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Gounaris, Turner Take Herricks School Board Oath of Office

Recently elected James Gounaris and re-elected Christine Turner were issued the oath of office at the Herricks reorganizational meeting by Assistant Superintendent for Business Helen Costigan.

Christine Turner returns as board president and Richard Buckley as vice-president. Buckley was absent from the meeting because he is on vacation.

Gounaris then joined the board table replacing former board member Paul Ehrbar, who did not run for re-election.

The board then went through their many resolves including the reappointment of the Illustrated News as an official paper and naming September 1 as the date for the building tour set for 6:30 p.m., followed by a regular meeting at the Herricks Community Center which will start at 8 p.m. - not the customary time of 7:15 p.m. due to the building tour.

Board Meetings Set

The board then outlined the following board meeting dates:  

July 21, Aug. 11 (to set tax levy), Sept. 15, Oct. 6, Oct. 20, Nov. 3, Nov. 17, Dec. 8, at the Middle School and Jan. 5, Jan. 19, at the High School.

Feb. 2, Feb. 16, March 2, March 15 - all regular and budget meetings; Apr. 15 (BOCES hearing), April 26, May 3 (budget hearing), May 15 (budget vote at Herricks Community Center gym), May 24, June 7 (recognition of student representatives and retirees), June 28.

All meetings will be held at 7:15 p.m. except when noted and all meetings will be held at Herricks Community Center, 999 Herricks Road, New Hyde Park, unless otherwise stated.

During the reorganizational meeting, trustee Gounaris asked if the meetings could be held at the various schools, as had been done in the past. Herricks Superintendent Dr. Jack Bierwirth explained that in the interest of saving money for the district it would be more cost effective to keep the meetings at the Community Center rather than having to open up the individual schools for the meetings.  After a conversation with the members of the board, it was agreed that most board members like having the meetings at different schools, but in the interest of being frugal,  the board agreed to have the meetings at the Community Center.

This, of course, excludes the meetings which will be held at both the Middle School and High School, when the students will have a chance to meet with members of the school board.

Herricks Regular Board Meeting

The board then adjourned the reorganizational meeting and called to order the Herricks regular meeting.

At the outset of the regular meeting the board passed the following revised policies:

• School District Organization Chart: The Saturday Recreation Program was deleted from this chart since it is not included in the 2011-2012 budget.

• Accounting of Fixed Assets and Fund Balance Policy.

• Revised Resolution regarding the donation of playgound equipment from the Denton Avenue School PTA.

Board president Turner then asked for any comments from the public and on two separate occasions parents who have fourth-grade students complained that the classes have swelled to large numbers, some as large as 27 students.   She then asked if there had been any further discussion regarding this problem.

Superintendent Bierwirth said, “There has been a great deal of discussion.  We are going to give another report to the board as soon as possible. We do have three or four other classes who are close to the guidelines and we will give that information to the board and it will be the board’s decision as to whether or not they want to add classes.  But we have not added any classes, yet.  However, the board did not change the guidelines.  They asked us to look very carefully at each class size.”

Another resident said that the increase of class sizes is “embarrassing” to the district.

Another resident wanted to know the “job description” of the man who is going to be involved with attendance. At the last meeting he was introduced to the board and to the public. His name is Joseph Wendling and he will also be working as a consultant for the New Hyde Park/Garden City Park School District.

Bierwirth said, “We met with him and a whole team of people and we had a good discussion with him. He saw how we could best use him and how we can take the best advantage of his talents. This is something he can’t do in the other districts he works in and that is to have teams of people.  Therefore, if we need to cover a residence and the school at the same time, we have the staff to cover that kind of investigation and this will allow him the speed and efficiency in doing his job. We are also going to ask him to go and speak at all the PTA meetings so everyone will know who he is.”

The same resident wanted to know how much he would charge for his services and Dr. Bierwirth said he charges $20 an hour with a maximum of 40 hours a week and the balance of the work will be absorbed by district staff.

It was also ascertained that he is a part-time consultant for both districts and he is a retired New York City detective.

Another resident wanted to know what impact the tax cap legislation would have on the district and Dr. Bierwirth said that as of yet it has not been determined how each district will be affected.

The board then clarified the donation of playground equipment from the Denton PTA in the amount of $30,000 as follows, to be purchased from the Playworld Systems: Treehouse Play system, Pirate Ship Play System, Quattro Bouncer and Covered Sand Table.

(Note: This donation was approved by the Herricks board on June 2.  However, it was noted in the resolution that the district would accept the funds to purchase the equipment.  Instead, the PTA purchased the equipment directly.)

Athletic Budget

It was explained that the athletic budget was reinstated, but both the Athletic Boosters and Athletic Director James Petricka are looking into perhaps making outside usage of the facilities paying nominal fees. Nothing has been decided as yet.

The next school board meeting will beheld at 7:15 p.m. at the Herricks Community Center.