Written by Pete Sheehan, firstname.lastname@example.org Friday, 04 January 2013 00:00
With the Connecticut school shootings fresh in their minds, Oyster Bay-East Norwich school officials discussed security of its schools at their Dec. 18 school board meeting.
School Board President Ann Marie Longo opened the regular meeting at the Oyster Bay High School library with a moment of silence “for all the lives lost” in the Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook School in Newton, CT.
Phyllis Harrington, superintendent of schools for the Oyster Bay-East Norwich Central School District, noted that some parents had expressed concerns about the possibility of similar threats to the schools here. Yet when she discussed the district’s security arrangements, “most people seemed to be comforted.”
“We are doing everything we think we can,” Harrington noted.
In other business, board members listened to a preliminary recommendation by Harrington for creating the post of an additional assistant director for special education.
Harrington also updated the board on efforts to hire a science and technology director. In addition, the board heard a presentation on the results of the survey that the district commissioned of Oyster Bay High School graduates.
During the community comment period, Michael Giardina, a parent, raised questions about the district’s security procedures, asking whether the district has ever consulted security experts to ensure that the best procedures were in place. He remarked that he has raised these issues years ago when he considered running for the school board.
“They are our children,” Giardina said, adding that he fears something similar could happen here.
“This was an isolated incident,” commented Board Vice President Jim Mattel.
Giardina disagreed, stating, “This is happening year after year” in schools around the country.
Harrington said that security procedures are regularly reviewed by a district-wide safety team and that there was an audit by an outside consultant for which “we received flying colors.”
Christopher Van Cott, assistant superintendent for finance and operations, noted that officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security reviewed the district’s procedures. Several board members suggested to Dr. Dennis O’Hara, principal of Oyster Bay High School, that access to the high school be more limited before school hours.
Longo argued that the real issue was not school security procedures, but easy availability of assault weapons.
In other business, Debra Kienke, director of the district’s department for special services, reported on the increasing demands for special education services — both a growing caseload and greater administrative burden — under federal and state regulations.
She noted that the district’s special education services department has been responsible for a wider range — those as young as two-and-half and those as old as 21.
Regulations have also required the district to provide services for students who attend non-public schools, such as St. Dominic’s Elementary School and High School, as well as East Woods School, which are in the district’s geographic boundaries, Kienke said. That includes students who live outside the district. The district can bill the district where the student lives, but that requires more time and paperwork.
Kienke said that the district has about 270 students receiving special education services, which involves hundreds of meetings to review the needs of the students and determine which services are available and best suited for the student.
Thus, Harrington said, it will become necessary to hire an additional assistant director for special services.
Harrington acknowledged the strict budget limits that the district faces, but contended that a way must be found. “We have to rob Peter to pay Paul.”
“What are you robbing from Peter?” Mattel asked.
Harrington replied that the details need to be worked out. “We have to start the discussion.”
“I don’t understand the sudden need,” said board member Maryann Santos. Several board members wondered if an additional administrative assistant to help with paperwork might be sufficient rather than a new assistant director.
Harrington replied that the need is not sudden but has been building for years and the complex nature of the situation involves more than paperwork.
Longo said that the board needs more explanation of the problem. Several board members requested specifics on the cost and where the money would come from. Harrington said that she would work on a more detailed explanation for a future meeting.
During the community comment period, Harriet Dorfman, a parent, argued for consultation with the community, including students, in determining how to restructure special education’s administration — similar to what was done several years ago in restructuring the guidance department.
Friday, 06 December 2013 00:00
It was a cold night for the annual Menorah lighting at the Derby Hall Bandstand last Monday. The event, which is sponsored by the Oyster Bay Civic Association, was well attended though, with Oyster Bay Jewish Center’s Rabbi Marvin Demant leading the crowd in cheerful Chanukah songs.
“Every year we gather at the gazebo to celebrate the miracle of Chanukah,” said Rabbi Demant. “It is actually very special this year because Thanksgiving and Chanukah will overlap for the first time in almost 100 years.”
Thursday, 05 December 2013 00:00
It takes a great deal of organization to run the annual Holiday Sharing Program of CSAC, the Community Social Action Committee. Rows of cardboard boxes were set up on tables in the Parish Hall of First Presbyterian Church on Sunday night, Nov. 24. One hundred sets of boxes, that fit just right at two boxes per family, were in the process of being filled with the makings of Thanksgiving dinners on Monday, Nov. 25. The CSAC Holiday Sharing Program offers food certificates or food baskets to needy families and individuals living in the OB-EN community through community support, in an inter-religious community effort working with local agencies, churches and schools to identify those in need.
Thursday, 05 December 2013 00:00
With grit, determination and all-out teamwork, the Friends Academy Boys Varsity Soccer team completed their quest for a third state soccer championship, defeating a tough Lansing High School, 1-0, in the New York Class C State Championships.
Both teams kept the game at a tight 0-0, until 20 minutes into the second half, when a throw-in from senior Patrick Moodhe (Manhasset) connected with the head of senior Jon Nierenberg (Sands Point) for the game’s only goal.
Thursday, 28 November 2013 00:00
Nicole Giannetti entered her third cross country state meet in her career with one goal in mind: to place in the top 20 and earn an all-state medal. After finishing 38th in 2011 and 26th in 2010, the goal was definitely within her reach.
“She was ranked 25th according to one website, so we knew it was going to be close,” said Coach Kevin Cotter. “After looking at some of the times of her competitors, I told her she could potentially finish in the top 10. If she fell short, at least she would still remain in the top 20 and earn that elusive medal.”