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School Rescheduling In Sandy’s Wake

Board of education discusses schedule changes including getting rid of midterm week and February break to make up for lost time

Days off from school are becoming an increasingly rare commodity for district students in 2013. At the Monday, Dec. 3 Plainview-Old Bethpage Board of Education meeting, the board voted to hold school on Feb. 19-22, originally scheduled as winter break, as well as May 24 and May 28, the days flanking Memorial Day weekend. In total, these changes will return six instructional days to the schedule, the same amount lost to Hurricane Sandy earlier this fall.

However, making up the days by cutting out the President’s Week vacation isn’t the only step the district is taking to add more instructional time to the calendar. POBJFK High School Principle James Murray explained that many districts on Long Island have decided to forego the regular midterm week in January this year, and he believes that POB should follow suit. “It would be my recommendation as well that we be able to try and get back some instructional time, teachers with their students,” said Murray.

The principal explained that Tuesday, Jan. 27 through Friday, Jan. 30 will be rescheduled from midterm week to regular, no-testing classroom instruction time at the high school, although Regents exams scheduled for that period will still be administered. Board members expressed some concern about the lack of midterm grades for certain classes, but Murray assured them that teachers had many other tools available to assess students.

While several parents expressed concern about school days lost to Sandy during the public participation segment, they also pointed out that many children would likely be pulled out of school for vacations that have already been planned, and that some wintry weather in the months to come could throw the whole system into chaos by necessitating additional snow days. While acknowledging the problem, Superintendent Dr. Lorna Lewis recommended taking a wait-and-see approach to snow days. “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” she said.

In other news, the meeting also marked the celebration of this year’s School Board Recognition Week. New York Assemblyman Charles Lavine not only praised the board, but said he was doing so for a colleague as well; Judy Jacobs, a regular visitor to the POB board, could not attend due to a cough.

“Outstanding school districts are a direct reflection of the dedication to excellence of their school boards, their administrators, their teachers, and also their community,” said Lavine. “Communities that value education are our finest communities, not only on Long Island but throughout the nation.”

In addition to the assemblyman, the school board also received gifts and gratitude from the POB Senior Citizens Club, the PTA Council, and the Administrators and Supervisors Association.

It’s also the time of year when district chairpersons roll out proposals for new course offerings. The board discussed adding an interdisciplinary English and Social Studies class as an alternative to 11th-grade AP Social Studies (also eliminating English 11H), an Algebra II and Trigonometry plus lab class, and several foreign language classes. The proposed language classes are ASL III, a sixth-grade Chinese class and 2H classes for both Spanish and French. The board will vote upon all of these course offerings at the next meeting, Dec. 17.

Finally, the district celebrated two transitions: awarding tenure to POBMS English teacher at Lauren Infranca, and celebrating the career of the retiring Jan Schatzberg, who worked in and around the district’s technology department for a remarkable 42 years. Of Infranca, POBMS Principle John McNamara was effusive in his praise, calling her a teacher who brings out the very best in her students. “She certainly has a tremendous passion for reading and writing and instills that in her students each and every day,” he said.

Schatzberg received a unique tribute when district technology director Guy Lodico pulled out an acoustic guitar and performed a country music song in the retiree’s honor, encouraging the audience to sing along. Attendees were happy to sing along with the lyrics to “Old Country Road,” on the projector, and the surprise sing-a-long proved a big hit in the Mattlin Auditorium.

“Now every time somebody retires, they’re going to want a song,” said trustee Angel Cepeda, getting a laugh out of the audience.

The next board of education meeting will be held on Monday, Dec. 17 at Mattlin Middle School.