Written by Margaret Whitely Friday, 03 June 2011 00:00
At the last Herricks School Board meeting Joan Keegan was confirmed as the new principal of the Herricks Middle School.
Community activist Tess Fiorentino then asked why newly elected school board member James Gounaris had not been invited to join the board table as many other candidates had been asked to do prior to installation.
Herricks Board president Christine Turner, who was also returned to the board said, “We have already started an orientation process with Mr. Gounaris. We will have meetings with him and are already sending him correspondence.”
Fiorentino said, “I hope everyone gets treated equally, not like the last candidate.”
Trustee Richard Buckley said, “I take offense to your implying that we did not treat everyone equally. When Mr. Gounaris comes on the board we will treat him like an equal, like all of us. You are implying that we are being impartial and you are wrong.”
Trustees Sanjay Jain said, “You made a statement.”
Fiorentino said, “I did make a statement and I stand by my statement.”
SanJay Jain said, “You made an allegation that there were some members of the board who were treated unfairly. We are here on public display, in front of everybody, I don’t know where was this issue of anybody being treated unfairly?”
Fiorentino said, “I am listening. You all have to look into you own conscience.”
Turner said, “We are setting up various packets to send to Mr. Gounaris along with a book of policies. That is set in motion. Superintendent Jack Bierwirth is going to meet with him, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Dr. Hayes, is going to meet with him and Assistant for Business Helen Costigan is going to meet with him. We are also setting all those meetings in motion. We have to wait until he has time. Now, we have a few weeks before he is installed on the board and we will do all of this, as we have done with everyone.”
Buckley added, “The bottom line is that the politics are over and now it’s time for Jim to come on board with us.”
During the open portion of the meeting a resident said, “I’ve been through dozens of elections, none like this. I’m just glad it is over. I wish that the board would represent me and not endorse a candidate during the campaign. It made the residents extremely uncomfortable. I am sure it’s perfectly legal, but it would have made me more comfortable if my board had been a little more neutral. It just wasn’t nice. I’m sorry if you don’t agree with me, but it left me with a really bad taste in my mouth.”
Board president Christine Turner said, “Believe me I’ve received many emails and many phone calls about this election. There were a lot of things that a lot of people were not happy about.”
The board voted on the following resolution: “Upon the recommendation of the Superintendent of Schools, the board of education hereby abolishes the following clerical position, effective at the end of the day, June 30: Two part-time typist clerks. And, be it further resolved that board of education restores the position for one full-time clerk typist.”
Trustee-elect Gounaris asked why not keep the two part-timers on, who did not receive health insurance, instead of hiring a full-time person who would receive health insurance?
Assistant Superintendent for Business Costigan explained that they retired.
Trustee Peter Grisafi then explained that the full-time person already receives health insurance.
Superintendent Bierwirth said, “If I can put this in a larger context, I think that eight or nine months from now we will be cutting more positions. So, we are taking one year at a time and this whole issue may be gone.”
The board approved an award of bid for driver education at a cost of $305 per student. This is a self-sustaining charge and the charge is the same as the previous year.
The board approved the hiring of Katherine Galan, dba Teacher Registry Consulting, at a cost of $11,250. As the teacher calls to say they will be unable to teach for a certain day, the registry makes a call to the substitute list to make sure a teacher is hired for that position. The Grammar School has another registry they use for their schools to identify their substitute teachers.
The next school board meeting will be held on June 16 at 7:15 p.m. at the Herricks Community Center, 999 Herricks Road, New Hyde Park.