Written by Christopher Nesterczuk, Manhasset@Antonnews.com Thursday, 19 September 2013 00:00
There is no shortage of talent and commitment to public service in Manhasset Schools. Thursday’s Board of Education meeting kicked off by recognizing Manhasset students for their remarkable achievements.
Fourth grader Emma Anderson’s art work was selected to be the cover of the 2013-2014 Manhasset calendar. Peter Murphy, a fourth grader at Shelter Rock, was one of 54 national winners of a recipe contest for his hurricane soup and had the honor of having dinner at the White House on July 9 where he met the Obama’s.
Michael Lee was honored for being named the New York State merit winner for the 15th Annual Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge. Michael was only one of thirty-four state winners nationwide, and as such is considered a national semi-finalist. Michael’s research consisted of analyzing the effects of caffeine, epranephrine and melatonin, which he hypothesized, would increase the rate of regeneration in plenaria - organisms ideal for stem cell studies.
After a concerted effort, Aden Horowitz attained her goal - raising $13,000 to restore parts of the districts elementary music programs which were eliminated after recent budget cuts. Aden’s organization’s sole mission is to support music programming in the schools, and any donations beyond the $13,000 will go to that purpose.
“This has been the best meeting we’ve had in a long time because we opened up [the meeting] with recognition to our students,” an excited Cardillo said. “It really energizes the district.”
For Manhasset schools, however, it’s not all roses as the student recognition ceremony quickly turned to a discussion of the district’s thorny realities of increased class sizes and loss of security services. Enrollment growth at the elementary levels have been moderate, with Munsey Park opening flat but Shelter Rock increasing by 21 students for a total of 797 students. “Our projections didn’t show growth at the elementary schools,” Cardillo explained. However, the middle school enrollment is down from 594 to 577, while at the secondary school enrollment is now 1,022, up slightly from last year’s 1,000. “We will continue to see growth in the next few years, with peaks in years 2016-2017,” Cardillo elaborated.
The biggest change for students will be in class sizes. At the elementary level, K-6, out of 14 possible classes, eleven have increased class sizes. Grades 2, 3, 4 now see class size increases of plus two over Manhasset BOE established guidelines. “The class sizes are larger than what we are accustomed to,” Cardillo said. Classroom guidelines, established by the Manhasset Board of Education, serve as a reference point for establishing appropriate, well-balanced class sizes. Copy of the guidelines are available for residents on the BOE website. “Last year the average mean class size was 21.6; this year it’s 22.6”, Cardillo said. “The baseline has been eroded,” Cardillo was quick to point out, an acknowledgement to a pecarious slope. That said, Cardillo is confident that the district will continue to provide a “superior” education at all the grade levels.
For Zari Ginsburg, a parent of the school district, school safety is a concern. “So I can get a better understanding”, a concerned Ginsburg asked,”Since December we added security guards in the elementary schools, and now we don’t have them [due to budget cuts], so now we have our greeters. Are the greeters specifically trained?” Cardillo was quick to answer “no.” “Realistically, and in working with the 3rd precinct, whether there is a security person in place or not, tragic events, such as in Columbine, are just not stoppable,” Cardillo pointed out.
“We did work with a firm and did an in-depth review of security at all our buildings and provided us with a comprehensive report,” said Rosemary Johnson. “We did a budget revision to put in place significant security hardware upgrades, so all the buildings have the proper upgrades.” Implementation, including proper training of staff on these access systems, is ongoing according to Johnson. Included in this highs-takes security implementation is the migration of security cameras to a new software protocol. “This has been a very intense and expensive effort,” Johnson emphasized. In time, the district will review the roll out of these security measures and make necessary adjustments.
“We will continue to assess [security] during the school year.” an assuring Cardillo said.