On Nov. 20 five Glen Cove Board of Education members voted aye and two voted nay regarding the adoption of a resolution against the proposed Covello charter school which is in the throes of the review process conducted by the SUNY Charter Schools Institute, (CSI). Voting against the resolution were Phil Enright and Bill Boeddener. The resolution will be forwarded to the CSI board of trustees and will be included in the record against the Covello application. That record includes thousands of letters from Glen Cove residents and elected officials in support of their constituents as well as a video tape of the board-sponsored hearing held two weeks ago. The Charter Schools Institute trustees, according to sources close to this newspaper, will convene to consider several charter school applications on Dec. 19. A decision regarding all applications for the next school year must be rendered by Dec. 31. In a related news, on Nov. 16 the Roslyn Board of Education adopted a resolution opposing the establishment of a charter school in the Glen Cove School District. The Roslyn board's resolution states "[our] neighboring school districts are all comprehensive school districts with numerous programs, course offerings and enrichment programs with provisions for students with special needs, extensive technological and computer curriculums inclusive of parents and community collaboration and involvement."
Prior to voting, the Glen Cove board members discussed their resolution's wording and focus. Included in the wording of the final draft is a statement regarding the resultant negative impact caused by the removal of funds, (up to $2.5 million initially), upon the educational opportunities for students remaining in the school district should the school be approved. The adopted resolution is not a blanket condemnation of charter schools, as emphasized by board member Bob Lupinskie. Freshman board member Dr. Rodger Silletti said he was against the Covello school solely because of the poor fiscal health of Edison Schools, Inc., the management company slated to operate the school. Dr. Silletti said if a charter school application came down the road in the future and it was to be operated by a financially stable company, he would consider that proposal at that time. Mr. Enright defended his position in favor of the Covello school by quoting from Martin Luther King, III and adding, "When I wrote in favor of the school, I had two things in mind. I wanted to bring education to the front and center and I wanted the community to have a sense of urgency. I won't take it back and I'm not sorry. I am in favor of reform and a change in the delivery of education that we pay big bucks for." Mr. Enright said the charter school was good competition for the education monopoly in Glen Cove. Having said that, Mr. Enright added that he had a strong feeling regarding the possibility that the Covello application will be withdrawn. Mr. Enright did not elaborate on that comment.
Board member Bill Boeddener and Mr. Enright echoed each other and said they represented a much larger part of Glen Cove than those attending school board meetings. That statement brought a loud "Where are they? Who are they?" from many members of the audience. Mr. Boeddener said the board should put the community first, not just the 3000 students. After the vote, school board member Dr. Jeff Spector said, "I want it noted that five board members supported keeping taxes down while two members did not."
One resident, Chuck Bondar, took on Mr. Enright who, in a letter to the editor of this newspaper, expressed his desire for a charter school to be formed in Glen Cove. Mr. Bondar said Mr. Enright's position is in conflict with his position as a member of the board. "The purpose of a membership on this school board is to oversee and further the education of our children, not to propose to let someone else do it by inviting an outside profit-making organization to take hold. [Mr. Enright's] tenure so far has been to obstruct the normal and proper functioning of this board with his ignorance of facts, inability to understand the law and proposing various screwball ideas, none of which contribute to a cohesive board. We have the embarrassing situation of [Mr. Enright] actively campaigning against the school budget, a budget that he was, or should have been, an active participant in creating. I request, yea demand, that Mr. Enright resign his position as school board member forthwith," said Mr. Bondar.
Approval of the snow removal bid was tabled pending more information. Only one company submitted a bid. Board member Bob Lupinskie said he would like to see a list identifying the principals of the company, some sort of company track record and a better address than just a post office box noted on the bid sheet. Mr. Lupinskie said the board shouldn't award the bid to that company just because they were the only firm to submit a proposal. During personnel considerations, school board president Vito Abbondandolo announced that high school principal Lane Schwartz would be retiring from that position effective Aug. 31, 2001.
Dr. Freeley began the good news list by describing the wave of pride the school district and city rode as the Big Red football team earned a spot in the county championship playoff at Hofstra. The team lost by a mere point, 16-15, to Bethpage in a game that clocked the most exciting final minutes of football ever. Dr. Freeley offered kudos to the high school mock trial team for placing first in a recent tournament. She offered congratulations to the high school students who participated in Channel 12's Long Island Teen Challenge which was videotaped earlier that day. (It will air in January). More kudos to the boys soccer, girls soccer, girls volleyball, tennis and co-ed cross country teams on their designations as scholar/athlete squads. Dr. Freeley said the scholar/athlete honor is given to team whose members each have an above 90 overall average. Board member Carol Sucharski added her comments on what she called a most exciting month while listing her participation in cheering on the football team, guest reader week at Landing school, Rising Star awards at middle school and the retirement party for Phyllis Coniglione. Marv Isaacson, a regular school board meeting attendee, said it was about time members of the board extolled the accomplishments of the school district's children and wondered why more isn't publicized. "I've asked Mayor Suozzi repeatedly over the years to install signs around the city so we can show the great things our kids are doing," said Mr. Isaacson. And regarding the actions of board member Phil Enright, Mr. Isaacson said while he doesn't agree with Mr. Enright, he will defend Mr. Enright's right to speak his mind. He said, "I want controversy, it's good for us...but not in the manner Mr. Enright is presenting."
Robert Germino read from a prepared statement and said he had received a typewritten letter in his mailbox, without a stamp and signed with an illegible name. The writer threatened him with legal action regarding a recent letter Mr. Germino had written to the other local newspaper and urged him to show his face at the board meeting, "so we can see who you are." The identity of the "we" mentioned is unknown, however Mr. Germino said he would not be intimidated by such tactics, no matter who was behind them.