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Oyster Bay-East Norwich School District Encourages Community Involvement

“We’re ready to hit the ground running instructionally,” said Dr. Harrington at the Sept. 1 board of education meeting commencing her sixth year as superintendent of the district. Teachers, administrators and department heads met on Sept. 1 to discuss a number of topics as prelude to the start of the 2009-2010 school year.

Board President James Robinson expressed concern in wanting to increase public attendance at the BOE workshops. He called it a ”collective effort” and remarked that “the website and e-mail communication helps [to get people to attend]. We do a really good job on a school-by-school basis… I think it’s really important for the parents at Roosevelt and Vernon to understand what’s going on at the high school, not just the three months prior to their kids attending. We have a really small school district. How do we bring this all together? ... It’s not just about attendance. It’s communication.”

Dr. Harrington pointed out that the PTA has also been experiencing problems with lack of attendance at their meetings. The board discussed several ideas for presentations that might appeal to parents, including bringing in recent alumni to speak.

Dr. Harrington brought up other topics to be discussed during the year including the role of support staff, 21st-century schools, high school elective program, update on facilities, social and emotional learning, K-12 science programs, etc. Dr. Harrington also commented that she intends to provide feedback to parents on anything that was cut from the budget. She reiterated that there are no field trips in the district this year and the bus routes have been altered. “Half the people might not realize this,” she said.

 Community members offered ideas to encourage attendance at BOE meetings. Former board member Mrs. Greico and Mrs. Dorfman both suggested involving students more at the meetings in an effort to encourage attendance as well as videotaping and broadcasting the meetings on a public access channel.

Mrs. Dorfman expressed concern regarding the Sept. 13 use of the auditorium and assured the board on behalf of the religious organization, Chabad of Oyster Bay and Jericho, that there would be no fundraising on the premises. Dr. Harrington had previously approved the event in July when it was presented to her as a musical performance. Dr. Harrington said her attention was raised to a potential issue when she received a phone call following a public announcement that the event would include a fundraising portion. Dr. Harrington commented that separation of church and state prevents the religious organization from hosting any kind of fundraiser on school property. Dr. Harrington has allowed Rabbi Shain of the Chabad to go forward with the event under the condition that proceeds should not be accepted by the religious organization.

Dawn Ceronne, head of physical education department, brought up a scheduling conflict which would impact the district’s homecoming game. Dr. Harrington stated that canceling the homecoming game is not an option. The district will continue to work toward a solution in the meantime.