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Sandy Shake-Up Could Cost Band Trip To Florida

Mineola modifies school calendar, shortening February break and puts band trip in jeopardy

The Mineola School District went dark for five days due to the effects of Hurricane Sandy. Even though the blustery winds are long gone, the effects are still prevalent in the village and it’s showed after the administration released its newly revised school calendar.

The Mineola High School Marching Band “Disney’s Magic Music Days in Florida” trip from Feb. 15 to 22 was caught in the storm’s fray and is in jeopardy of being canceled. Some parents have already put non-refundable deposits down for the journey south, with the total cost per student reaching $1,300.

District officials decided to shorten the February vacation week of Feb. 18 to 22. According to District Superintendent Michael Nagler, in order for schools to receive state aid, districts must total 180 days of school.

State aid per day is $20,728, district officials said. Mineola is now on track to have 181 school days providing no weather-related issues force schools to close.

“They would not be allowed to go on a scheduled trip in February,” Nagler said. “There’s no good way to look at this. My experience in this community, we have fewer people leaving in the February break than the March break. But either way it’s going to run into problems.”

Nagler noted it’s not unusual for kids to miss school because of a trip and if no more snow days were used, the district would consider allowing the music trip to occur.

“I think we are going to get snow,” said Nagler. “If we’re trying to make three or four days that week and we say to the 100 kids in our high school ‘you can miss those days anyway,’ it kind of defeats the purpose.”

Nagler stood strong on the notion that the needs of the district exceeds the wants of the few.

“Where we are today, my recommendation would be for the band to not go to Florida,” Nagler said. “I remind the board that the band is an extra-curricular activity and we are in the business of educating children and that maintaining 180 instructional days should be our primary goal and everything after that, we would work as we can.”

Mineola parent Phyllis Badinger, who along with Robin Bischoff and Nagler helped schools upstate after Hurrricane Irene in 2011, felt the idea of canceling the band trip was ill advised. At a recent conference of Long Island school leaders, a straw poll indicated that half of the superintendents are examining the shortened February break, Nagler stated.

“I know a lot of people don’t go away for February break, but not this year,” Badinger said. “Because of the Disney trip, people have already made plans, people have already sent in deposits…I have already sent in deposits. I don’t know what the solution could be. Once you take that away, I don’t know if we’d ever put it back.”

The wrath of Sandy put a dent in the calendar. However, because there were two instructional days in August, with the new configuration the district will only lose one day.

“The marching band is still something to be proud of,” Nagler stated. “It’s a very difficult argument to make that 100 students would outweigh the 2,500 other students that we want to build a calendar for. Perhaps we can take those deposits and apply them to a March trip.”

The trip could also be shortened rather than negated, said Trustee Christine Napolitano.

Sandy took five days away from the district calendar, making the school year 177 days and Mineola High School did not open on Nov. 5. The district was open on Election Day and May 24, 2013 is considered a snow day, making the calendar 179 days.

“When we crafted this calendar, it didn’t matter because we had two days in August, we had already met the 180 [days], so those two days worked for us and we didn’t have to worry about state aid,” Nagler said.

School will be open on Feb. 21, 22 and May 24, which maintains the 180-day state aid requirement. Feb. 19 and 20 would be snow makeup days, however, Nagler said if Mother Nature decides to sprinkle fresh powder between February and March, the district may need to claim March 25 as a snow day.

“There’s no easy solution to revise the calendar, especially in light of hurricane issues and possible snow,” Board President William Hornberger said.

Talks have spurred in the State Education Department with Commissioner John King, who may grant a five-day waiver that schools can attain if it exhausts vacation days.

“The issue for us is the storm happened so early in the school year, there’s no way not to touch a vacation day,” said Nagler. “If it happened later or if we got our 180 [days] and we had a massive storm on April 10, we have no days left to take, then we could apply for the waiver.”

News

Senator Jack Martins discussed education, business and drug use among other topics in a an exclusive interview with this newspaper and FiOS 1 News. He’s currently seeking re-election in November, being challenged by Democrat Adam Haber. Pointing to what he called “key legislation,” particularly the tax cap legislation passed in 2011 and prescription drug bill he helped shepherd to enactment, Martins feels New York State is on track to continue fiscal responsibility.

 

“In these last four years, we’ve had four balanced budgets, we’ve cut taxes working together, we have paid off debt, streamlined government, kept spending below 2 percent each one of those years,” Martins said.

A contingent of 80 Mineola runners embarked on their first trek to lower Manhattan last year for the Tunnel To Towers 5K Run through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel toward the World Trade Center site. This year, the United Mavericks, a networking group of local business people that support local charities and causes, are gearing up surpass that number.

Mavericks reps say they’re half way to gathering 1,000 people to run in the event’s 13th year on Saturday, Sept. 28.

 

The run honors a fireman Stephen Siller, who was enjoying a day off planning to play golf before he learned the Twin Towers were hit by two airplanes during the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. He was one of the 343 firefighters who died when the towers collapsed.


Sports

Though it had already hosted the series of lacrosse games during the regular season this past spring, Chaminade High School’s new Gold Star Stadium was officially christened on Saturday, Sept. 6, named in honor of the 56 alumni who had perished during combat.

 

“Tradition holds that when one dies in the service a gold star is given to the family,” said Chaminade President Bro. Thomas Cleary. “Our 56 Gold Star Alumni are honored for their selflessness, courage, and integrity.”

Although the expectations for the 2014 Mineola Mustangs boy’s varsity soccer season may be somewhat measured, the team enters the season with the goal of a berth in the Nassau County playoffs. The team is young and inexperienced but there is light at the end of the tunnel.

 

There is considerable talent on the horizon. There are only four starting seniors and five sophomores on the roster. Four year starting senior forward Daniel Pardo returns (19 goals in three seasons) as does senior standout goalkeeper Andrew Pereira.


Calendar

Town Zoning Meeting - September 17

International Night - September 18

Bereavement Support Group - September 19


Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
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Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
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