Written by Margaret Whitely Friday, 12 November 2010 00:00
At the last Herricks board meeting teachers were on hand to give an update on the program Response to Intervention (RTI) instituted last year in the district.
The main speaker for the group was Mel Haley, who is the principal of the Denton Avenue School, and she said that the group is especially thrilled this year because they could see the positive results from this extensive intervention program and also on Fundations Correspondence.
Each individual teacher was bursting with pride as they told of the examples of their students who had been in the program and they gave the positive results of the program.
The program is introduced in kindergarten and it doesn’t take very long before the students can sound out letters to the point of being able to actually spell simple words like “mat” and “cat” by sounding out the letters, even in the kindergarten.
The teachers also explained how each and every child is evaluated and the students who seem to be having a harder time in grasping reading and comprehension are taken into a special group where they can be given more intensive help until they are ready to go back into the regular class.
Many teaching aids are given to the teachers through the use of the Fundations Correspondence, which makes it much more interesting for the teachers and for the students.
The program is fascinating and it is easy to see, with such enthusiastic teachers running it, why the entire program is so successful.
Since Herricks Board President Christine Turner was ill, vice-president Richard Buckley took over the meeting and called for the following announcements:
Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Dr. Deirdre Hayes announced that Herricks Student Representative on the school board Meena Yoo won first place for an essay she submitted entitled Celebration of Suburban Diversity. The essay contest was developed in collaboration with the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University and the Eastern Suffolk BOCES. Her essay focused on how Long Island has experienced a major change in the diversity of its population in the last few years. She was present at the board meeting and the board and the audience gave her a huge congratulatory hand.
Meena, along with four other finalists, will be recognized at a ceremony at the Crest Hollow Country Club later this month.
Dr. Hayes also announced that the girl’s volleyball team defeated Calhoun High in the first round of playoffs.
The next team they played was Massapequa, but unfortunately they lost.
Dr. Hayes also announced that Herricks senior Nicole Honey broke a 20-year old Nassau County diving record with a score of 543.10 She is a Nassau County champion diver and will be competing in the New York State championships.
Kelly Kim Is Winner of Shanti Fund Peace Art Competition
The next good news that Dr. Hayes announced was that Kelly Kim, a fifth-grader at the Denton Avenue School, is the winner of the Shanti Fund Peace Art Competition.
One resident questioned as to why, a few weeks ago when there was a tornado watch, were the afternoon activities cancelled but the children were allowed to walk home.
Herricks Superintendent Dr. Jack Bierwirth said, “The children had to get home and at that point there were no tornados on the horizon. It was a tornado watch and as long as that was the case we had to get the students home, we were not going to keep them in school. If we kept the afternoon activities the students would have been going home at a later time period and it was reported that danger would be later in the afternoon. The danger was predicted at the end of that time period. Had there been something on the horizon we would have taken a different action. We are not used to dealing with tornados on Long Island and should they occur more frequently, we will have to develop different rules.”
Another resident complained bitterly about the amount of her taxes. She said she was taking the brunt of those whose assessed valuation had decreased and who received a small amount of increase in their taxes. She said, “I have lived in this community for over 50 years and people in this community are hurting badly due to the increase in taxes. In my community of 116 homes, almost 20 percent of those homes have for sale signs on them because people can no longer afford to live in this district. I think when the school budget is considered, I think you ought to consider the fact that these people are hurting and it’s wrong to force them out of the district.
“And, in line with that, I noted with great interest North Hempstead Town Councilman Dwyer comment about the housing in the district. When you have more than one family living in a house for single family dwelling, I think it is incumbent to do one of two things. Either tell these people they can’t go to school in this district, or else assess them an amount of money to be in this district. I was told that the town can issue summons and the public is the one that will inform the town about what is going on, but the school district has a responsibility also to make sure that all of the children legally belong at the addresses where they are living.”
Dr. Bierwirth said, “We have informed the town, when there is a rental home and all that information is given to the town. That was all discussed the night that Councilman Dwyer was here.”
