis reminded all that every 11th grader will be taking the English Regents next year as part of new state mandates.
Dempsey reported on the first meeting of the Gary Karp Memorial Committee and the discussion about the possibility of creating a community center. The establishment of the center has support from such public officials as Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto, Nassau Legislator Salvatore Pontillo, State Assemblyman, Steven Labriola and Town Councilman Joseph Muscarella.
There was some discussion regarding the request of a parent to allow her child to attend a district elementary school that is not in the zone in which they live, because the child's babysitter (a grandparent) lives in the other zone. The board's policy was discussed. The board majority did not believe that the hardship exemption in the policy applied in this case. Three board members: Josephine Macchia, Anthony Vitale and Robert Guarino voted to allow the exemption, but they were outvoted.