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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

Dedicating itself to brining freshly made burgers to its customers, Smashburger in New Hyde Park provides gourmet hamburgers, but with a twist.

 

Since its grand opening on Oct. 18, 2013, business at Smashburger has been a smash, says owner Irwin Kruger.

 

“The location has been great for us,” added Kruger. “We have good tenants that surround us. It’s conveniently located on Marcus Avenue, and there’s plenty of parking.”

At the July 18 meeting of the Herricks Board of Education, the school district addressed a recent response by the State Education Department (SED) in regards to a recent hot-button topic that has many parents, students, and teachers alike up in arms—the rapid and stressful increase in state assessment testing.

 

Superintendent of Schools Dr. John Bierwirth recently received an email from Assistant SED Commissioner Dr. Julia Rafal-Baer, addressing the concerns of both parents and school districts in New York regarding the great deal of stress that many students have been put under as a result of what many have referred to “excessive state testing.” 

 

Many parents and school administrators argue these rob children of valuable classroom learning time in favor of multiple standardized assessment exams designed to gauge teacher performance, and

Rafal-Baer’s email acknowledged the difficulties that many students have been undergoing since the testing was implemented last year. 


Sports

The Sewanhaka Indians’ very talented lacrosse defenseman, Tyler Regnier, will be playing next season for the Division 1 Rutgers University Scarlet Knights.

 

Regnier started playing lacrosse as a third grader, when he played with the New Hyde Park Police Activity League, a youth lacrosse program.

 

“At first, I wasn’t too serious,” he said recently. “But I just stuck with it, a lot of training, a lot of travel and a lot of practice made it happen.”

Students at Charles Water Karate & Fitness in Williston Park received belt promotions after completing a series of extensive exams.

 

Graduates

From New Hyde Park:  Jonah Khorrami to brown belt, Isabella Castelli to purple belt.

 

From Mineola:  Alexandra Santos and Kayla Toal to, Kayla Toal yellow belt, Jason DeJesus to Yellow/White Belt.

 

From Williston Park:  Mario Lombardo to red belt, Daniel Melore to blue belt, Grayson Lee to yellow/white belt.

 

From Garden City:  Alexandra Delgais: to brown belt, Jake Delgais to yellow/white belt.

 

From Roslyn Heights:  Suhani Jain to red belt.  

 

From Uniondale:  Isiah McClean to yellow/white belt.



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