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Security, Funding On Forefront

A packed Farmingdale school board meeting Feb. 6 focused on the issue of security. Stemming from issues brought to light from the tragic Sandy Hook School shooting in December, the district has been re-evaluating school security procedures. “We have an RFP (Request For Proposals) in place which bids are due on soon and we are reviewing all procedures. We are having drills and bolstering what we can,” said superintendent John Lorentz.  

One parent said that he realized that the room numbers are not visible on the outside of classrooms – something he said would help with security as well as something that is easy to do and the district would not have to wait for an outside company to approve.  “I would love to see this district become a showcase for security; a lighthouse for other districts to look to,” he said. 

A parent identified only as “Andy,” also spoke to the board about the use of an outside security firm. “Will an outside security firm be in touch with our local police so that they are aware of any procedures that they put in place,” he asked. 

Paul Defendini, assistant superintendent for business, responded, “These connections already exist and we continue to make them stronger; they are constantly involved with our plans.”  

Another hot-point issue is the issue of state aid to the district. “We were told that with the governor’s new plans, we would be getting a 4.4-percent increase in state aid,” said Tina Diamond, a board trustee. “Farmingdale saw a 2-percent decrease. The decrease that comes to Long Island goes to upstate schools because they are so devastated, but if they keep this up, they are going to devastate us too. The best we can hope for is a restoration to those [previous] levels,” she continued. 

 “Albany was less than organized,” said John Capobianco, a board member. “Things are not the same since the State Assembly is being shared.” Republicans control the state senate and Democrats the assembly.

With more school cuts on the way this year to keep within the 2 percent tax levy cap that Gov. Andrew Cuomo enacted – after a brutal 2012 budget season to stay within the cap –Lorentz said, “we will work with Albany, but we can’t depend on the cavalry coming.”

The next public Farmingdale Board of Education meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, March 6 at 8 p.m. in the Howitt Middle School cafeteria on Van Cott Avenue in Farmingdale.