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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

School spirit was at an all-time high when community members joined students, administrators, faculty and staff for Sewanhaka High School’s annual homecoming parade and game.

 

The festivities kicked off with a Pep Rally on Sept. 19 on the school’s athletic field and continued on Sept. 20 with a parade that featured colorful banners and beautifully constructed floats based on this year’s “countries” theme. 

The Sewanhaka Central High School District selected Brentwood-based Park East Construction as its bond construction management firm last week. The group will oversee the $86.6 million in improvements coming to the district. Park East will analyze school architect Wiedersum Associates’ plans before applying for New York State Education Department approval.

 

“They are going to make sure the [firms that win district contracts] do the work right,” District Superintendent Dr. Ralph Ferrie said. “They’re going to make sure [the engineer’s] drawings are right before they are sent up to New York State. [Park East] reports directly to the architect and the Board of Education to make sure what we say we’re going to do is done well.”


Sports

The Hicksville boys volleyball team improved to 3-3 on the season by topping Sewanhaka in three sets by the scores of 25-14, 25-20 and 25-13. 

 

“We lost the first few matches this year but bounced back to win the last three,” said Hicksville’s second year Head Coach Kevin Bunting. “We have a young team—we lost three starters last year. We have no seniors on this team, but we have three juniors,” he added. Bunting noted that it will bode well for next year’s team when they have even more experience to build on.

Seniors Daniella Ford and Margie Londono highlight a Sewanhaka Indians girls soccer team vying for its second straight winning season. 

 

Ford, who is in her fourth season as starting goalie for the Indians, netted a season-high 24 saves in a 3-1 loss to Valley Stream Central. 

 

“She’s a stud back there,” said Sewanhaka third-year coach Eric Premisler, whose team is 0-3 as of press time, after going 8-3-1 last season. “If we can stop a team from taking five shots because of good defense, Daniella is going to stop another 15 shots. And we’re going to have a chance to win every game.”


Calendar

Town Zoning Meeting - October 1

Silver Sneaker Fitness - October 2

Live Music - October 3


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