At the beginning of the last Herricks School Board meeting the board was honored because it was School Board Recognition Week. Each board member was presented with a candle in a cupcake and then Superintendent Dr. Jack Bierwirth gave each board member a wacky item crafted by the students rather than a formal gift and because it was so different that it was fun.
Dr. Bierwirth then announced that the administration was halfway through attending individual schools to describe to the parents and staff, in detail, what impact the construction will have on that school. Dr. Bierwirth said that the meetings have been valuable since they have pinpointed issues that needed to be resolved.
Dr. Bierwirth also announced that the Annual Breakfast with the Community and Clergy was held recently. He said the attendance was wonderful.
Traffic at the high school was also discussed. The plan so far is to reduce the number of parking spaces at the far right of the entrance to the high school in order to make room for more students to be dropped off. Two guards will be stationed and will move ten cars at a time to the drop-off area and the doors at the auditorium will also be opened along with the two doors at the front of the building.
Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Dr. Ronald Barnes reported that Extended Day Kindergarten began its third year on Oct. 1. All reports from principals, teachers and students were that it went very well.
Dr. Barnes reminded everyone what Extended Kindergarten involves for the students. He said all students go for a half-day in the morning or afternoon and twice a week they go to an extended additional 90 minutes at the school and once-a-month on Fridays they return for another 90 minutes. Dr. Barnes said that the issue that has not been solved is one of space. Many times the Extended Day Kindergarten moves around the building with carts trying to find an area to meet.
However, hopefully, that problem will be solved by next September with the completion of the construction. Dr. Barnes said that the board could think about an all-day kindergarten if there were no more than four kindergarten sections. Another option he said would be to think about an "Expanded" Kindergarten which would involve three full days and two half-days. Dr. Barnes said whatever option is chosen will depend on the budget for next year.
A detailed report with a booklet that was handed out of the Educational Technology program was the next item on the agenda. The report orchestrated by Don Barton was very extensive and very technical. That booklet, which contains all of the information that Barton and his colleagues reported on, can be obtained at the Administration Office on Shelter Rock Road or by calling Linda Steele at 248-3105.
Dr. Bierwirth said that in order to streamline the budget process he has proposed that the budget be set up with the items on the left-hand side of the page and the cost on the right-hand side of the page. If an explanation is warranted it will be given. For instance if the dollar amount of textbooks is going up by 5 percent, that does not need an explanation, but, if it is going up by 35 percent, an explanation will be given.
The purpose Dr. Bierwirth said is to communicate and to open the district's book up and make it as self-explanatory as possible. Further, it was suggested that the administrators not go through the budget from page one to page 546. But, to take questions and to identify key issues. Dr. Bierwirth said, "I am starting from the premise that this board and staff has done an excellent job in the past forming a budget. If so, we don't need to start all over again as if we have never done a budget before."
He added that the timeline would be the same with the same meeting dates but he said he would not schedule a series of presentations.
School Board President Emilia Sutz added that the material would be available to anyone with a question on any line in the budget. Dr. Bierwirth added, "If there isn't a question then we won't spend the time on that item."
The board agreed with the proposed project and that is how the budget will be approached this year.
Dr. Bierwirth also added, "In light of the fact that this is an usual budget year and it has become more unusual since Sept. 11 given the impact of the events in New York and the United States, should we consider setting a target for a budget increase. I'm not assuming that the target is what will remain, but it is a start."
President Sutz suggested that they start with the amount of the bond and then build on that and it was agreed to add the other items such as the contractual obligations and work from there. She said that the most important thing now is to deal with how the budget will be presented and how will the board arrive at the budget amount. She said, "We did make a commitment that we would give Dr. Bierwirth, and the community members that will sit on the budget committee, a basic direction of what number we will be starting with."
It was decided that all of the people who will be submitting budgets for their departments will get together and work quickly with Assistant Superintendent for Business Stephen Golas to bring him a bottom line number. After he works up the numbers the committee will be set in place and they will all work on the final budget numbers together.