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Letter: A Word From Superintendent Dr. Elaine Kanas

Willets Road Concert

I had the incredible pleasure of attending my first Willets Road Winter Concert last week. It was really quite extraordinary to think that our 11 and 12-year-old students gave such beautiful and disciplined performances. Congratulations to all the students who worked so hard to provide such a special evening. Congratulations must also be given to the Willets Road music teachers, Denise Giuliano, Scott Hoefling and Karen Brandine, whose instructional skill and commitment laid the cornerstone for our students’ achievement. Thank you, of course, to the Willets Road administration, Steve Kimmel and Danielle Gately, all the Willets Road teachers and the parents who continue to support and encourage our students in finding and developing new talents and interests.  And while we are talking about music, last week’s fourth-grade chorus concert was similarly spectacular. Congratulations to music teacher Ed Lattari and his students for a wonderful experience. Again, thanks to Jim Bloomgarden, James Foy, North Side’s staff and all the parents who encourage our students’ artistic passions.

Strategic Plan Update 

Like all school districts, East Williston faces the challenge of continuing to provide an excellent educational program and grow it even further in the context of ever more limited resources. As you know, in order to meet this challenge, our school district is proactively embarking on a Five Year Strategic Plan. The plan will identify district priorities, thereby helping us plan and make choices over the next five years. 

Wheels Are Starting To Turn! 

The Strategic Planning Committee met for the first time on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013.   The committee reviewed the Strategic Planning Process Outline shared at the Jan. 9 Work Session. Members of the committee provided input on various aspects of the plan.  (The complete outline is available on our website > District homepage www.ewsdonline.org > click on District tab > click on About Our District > click on Strategic Planning Initiative in the red navigation bar on the left > find the January 9, 2013 Work Session box and click on the outline.)

So What Are We Doing When?

Phase 1 (November 2012, December 2012, January 2013 and February 2013) General open-ended community input.  This phase is used for the community to provide feedback and ideas regarding current program, as well as ideas for new programs or changes.  The ideas generated here will help determine which topics go into the hugely important Strategic Planning Priority Survey.

Phase 2 (March, 2013) Strategic Planning Priority Survey.  All community members will be invited to participate in a key survey that will specifically list present and possible programs and activities.  At this point you will get the chance to tell us your priorities with simple clicks of the mouse or pencil point.

Phase 3 (April 2013, May 2013 and part of June 2013) The educational team, made up of administrators and teachers, will review the priorities gleaned from the survey.  The team will synthesize the results and create a draft five-year goals plan, taking New York State and district requirements into consideration. The draft plan will be shared with the Strategic Planning Committee.  The Committee provides input and comments and a final draft is completed.

Phase 4 (June 2013, July 2013 and August 2013) The Board of Education reviews draft strategic plan and recommends any revisions. 

Phase 5 (September 2013) The Board of Education votes on the adoption of the East Williston School District’s Five Year Strategic Plan! 

Now About These Surveys…

At this week’s Strategic Planning Committee meeting there was lively discussion whether or not we should shorten Phase 1, the period of general, open-ended community input, and move more quickly into Phase 2, the Strategic Planning Priority Survey. The committee decided on the following plan.  The District will not hold any more community forums specifically on the topic of Strategic Planning. However, at all major district events over the next few weeks, a short open-ended questionnaire will be made available.  The questionnaire will invite the community to comment on the District’s programs, what they would like the district to continue and what they would like the district to add.  People are also invited to send their comments on these two questions to me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .  Of course, comments on any topic, including ideas for strategic planning can always be shared at Board of Education Meetings during the appropriate “Open Time.”

The questions are: What East Williston programs do you find important and want to be sure the District continues? Are there programs East Williston does not presently have, that you would like to see us offer?

I have heard from some people that the open-ended questions are a challenge to complete and that it would be helpful to have some topics listed that people could check off or comment specifically on. Please rest assured that the goal of Phase 1 is simply to give everyone the opportunity to present ideas, which can help us decide on the topics to include in the Strategic Planning Priority Survey.

The Strategic Planning Priority Survey will be organized with listed topics and categories that you can select from. In addition to ideas garnered from the public, the District will of course include current programs and new educational ideas so that you have a full range of choices.  

Do the Strategic Planning Process And 2013-14 Budget Development Intersect?

As explained above, the Strategic Planning Process will be complete when the final Five Year Strategic Plan is presented to the Board of Education for approval and adoption at its September 2013 meeting. Upon its approval, the Five Year Strategic Plan will provide guidance for budgetary decision-making for the 2014-15 school year and beyond.

In the meantime, public involvement and comment during the development of the 2013-14 Budget is still very important. Due to the second year of the tax levy cap and financial mandates over which we have no control, the present year’s fiscal restraints will require us to be flexible and creative in our thinking.  The ideas and priorities being garnered through our Strategic Planning Process, though not yet definitive, may help us all examine and articulate budget priorities, even for this year.    

Saving Money

As we all know, the challenging economic climate makes it imperative that we continue to try to be as creative and efficient in delivering our school programs so that we can maximize every dollar.  In order to do this, the District consistently takes advantage of many opportunities to save money.

These include shared transportation with neighboring school districts, cooperative purchasing ventures and other shared services through BOCES and varying consortiums. We are continually looking at new ways to expand upon these efforts.

For example, in March, our elementary reading teachers and some of our special education co-teachers will be receiving training in a highly regarded, research-based intervention called Leveled Literacy Intervention. The program is designed to make a real difference for our struggling readers.  We have invited other districts to participate in this training and share in the fees for the training, significantly reducing our own district costs. 

Please email me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 333-3782 with any questions, suggestions, and or any topics you would like to see for this newsletter.  

Elaine Kanas

East Williston Superintendent 


News

Way before Home Depot or Ace Hardware came into existence, there were little mom-and-pop shops like Munder’s True Value on Hillside Avenue in Williston Park. The hardware store, which opened its doors in 1948, is somewhat of a suburban dinosaur having outlasted several other hardware stores in the area.

 

“My father, Charles, opened this store in 1948 after returning home from World War II,” said Bill Munder, who took over the store operation seven years ago. “His parents wanted to know his plans after he returned home from the marines and he decided to open this store on Hillside Avenue.”

The debate over New York State Common Core standards continues, with students from the Mineola School District showing a mild resistance to the exams.

 

According to the New York State Allies for Public Education, Mineola had some of the lowest numbers, with eight students opting out of the English Language Arts test. However, not a single Mineola student missed the math test. In East Williston, the opt out rates were 75 students in ELA and 60 in math.


Sports

The New York Cosmos hosted the Mineola Athletic Association’s Soccer Club recently for its penultimate fall 2014 home game. More than 140 members of the MAA soccer club and their families came out on a chilly October evening to show their love of the game. Twenty-two Mineola boys and girls had the honor of escorting the New York Cosmos and Ottawa Fury players onto the field in the traditional “Walk of Champions.”

 

The Mineola spirit must have inspired the home team, as spectators enjoyed the exciting 2-1 Cosmos victory, with the game-winning goal coming in stoppage time.


As a current member of the Mineola High School Varsity Soccer team, senior, Catherine Cunningham has been dominating the scoring for the Mustangs.  She has 12 goals and two assists in the last seven games. 

 

In her last week of play alone, she amassed six goals in just three games. As a captain for the last two years, Cunningham has been an All-Conference and All-Class player, leading her team to two victories so far this season. 


Calendar

Exercise Class - October 22

International Night - October 23

Village Halloween Party - October 24


Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com