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Board Of Ed Tangles Over Testing, Class Size

Discussion over testing and class size opened a debate on spending at a New Hyde Park-Garden City Park Board of Education work session on Monday, March 31. 

 

The board voted unanimously to reduce the maximum class size for grades 3-6 to 27 from 29 students and to create an additional fifth-grade class next year.  These changes will be up for review next year.  

 

Reducing class size becomes a gamble if an unexpected amount of new students transfer to the district mid-year, according to district officials. If a class goes over the maximum, the district will have to hire additional aides.

 

The board determined that 27 was the smallest sustainable class size, given the current operating budget. Trustee Jennifer Kerrane felt that the district could tap money from reserves to further reduce class size, since many parents see it as a major issue.  

 

“If we’re not giving them what they’re asking for then we’re failing them,” Kerrane said.  

 

Vice President Patricia Rudd cautioned against such a move, emphasizing that reserve funds are meant for emergencies. 

 

“Class size is very important but we also have to be careful what programs we cut,” she said. “Once we cut a program it’s not coming back. If we keep borrowing from our fund balance we are going to end up like some districts in upstate New York that are failing right now.  We are just holding on.” For Kerrane, class size constitutes the type of rainy day problem the money was set aside for. 

 

Kerrane also clashed with other trustees on standardized testing. Eighteen students districtwide had opted out of the following day’s test at the time of the board meeting. Currently, students who opt out must remain in their classroom.

 

State rules say “those students cannot be given busywork to do during this time because that gives them an unfair advantage over their peers taking the test,” explained Superintendent Robert Katulak. They can “sit and stare” or read quietly.

 

The issue arose because one parent, who views non-test takers as a potential distraction, asked that one be removed from her child’s classroom.  

 

For Board President Ernest Gentile, the request wasn’t worth the resources that it would take to fulfill. 

 

“You’re going to utilize a teacher or proctor in the library for one child?” he said.  “Why should we give in for one person? This isn’t an issue districtwide.” 

 

Kerrane supported the parent’s request and asked that students who opt out be removed from the classrooms.

 

“We do a lot of things we don’t have to do,” said Kerrane. “I mean, if one kid is distracted from the test, shouldn’t that be enough? Why are you so adamant? What is our reasoning?” 

 

The board voted 4-1 to have students remain in their classroom, with trustee David Del Santo abstaining. 


News

The debate over New York State Common Core standards continues, with students from local school districts showing a mild resistance to the exams.

 

According to the New York State Allies for Public Education, 39 students in the Herricks School District opted out of the English exam, while 74 did not take the math test. For the New Hyde Park-Garden City Park School District, 17 students did not take the English test while 18 refused to take the math test.

At the Oct. 17 meeting of the Herricks Board of Education, Superintendent of Schools Dr. John Bierwirth discussed the recent investigation of students who have been illegally attending school in the Herricks School District, despite living in outer areas. Bierwirth said that 14 prospective cases were investigated and eight students were forced to leave the district.

 

Board of Education President James Gounaris said weeding out students who are attending school in Herricks under false pretenses is boiled down to one fact: it takes away valuable resources from the children of tax-paying members of the community.


Sports

The Sewanhaka Indians varsity football team hosted Elmont Spartans on Saturday, Oct. 18 in its final home game of the regular season. 

 

It certainly did not go as the Indians had hoped, falling 18-8, in a mistake filled game. Head coach George Kasimatis said the Indians had their chances, but kept digging themselves into a hole with mental mistakes on both sides of the ball. 

 

Playing from behind, senior running back Brenton Mighty was able to break free for a long touchdown run, to put the Indians on the board. 

Sewanhaka Indians Head football coach George Kasimatis told his team to expect a dogfight in this weeks game against the New Hyde Park Gladiators, and he was right after its 35-21 victory last week. 

 

“All the kids know each other really well, it’s always competitive when we play each other,” he said. 


Calendar

PTA Meeting - October 22

International Night - October 23

Halloween Dance - October 24


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