At the start of the Glen Cove Board of Education meeting of Monday, Oct. 17, Board President Richard Tortorici announced that he and Don Scarl, president of the Coalition for Glen Cove, recently visited the Carle Place School District to look into the district's use of solar panels, put in place as part of a performance contract. He stated that Dr. Joe Vasti will be meeting with the superintendent of Carle Place to determine if solar panels might be right for the Glen Cove District, as an aspect of energy conservation. In addition to the possible monetary savings, said Mr. Tortorici, the project also contains education merit, teaching students the value of solar energy.
Mr. Tortorici also told the public that he, along with board presidents of neighboring districts, has met with County Executive Thomas R. Suozzi to ask him to intercede with the State Department of Education regarding the formula used to establish state aid to districts. "The State Ed. department takes a mean of net wealth and uses the average to determine the amount of aid a district receives," Mr. Tortorici explained. Glen Cove has a number of very wealthy citizens, as well as a number of very poor, giving the district a skewed number. Mr. Suozzi has agreed to advocate for the districts.
In addition, Mr. Tortorici said that board presidents of local districts are going to meet to discuss working together in an effort to save money, in, he said, "a continuing effort to find additional cost savings methods."
Following regular business, the board welcomed Christina Morris, project director of the 21st Century Community Learning Center Grant (21st CCLC), and Gloria Hafner of Deasy School, coordinator of the school district's section of the grant. Before Ms. Morris spoke, School Superintendent Dr. Larry Aronstein remarked that he had in the past authored attempts to qualify for the 21st CCLC, but was never successful, and was "in awe" when he came to Glen Cove and found the city to have been a recipient.
Ms. Morris explained that Glen Cove has received a five-year grant, receiving $774,822 annually, which is divided among stakeholders: the Glen Cove Youth Bureau (lead agent), the Glen Cove School District, the Glen Cove Boys & Girls Club, La Fuerza Unida, the Substance Abuse Free Environment (SAFE), and the City of Glen Cove as fiscal agent.
Ms. Morris started with some background. "In 2003, as program coordinator for InterAgency Council of Glen Cove I identified the grant's request for proposal and attended a workshop given by SED (State Education Department). Together with Juan Castro, volunteer president of IAC and at the time executive director for the GCYB, I determined that Glen Cove would be a good fit for the grant. It was a gamble ... since most of the funding was given to school districts, rather than Community Based Organizations (CBOs) and the initiative in our city came from the CBOs," she said. Ms. Morris remarked that Glen Cove holds a unique position for receiving the grant initiated by CBOs, with the school district as a partner.
She then continued to explain the obligations of, and benefits to, the school district. It is required that stakeholders must provide academic enrichment activities to students to help them meet state and local standards in core content areas (reading, math and science) and ESL, she said, and establish or expand community learning centers that provide students with academic enrichment opportunities along with activities designed to complement the students' regular academic program.
A brochure distributed by Ms. Morris described the programs instituted last year by the school district, and Ms. Hafner elaborated on the use of 21st CCLC grant money in her presentation.
Summer school 2004 at Gribbin School was one of the first programs financed, said Ms. Hafner. It serviced 93 students from grades nine-12, in small groups, to maintain or improve their academic achievements. Funds were used to help prepare students taking the fourth grade ELA and math state assessments, Ms. Hafner continued, and this year, as assessments will be given to students in grades three to eight, there will be a focus across those grades to prepare students for the tests with classes in small groups, before and after school and perhaps during lunch periods.
A family literacy program is offered on Saturday for the improvement of literacy and life skills for all family members of students who attend ESL classes.
This past year, regents review and SAT preparation classes were offered to high school students, said Ms. Hafner, as well as middle school mathematics review classes. However, this year, offering SAT and Regents review classes will be "a little more difficult," she said, as there "may be no money for them," due to the grades three to eight testing. "There are other resources for SAT and Regents review," she added.
Marion Voegtlen, president of PTA Council, expressed concern for the lack of attention to the SAT and Regents review help, stating, "These tests impact students' college careers." Middle school delegate Maureen Pappachristou remarked that it seems "Once again, the middle school is experiencing 'middle child syndrome,' " being overlooked and not receiving as much as the older and younger students. Ms. Hafner agreed, but said the group "tried to do the best we could, and will again this year." Ms. Hafner said that anyone who wishes may e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions, comments and ideas.
Following the presentation on the 21st CCLC Grant, Dr. Aronstein gave a presentation on 2005-2006 grants in the district. He stated that the district receives a total of $2.4 million of state and federal grant money. Of that $700,000 goes to improving academic achievement (Title 1), $150,000 to teacher training and recruitment (Title 2A), $750,000 to special education, $215,000 to the pre-K program, $150,000 to EPE, the adult ESL program and $25,000 goes to public and parochial schools. Of the school district's $53 million budget, approximately 4 percent comes from grants. The superintendent said he is continuing to monitor public and private grants and searching the state and federal government. He again remarked on how outstanding it is that Glen Cove received a 21st CCLC Grant, as that is one of the few competitive grants available. "Getting grants has become very difficult over the past three or four years," Dr. Aronstein said. "There are not as many sources, and most grants are 'set asides.' " Set asides are grants which are awarded for specific projects.
Dr. Aronstein then announced the Glen Cove Leadership Academy fellows. "Eighteen local educators came to meet with me," he said, "and I received 14 completed applications. From those I chose the first six Glen Cove Leadership Academy fellows and I have invited them to the next board meeting for a 'close up and personal' introduction." The superintendent said he chose a diverse group from across the entire district. The fellows are Lawrence Carroll, eighth grade social studies teacher and team leader; Anthony Gallo, physical education and health teacher at the middle and elementary schools; Allison Hernandez, assistant principal at the middle school; Allen Hudson, assistant principal at the high school; Michael Hugelmeyer, social studies and ESL teacher at the high school and Beth Wilding, first-grade teacher at Deasy School.
While Maureen Pappachristou congratulated the fellows selected for the Leadership Academy, she said she was not happy with the fact that some of those selected are not tenured teachers. "I believe teachers should be hired, tenured, and then selected for the Leadership Academy. When there are more applicants than openings, first consideration should be given to tenured teachers." Mr. Tortorici stated that it is the board's place to evaluate the superintendent on his plans and programs, and "we can't evaluate him on something by dictating how he does it." Dr. Aronstein defended his decisions, saying that he has worked across Long Island with Leadership Academies, and "a number of fellows I have worked with were not tenured. When I find outstanding teachers or administrators with one or two years experience, the academy is a good vehicle and incentive for them to stay on in the district. One needs to have a flexible way of identifying people as aspiring school leaders."
October is School Board Appreciation Month in Glen Cove, and Marion Voegtlen took a moment to thank the school board members for their "countless hours of volunteerism." She presented each member with a gift and announced that a donation to the Glen Cove Scholarship Fund was made in the board's honor.
The next board of education meeting will be held Nov. 21 at 7:30 p.m. at Connolly School.