''The budget process starts this evening, in terms of the public,'' stated Board of Education President Judi Bosworth, as she opened a Jan. 21 board meeting that would hear requests from the UPTC (United Parent Teacher Council) and the GNTA (Great Neck Teachers Association).
UPTC Budget Chairperson Diane Leyden said that the requests are preliminary requests, and many deal with ''global'' issues that affect the entire district. Such issues include: traffic in and around many school buildings, specifically at the beginning and the end of the school days; air-conditioning in specific health/safety/learning areas of many schools; school security, and the need for uniform clocks and intercoms in many of the schools; and continuation of asbestos removal when and where necessary.
Each school presented its list in priority order. Cost estimates came from district consultant David Kincaid.
The Village School had one request, to create a science lab, necessary to teach sciences. The cost would be $100,000.
At the North Middle School there were three items---creating an additional vehicular entrance on the Arrandale Avenue property (cost to be studied); a $15,000 auditorium upgrade; and a $60,000 upgrade on the intercom phones. Also, North Middle is looking for a 0.4 staff position for eighth grade teaming. Responding, Superintendent of Schools William Shine noted work needed at both North Middle and South Middle, and noted that the board is still trying to keep the budget increase at three percent, versus the 1.5 percent increase in the consumer price index. Ms. Bosworth also reminded that many needs will be addressed in the bond issue, and others will be ''kept in mind."
At this point, Dr. Shine stated that language labs at the secondary schools will be fully implemented.
Regarding South Middle, they asked for work on some rooms (which is covered in the bond issue); additional storage shelving in Gym 11 ($20,000); and replacement of gym mats ($20,000).
For North High, the requests are as follows: language lab completion and math center air-conditioning ($50,000); electrical work for stage lights ($90,000); and $100,000 for intercom system replacement.
South High asked for $50,000 for language lab completion that is being constructed under the bond issue; $115,000 for implementation of office/classroom flex-space; and $5,000 to continue replacing chalkboards.
The John F. Kennedy Elementary School needs $10,000 for new playground equipment; $200,000 to reconfigure main office space; and $35,000 to construct an overhang in the west parking lot.
There was then talk of security systems. Dr. Shine said that it would cost $242,000 for security systems in all four elementary schools, for a system that notified the main office if any door to the building was ajar.
At the Saddle Rock Elementary School, they asked for replacement of the intercom and clock systems, estimated to cost $75,000; ceiling fans in some rooms, at a cost of about $8,000; and $150,000 worth of auditorium seating upgrade. Dr. Shine noted that he has yet to find an idealized intercom system that really works.
At the E.M. Baker Elementary School they asked for work in the new instrumental room ($15,000); soundproofing for the new vocal room ($8,000); and renovation of the upper field ($45,000). Dr. Shine assured that the playground is safe---school personnel inspect grounds every morning.
The Lakeville Elementary School requests include air-conditioning the nurse's office ($10,000); a uniform central clock system ($9,000); and a loading platform ($50,000).
Parkville School asked for the following: air-conditioning the library ($45,000); improving east parking lot lighting ($30,000; and replacing main office floor tiles, which requires asbestos abatement ($10,000).
The GNTA was heard next, represented by President Nancy Chauvin. She spoke of the great budget pressures, about having to make choices, and she urged that ''the demands of the educational program drive the budget, as they always have.''
Ms. Chauvin spoke about concern about the number of hourly teachers, ''as a general trend.'' She said that often retiring teachers are replaced by hourly teachers. One specific area of concern is TESL teachers, who were made full-time 15 years ago, have retired, and have been replaced by hourly teachers. ''Maybe the solution is not necessarily full-time positions for everyone, but a part-time status as opposed to hourly status,'' she suggested, as she asked the board to revisit the issue.
''You've brought up some very important issues,'' said Ms. Bosworth, adding, ''Students' needs are most important.'' Ms. Bosworth also emphasized that parents have not panicked over the new state assessments---''There is such trust in the district...''
Jack Kamins, assistant superintendent for psychological services and special education, presented a report on special education at the meeting. He began, stating that the district averages about five percent IEP diplomas---additionally the district averages only a four to five percent dropout rate among special education students, where the average on Long Island is 14 percent.
He went on to explain that each IEP (for each special ed. students) is written individually for each student, and he spoke of ''push-in'' services instead of taking students with special needs out of the classrooms. Consultant teachers help such students, making sure they get maximum benefit from lessons. He also said that team-teaching, with regular teachers and special ed. teachers, can be included in classes. As well, there are tutorial programs in the middle schools and in the high schools.
Dr. Kamins also noted that, ''because of (our) nurturing environment,'' the district sends out fewer students (to BOCES and other special programs) than other neighboring districts.
And then Dr. Kamins discussed IDEA reauthorization, which took place in June 1997. This is a law that the district has to follow, yet the regulations have not been finalized. For example, two teachers are now mandated for a special ed. committee, yet no funding is supplied, and children are deprived of a teacher for an entire day.
As for the new state mandates and assessments, Dr. Kamins said that there is supposed to be a safety net in place for youngsters with disabilities. A modified passing score should be in place for students with disabilities who take the Regents.
Charts that Dr. Kamins presented touched on several topics, including the following: Great Neck initiatives, standards/graduation requirements; and a program wish list.
The Great Neck initiatives are as follows: individualized programs; push-in services; consultant teachers; related services; resource rooms; self-contained classes (for ID students); team taught classes at the high school and middle school levels; small individual subject area classes; special ed. Regents tutorials at the high school and middle school levels; and an alternative high school.
Standards and graduation requirements include: all students with disabilities must take required Regents exams; baseline Regents data is collected; a modified Regents passing score for students with disabilities is established for the next year; if the student with a disability fails the Regents, the student may retake the Regents and/or the RCT (for the next two years); CSE determined test modifications will continue to be available; the freshman class that will graduate in 2004 is the last class with a local diploma option; the freshman class that will graduate in 2004 will not have the availability of taking any RCT exams; and transcripts will be annotated to indicate exams passed with a modified score.
As for a program wish list, the following was presented: preschool evaluation site (and all students should be evaluated); a provider of pre-school special education; elementary school inclusion class; early elementary parenting program; emotionally fragile middle school and high school programs; and an alternative educational environment.