Herricks Superintendent Dr. Jack Bierwirth announced that Herricks Physical Education teacher, Joan Keegan, has been appointed the new Herricks High School Assistant Principal.
In announcing the appointment, Dr. Bierwirth said he was delighted to receive her application. He said, "Herricks High School can now be assured that it has a first class team with the appointment of Herricks High Principal Jane Modoono and as her assistant Joan Keegan."
Dr. Bierwirth said that now Keegan's first responsibility will be to find somebody to replace herself."
A report was submitted by the Character Education Committee and after many meetings it was decided that rather than focusing on the creation of a Herricks character education curriculum, or even the mapping of imbedded features of character education throughout a student's thirteen years, it would make a series of recommendations that would hopefully improve the working relationship of various groups within the schools.
In addition, the committee wished to encourage parents to come together to understand better how character education is discussed and modeled, plus to have parents share their thoughts with each other. It was also suggested that character education should become a board goal for 2002-2003. The group elected David Miller and Marilyn Brown as co-chairpersons of the Character Education Committee.
There was a long discussion regarding the AP summer reading assignments. Some opinions expressed by those in the audience were that students should be afforded a break in the summer. However, it was discussed that students who find, because they have specific summer plans or commitments, the requirements too burdensome should use their guidance counselor as an advocate to negotiate an individual list of required assignments with the appropriate teachers or chairpersons.
At present three departments require students to complete summer assignments for Advance Placement courses they are: English: English Language and Composition and English Literature. Social Studies: European History, American History and United States Government and Politics. World Language: French and Spanish.
It was also emphasized that the assignments should be discussed early in the class early in the school year.
It was also emphasized that summer assignments need to be reasonable in length and meaningfully related to instruction and examination. Further, no more than one or two books and one or two written assignments for a total of 2,500 words or their equivalent should be required for the opening day of school. The assignments must be reviewed by the department chairperson.
In addition to the AP courses, English students in 9 Honors and 10 Honors are required to read one book or its equivalent. In Social Studies, Global Studies and American History courses, students are required to choose one of several books suggested by the social studies department.
Another long discussion ensued with the proposal of granting domestic partner health coverage.
President Emilia Sutz announced the coverage with a resolve that she placed before the school board: "Resolved on the recommendation of the superintendent of schools, the board of education hereby approves an agreement with the Herricks Teacher's Association regarding the availability of health insurance for same sex domestic partners."
Dr. Bierwith explained that the wording of the resolve was carefully crafted by the school board attorney in conjunction with the Empire Plan. It was determined that couples of opposite sex, living together, who have the option to marry, but chose not to, would not be covered.
A member of the audience wanted to know what portion of the health insurance that the employees paid and what portion the district pays and it was established that for a family the district covers $7, 500 of the cost while the teacher covers $1,117.08
A member of the audience said he felt that it wasn't fair for persons who are of the opposite sex and living together not to have the same coverage as those of the same sex.
Dr. Bierwirth said, "If I wish to make a commitment to my girlfriend, the law provides an option for me, but if I am of the same sex, the law does not provide an option for me."
He said he has discussed this in length with legal counsel and he has recommended that the district adopt the resolve.
He then read from the Empire definition that says, "You may cover your same or opposite sex domestic partner as your dependent under NYSHIP. A domestic partnership, for eligibility under NYSHIP, is one in which you and your partner are 18 years or older, unmarried and not related in a way that would bar marriage, living together, involved in a lifetime relationship and financially independent. Effective, January 1, 1996, to enroll a domestic partner, you must have been in the partnership for one year."
An audience member said, "My issue is not with this ruling, but with the wording, because opposite sex couples are not eligible and perhaps in some case they are unable to be married with some very legitimate reasons, so they are being penalized."
Dr. Bierwirth said that if the district is covered by the Empire Plan then their laws must be followed.
Newly elected trustee Karin Filippi said, "Dr. Bierwirth we always refer to ourselves as an "elite" district. How many other elite districts have passed such a plan? His answer was none.
President Emilia Sutz said they will bring all the concerns of the public back to the attorney and will come back to the board for further discussion.
The board will hold a revote of the failed budget on June 20 at the Herricks Community Center, 999 Herricks Road, New Hyde Park, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.