Despite the treacherous thunderstorm that at times caused the lights to flicker, the Herricks Board of Education continued with the regular meeting at the Center Street school.
Representatives Rhonda Meserole and James Pappas, of the district's internal auditor Pappas & Company, were present to report on the analysis of the districts financial affairs. Meserole explained that they have gone over the year's receipts, reimbursements, expenditures, and broken down by payment function and payroll. She explained that, "Although there are a lot of wonderful controls already in place in the Herricks district, there is only one area that needs improvement." Meserole explained, "That area is fixed assets and this does not come as a surprise as the importance of fixed assets is a new piece the state says we have to deal with when recording financial actions."
The auditors recommended tweaking the policy, and finding better procedures to capture all fixed assets correctly. Policy 6440: Accounting of Fixed Assets, which was adopted later in the meeting, will be very helpful in correcting the problem.
Superintendent John E. Bierwirth said, "It's very helpful to have another set of eyes and we will be compliant as possible with the auditor's recommendations." However both Meserole and Pappas promised to continue to re-format the report to be as helpful and accommodating to the district as possible.
In other business, Susan Bergtraum was approved at the meeting as the nominee to NYS School Boards Association Board of Directors. She was recommended by school board president Peter Grisafi, who described Bergtraum as highly "devoted to school districts."
The resolution to transfer funds from Accrued Liabilities and Employee Benefits Reserve Fund to the General Fund was approved as well at the meeting. This means that an amount of $114,833.82 will be moved to the general fund in order to make an obligated payment.
Herricks Community Center tenants will have an increase of 5 percent for the coming year based on recommendations from the Herricks Community Center Board of Directors. Therefore, American Theater Dance Company will pay $67,589; Long Island Advocacy Center will pay $19,348; Eglevsky Ballet Company will pay $6,276 and Young Indian Culture Group will pay $11,781. The board approved the increased rents.
In other news, regarding the Herricks Community Center, director of the Mosaic School Laurie Murdock, spoke at the meeting about the possibility of moving her school for special education children from Temple Emanuel to the community center in the space vacated by the math museum. She said she would greatly love to keep her school within the Herricks school district, especially since one student in the district is considering attending the Mosaic School this fall. Murdock explained that she knew it was not the board's decision, but she said she was at the meeting to "put a face on the issue and make a plea for the kids." She promised that they could afford the rent and were very good tenants, and would require minimal construction to the room in order to make smaller spaces within the room.
Murdock further explained that the school must move from the temple by the end of August. Murdock, who explained that the children at the school are autistic, spoke passionately about "how important it is to mainstream these kids." Plus, she added, "These kids are important to the community, in fact, members of the high school Key Club often volunteer and request internships at the Mosaic School."
The board requested any brochures or information that Murdock may have about the school, as well as a copy of their proof as a non-profit organization. Assistant Superintendent for Business Helen Costigan will take this information to the Herricks Center Advisory Board, whose next meeting is the third week in July. The Advisory Board will then review Murdock's request, among the requests from other possible tenants, and make a decision.
Many revised district policies were approved including: Complaints about School Personnel, School Elections and Budget Vote, Candidates and Campaigning, Voting Procedures, Student Use of Computers in the Herricks Public Schools.
Also approved were the new district policies, including School District Organization Chart, Line and Staff Regulation, Administrative Goals, Administrative Councils, Cabinet Task Forces and Committees, School Building Administration, Development and Dissemination of Administrative Regulations, Administrative Reports, and Deletion of Obsolete Policies. These obsolete policies include removing all job descriptions of board members, as not all were even included.
An extension on the district's agreement with Jamaica Ash & Rubbish Removal Co., Inc. was approved for the 2007-08 year. Dr. Bierwirth also announced that a contract for paper recycling was on the verge of development that will hopefully be done by Labor Day.
Secondary school lunch prices were officially increased at the meeting from $2 to $2.25 beginning Sept. 5. Although the price has been needed to be increase for quite some time, Costigan explained that with a menu that now included quality brand name foods such as Boars Head meats and Hellman's, it was finally fair to raise the price. The board did make it clear that the elementary school lunches will remain at $1.75.
The student accident insurance policy was renewed for the upcoming school year, with the first increase since the 2004-05 year, with the basic coverage increasing from $23,025 to $23,095 and the catastrophic coverage increasing from $3,694 to $3,879.
A great many gifts were accepted, 'with open arms' by the district, the first $1,248 presented by the Center Street PTA in the hope that it will be used to purchase 3M logo mats for the main lobby of the building.
Searingtown School PTA requested that their gift of $4,639.71 be used to purchase physical education equipment. They also gave $928, asking that it be used to purchase a bench to honor retired principal Nancy Lindenauer's service to the school.
Melanie Herzfeld, through the efforts of high school teacher Brendan Curran, presented a Hewlett Packard 200 CD Wide Range Oscillator. Bierwirth accepted all the gifts graciously, and said, "The level of generosity this year from the community has been phenomenal."
Superintendent Bierwirth's contract had, according to recent New York State legislation, the following paragraph added: "Pursuant to 211-b (5)(a), the Superintendent of School shall be required to cooperate fully with any distinguished educator appointed by the Commissioner of Education."
Bierwirth explained that this was put in place to protect against what happened at the Roosevelt School district when they went into debt for $5 million.
Authorization was passed to declare textbooks and an old copy machine as surplus, regarding summer transportation contracts, and special education contracts with Locust Valley Schools and Abilities School for January through June 2007 and the 2007-08 school year, respectively.
TRIAD, a company which investigates and disputes claims of worker's compensation within the district, was approved to administer the district's self-insured Worker's Compensation plan for $20,400 in the 2007-08 year. This is an increase from last year's fee of $19,900.
The fee for the driver education program for the upcoming year was increased, due to an upgrade of fees from the driving company the school uses, as well as new books and lecturers.
However, the new price of $380, up from $350, is still the lowest among surrounding districts, whose fees are up to $500. This is mainly due to the fact that the district does not gain a profit from this program, but simply breaks even.
The health service contracts with Uniondale Public School from 2006-07 were approved, as Herricks must pay Uniondale for their health services over the year.
Numerous textbooks were approved for the upcoming school year, including geometry and algebra books for eighth grade honors class, an integrated algebra book for the ninth grade classes and a statistics book for 12th grade AP classes. The new books being introduced are due to the recent change in math curriculum. A new physics textbook, Conceptual Physics, was reviewed by board Trustee Richard Buckley, and described as successful in trying to "grab kids" with multimedia and hands on applications.
An audit of the phone system was approved with Phone Review, which will make sure Verizon is charging Herricks district the correct amount of money. If they do recover something, the fee is 35 percent of what they recover; however if they do not, Phone Review receives no fee. As school board Vice President Christine Turner said, "you can't lose."
The final approval at the meeting was the participation in cooperative bid of custodial supplies and equipment. The Herricks school district presented a conjoined bid with the Oceanside school district for the commodities available. However, there are 38 other Nassau County School districts participating in the bid, so there is no guarantee.
The next meeting is set for July 19 at 7:15 p.m. From this meeting on, all meetings will be held in the Herricks Community Center.