For the past few years, for School Board Appreciation Week, one of the schools in the district has been picked to present a remembrance of that school, to then be hung in the Herricks School Board room at the Herricks Community Center.
This year, Searingtown School Principal Nancy Lindenauer, along with 2nd grade teacher Deidre Bambrick and Bill Clark, the photographer, presented a breathtakingly beautiful photo to the board entitled, "Heart of America."
Lindenauer explained that after 9/11 they started the tradition of taking a picture of the entire school in memory of those families whose loved ones lost their lives on that day. She explained that it has given great joy to everyone who has participated. The board was thrilled and thanked all those at Searingtown School and the photo is now hanging in its boardroom.
Board president Peter Grisafi then resumed the meeting with a request for announcements. Trustee Nalini Chugh announced and highly recommended the upcoming Fourth International Film Festival from Nov. 14 through Nov. 19. A complete list of all the movies and their location may be obtained at the Herricks Community Center and at all the schools.
Grisafi then opened the meeting to the public. Questions were asked regarding the savings the district is experiencing since there is no varsity football team this year. Herricks Superintendent Dr. Jack Bierwirth said that actually the only savings are the fees for referees because the coaches are still on board training the junior varsity team this year in preparation for next year's varsity team.
The same resident asked just how much the wireless connections would cost. Dr. Bierwirth explained that the cost is very minimal since the district will buy the laptop carts, which come with the wireless on it. Further, it was asked if the district is spending additional money on the Internet service. Bierwirth went over the explanation, again, that was originally given at the Oct. 5 meeting. He said that the district will be expanding the Internet capacity by 15 times and that it will cost essentially nothing from the district budget because of the high rate of reimbursement from State Aid and E-Rate.
The board then heard from its Internal Auditor Rhoda Meserole, a partner in the firm of Pappas and Company. She explained that each district is required to have an Internal Auditor in addition to an External Auditor and Internal Claims Auditor. Meserole said she had been hired on July1 for the 2006-'07 school year. She briefly went over the role of an External Auditor. She said she was to prepare an assessment of risk for the district and report to the School Board Audit Committee. She said that the risk assessment entails gathering data, reviewing board polices, management letters, reports from the External Auditor, Internal controls, etc. and gathering all the data used to evaluate those controls and testing them throughout the district. After this is finished the final report will go to the school board.
Grisafi thanked Meserole for her update and said that when the board is in receipt of the report, which should be in February, it will share as much as it can with the public. He explained that part of the New York State Comptroller's 5-Point Plan is that the each district in New York State appoint an Audit Committee and the Herricks Board elected to have the full board as the audit committee and therefore no board members would be left out of the process. He also commented that the Roslyn School Board only had one board member sit on the audit committee, which obviously didn't work. Grisafi added, in the interest of confidentiality, that only the board members are allowed to meet with the internal auditor in executive session to review areas of concern.
The next item on the agenda was a very involved discussion by Herricks Math Chairperson, Bill Ma on the complicated changes in the secondary math curriculum.
The three areas he stressed were:
1) Algebra, Geometry and Trigonometry
2) Math Research Program
3) Math Modeling
Ma explained that the state has changed the math curriculum from Sequential Math back to the basics of Algebra, Geometry and Trigonometry. Ma also handed out a detailed timeline graph during his report and the graph may be obtained by calling his office at the high school.
Ma also announced that this year all Middle School Long Island Math Fair programs will be coordinated by the math teachers and will be open to all students when previously it had only been open to the students in the Gemini program. Further, he announced that all math research projects will be placed under one umbrella and three teachers will oversee the research team.
Ma was most enthused about this math application. He said it was the "hottest" concept in math today especially in terms of jobs for graduates because it integrates several major disciplines of math. He said it is sometimes referred to as "data mining." He said that developing a math curriculum program in the future to integrate this concept was being discussed. He also handed out copies of the Jan. 23 article on the subject in BusinessWeek going into detail regarding the subject.
At the end of his very involved presentation everyone on the board complimented Ma on his report.
A regulation was presented to the board from the music department. The main discussion centered on the subject of holiday music and music that is associated with one's own religion. The paragraph referring to that topic reads as follows:
"Holiday music, and music that is associated with one's own religion is very important in the lives of most people, and the value and importance of that music is not to be underestimated. In keeping with our policy of multiculturalism, Herricks seeks to provide students of all cultures with experiences, including those in the music department, which provide educational value while supporting the rich variety of cultures with which this district is blessed. In examining the published music, which is available for use with our students, it is clear that there is a wealth of holiday music associated with Christmas and, to a lesser extent, with Chanukah. The same is not true of music for other cultural and religious and holidays. To be true to our own multicultural policy, which states that we will provide, "sensitive programs designed to increase multicultural awareness and understanding, we must seek to represent all cultures equally, and presenting music that represents only two of the many cultures would not help us to do so. We will seek, in our concert season, to provide programming that may reflect seasonal rather than holiday settings and which reflects the high standards and quality of this district's music program, brings challenging repertoire to the convert stage and remains in compliance with our own district's Multicultural Policy."
There was a long discussion regarding this topic and trustee Chugh suggested getting in touch with the World Music Institute, which would expose students to different types of music from all over the world.
Dr. Bierwirth explained that the reason for the regulation was that last year a situation occurred when a wonderful song was chosen for the concert that mentioned a holiday in it. The word was changed out of the fear that someone would object to the song although it was chosen for its musical attributes.
After the discussion, the school board approved the regulation.
A resolution was passed to provide emergency funding for a capital project to replace the boiler at 99 Shelter Rock Road that is from 30 to 40 years old and award a contract to replace the boiler before the weather becomes too cold.
The board approved the transfer of $38, 250 from the unappropriated fund balance to the capital improvement line of the 2006-2007 budget. The board then approved the awarding of a contract in the amount of $38,250 to Thermo Tech Combustion, Inc. of Bellmore to remove the old heating system at 99 Shelter Rock Road and install a new HB Smith 28-5 series steam boiler and Carlin oil burner.
Herricks Director of Facilities James Brown said that the district would achieve significant energy savings with the new boiler. Further, he said it will be under warrantee and a maintenance contract will be maintained.
The meeting adjourned into executive session. The next Herricks Board meeting will be held on Nov. 16 at the Searingtown School at 6:30 p.m. At 7:30 p.m. the board will break from its regular meeting to meet with the Herricks Teacher's Association.