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Herricks School Chiefs To Retire

The upcoming retirements of Superintendent of Schools Dr. John Bierwirth, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Dr. Deirdre Hayes, and Herricks High School Principal Dr. Jane Modoono were officially announced at the May 29 meeting of the Herricks Board of Education last week.

However, the trio gave ample notice, with Bierwirth and Modoono remaining at their posts throughout the upcoming 2014-15 school calendar; or, in the words of Bierwirth, “you’re still stuck with us for another year.” Both Bierwirth and Modoono’s will end their run in Herricks on June 30, 2015, with Hayes departing on Dec. 31.

Board of Education President James Gounaris bade the departing trio of administrators farewell, stating their impact upon the Herricks School District will not be forgotten any time soon.

“It will be difficult finding replacements for you all,” he said. “You’re all professionals and you’ve done an incredible job for the students and the community on a daily basis. But we’ll rise to the challenge.”

Bierwirth, who has served as superintendent since 2001, said that his career in Herricks was a rewarding one, and the decisions of both him and his colleagues to retire were not easy.

“We’re in good health, and we felt that we ought to do that for you all and give you the time to make the transition right,” he said. “Every educator should be lucky enough to work in a place like Herricks at least once in their careers.”

Hayes also had an emotional recollection of her time in the Herricks district, thanking all for each doing their part in putting the education and care of the students under their watch first and foremost.

“It’s been a pleasure and a privilege to work here....this is a phenomenal district,” she said. “The people here are just the best, and we feel so honored that we were able to end our careers in a special place like this.”

Gounaris stated that plans are in place to find successors for the three retirees. The extended notice the district received “would afford them the time to get the job done right,” he said.

“We’ve known about this for a few months now, so we’re ready for this,” Gounaris said. “The board has been active in seeking out search firms, and I would say that it’s safe to say that at the next board meeting we should probably make the announcement of who it will be and have a resolution authorizing us to go forward with this process.”

Modoono was not present at the meeting.

Lunch Increase Coming

The Herricks School Board voted to increase the price of the elementary school lunch from $2.25 to $2.50 for the 2014-15 school year. Assistant Superintendent for Business Helen Costigan noted the hike in price—the district’s first since 2008—is to help the district adhere to new federal guidelines. However, the new menus brought about by these guidelines have “been met with some resistance from the student body,” she said.

“The guidelines began this year, and they’re very rigid...you can not serve other items other than what are within these guidelines,” Costigan said. “There are specific portion sizes and whole grains must be served, which are more costly. Sales are currently down about four percent, and kids were initially reluctant to eat the whole grain products, but they are getting used to them, and we do get subsidies from the federal government, and if we were to do anything different from the guidelines, we would lose the subsidies.”

Program Restorations On The Docket?

Bierwirth spoke on how the some effective financial management in regards to the school district’s bonds has resulted in some extra money that will be used to restore some of the programs cut in Herricks recently due to financial constraints.

“We have re-financed one bond, and floated a new bond, and the combined savings relative to the budget was about $140,000 a year for the next seven years,” he said. “We will be using the money to restore some sports clubs and various activities, such as drama, student government, boys and girls basketball.”

“We tried to come up with things to put back in that were sustainable,” Gounaris added. “The board’s priority was to create more opportunities for more kids.”

Also, members of the Herricks Indo-U.S. Community, Inc., donated 20 Apple iPad Mini’s for school district use.