The resident continued, “But, the school district also has a responsibility to assess these people.”
Dr. Bierwirth countered, “We don’t do assessments.”
The resident went on, “According to the state if a child is in a district to which he is legally entitled to reside, the school district has the obligation to have them pay tuition.”
Dr. Bierwirth said, “We don’t have any tuition paying students, we have them removed.”
The resident asked if they have been removed and Dr. Bierwirth said, “We have removed students who are here illegally. We cannot access a household, for example, who has an extended family.”
The resident said, “There is a maximum number of people who can reside in a single family dwelling depending on the size of that dwelling.”
Dr. Bierwirth answered, “That is the town’s responsibility, not ours.”
The resident said, “Why can’t you not force them to pay tuition. Why should my taxes have to go up $1500.”
Bierwirth said, “You pay your taxes through your property taxes at whatever rate your home is assessed.
The resident said, “but if there are more than the legal number of people living in a house.”
Dr. Bierwirth said, “Then the town needs to remove them, and I remove them from the school.”
The resident said, “You do that?”
Dr. Bierwirth said, “Yes. And, if you have been informed otherwise, you were informed incorrectly.”
Vice-President Buckley said, “We are very vigilant about that. As a matter of fact we have cases pending now who have that situation. It’s a problem, we cannot police what is the town’s job.”
A resident said, “I was told that people who are in violation are issued summons. They go to the town and pay their fines and then they go back home.”
Bierwirth said, “It depends on what the violation is for. If the violation is that the house is not allowed to have a rental unit, that rental unit will end.”
The resident said, “The information is what I am being told. If an address is turned in an inspector then goes to the house. Sometimes he gets into the house and sometimes he cannot get in. Then a violation is issued. They go to court, they pay a fine and then the violation is removed. They are dropping the ball.”
Bierwirth said, “That depends on the nature of the violation. The cases I have submitted to the town they are working and they have not dropped the ball.”
Buckley added, “Jack works very hard to make sure that the students are here are supposed to be here.”
Bierwirth added, “I have worked with the PTAs to tell us if they know of any families who are here illegally, And, in many cases that is how we have found illegal families.”
The resident suggested that someone should be hired to seek out illegal homes and children who are here illegally.
Dr. Bierwirth said, “That would be fine with me if the school board wants to hire someone to do that.”
The same resident said, “When the schools are closed for religious holidays, no school activities are supposed to be conducted.”
Dr. Bierwirth said, “In separation of church and state we happen to be closed when there is a religious holiday, we don’t close for religious holidays.”
When it was suggested it was just semantics, he said, “no, it’s not.”
The resident said, “I’m not going to argue, but football players were practicing on the field, in Herricks uniforms. And, that should not happen. I hope that this does not happen again.”
She repeated her threat several times. She said it was a board resolution issued around 1970.
Herricks Superintendent Dr. Jack Bierwirth announced the acceptance of $1,300,000 for Capital Improvements from Expanding Our Childrens Education and Learning (EXCEL) Funding Source. The grant was from the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York to be used for capital improvements to various buildings as per the terms listed in the Grant Disbursement Agreement between the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York and the Herricks School.
It was explained by Dr. Bierwirth that the bond issue included monies out of the EXCEL grant.
He said, “We pay for the improvements and then submit vouchers in order to get the money.”
Assistant Superintendent for Business Helen Costigan said, “They get all the requests and then they go out and borrow money to finance the bonds.”
Dr. Bierwirth said, “I think at this stage, everything we have been promised we will get monies for.”
The Herricks Art Boosters Association gave a gift to the district in the amount of $1, 150 to be used for the following:
$463.56 to purchase Art Document DVD’s for the middle school students.
$310.95 to purchase a digital camera with 3 lenses that will be used with the Digital Photography course at the high school.
$375 for the 4th grade students at Searingtown School to visit the Hillwood Museum at C. W. Post College.
The board also declared two items as surplus items. One a large electric mixer and one milk orator.
The meeting ended and the next meeting was set for Nov. 18 at the Denton Avenue School.