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GC BOE Tackles Curriculum Issues, Discusses Transportation Costs

The Board of Education held a special/workshop meeting at Robert M. Finley Middle School in Glen Cove Monday night to continue the discussion of curriculum issues. Board Vice President David Huggins and Trustee Ida McQuair were absent.

Before the meeting officially began, two representatives of the PTA presented the board members with gift bags for their dedicated service to the school community They said that they appreciate the varying perspectives and the time, energy and enthusiasm the board members bring to the job and that all of their efforts are to be commended.

Next, Glen Cove Teachers Association President Karen Ferguson presented each board member with a copy of The Death and Life of the Great American School System by Diane Ravitch, a book that she said she hopes will bring a different perspective to the challenges school districts face today in regards to testing, and that the book gives background on how and when testing teachers began in New York. “The author makes the case that public education is in peril,” she said.

Superintendent Dr. Joseph A. Laria expanded on her sentiments. “In all my years, I’ve never witnessed what I am witnessing today in terms of testing. We like to think that it’s in the best interest of the children but it isn’t  - it’s about money, politics, power and control.  The art of teaching has not changed much over the years; let’s not lose sight of the fundamentals as to what constitutes good teaching.”

Trustee Joel Sunshine raised a concern about the test scores. He said he has noticed a drop at the sixth grade level consistently over the past few years, asking, “Am I correct, and if so how do we fix it?”

“I don’t know yet, but if your trend analysis holds up, we will take a look at the data,” replied Dr. Laria.

Trustee Gail Nedbor-Gross brought up the survey results they received from staff members last month. “We need to address students and families, and I would like to see this as part of the action plan,” she said.

Several board members also raised concerns about the expansion of the honors program, an issue that, according to Board President Richie Maccarone, keeps getting pushed aside every year due to budget issues. Most of the members were in agreement that the program should be implemented at other grade levels.

After a discussion about the Budget Development Timetable, the issue of the high cost of transportation was raised.  Dr. Laria said one cost-saving tactic would be to have staggering start times and explained the logistics of building a parking lot locally, as well as the expenses it would entail. He said a transport specialist would be needed to advise them if they were considering going that route.

During public discussion, one parent raised a concern about homework, requesting that teachers put the information on the website.  Dr. Laria addressed all of the principals in the room, telling them they needed to make it happen.

Rick Smith brought up two points regarding the transportation issue. “If a company says that they have been servicing a community for 46 years without competition, something is radically wrong,” he said. Going further, he said, “Diesel fuel is a carcinogen. Why do we have to run these kinds of vehicles – especially with children in them – when Nassau County uses natural gas? We should look at using vehicles that use clean burning fuel.”