The 1997-98 school board held its last regular session on June 16. Board member Bob Scheer noted that it was School Board President Candy Rossettie and board member Joe Mirzoeff's last official meeting. Both wished the new board good luck. Mrs. Rossettie also expressed hope that a settlement would be reached in the current teachers' contract that was "respectful of who" the teachers are and "what they do." Addressing the public, she added, "They're truly the backbone of the district."
The next order of business awarded tenure to Assistant Superintendent of Business, Larry Blake, and Guggenheim Principal Linda Creash. Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Al Inserra, described both administrators as "outstanding" professionals.
Board member Richard Sussman and Manorhaven HSA Presidents Cheryl and Michelle Tashman, among others, spoke highly of Mr. Blake. Martha Berry, among others, had high praise for Ms. Creash.
The board voted unanimously to award tenure to Mr. Blake, and six to one in favor of tenure for Ms. Creash. Joe Mirzoeff cast the "no" vote.
In other business, the board awarded the bid for the Manorhaven portable as follows:
* general construction: E.B.C. Contracting, in the amount of $65,000.
* modular classroom: Downing Corporation, in the amount of $122,450.
* electrical: Eldor Contracting, Inc., in the amount of $21,650.
It's anticipated that the portable will be operational by Sept. 28.
Fire Marshal Joe La Rocca gave his annual safety review of the district and reports it "most fire safe."
One teacher from each of the buildings in the district addressed the board imploring its members to settle the teachers' contract in a timely fashion. While all stressed their dedication to teaching and love for the district, they stated the following:
* the staff has been unfairly maligned;
* over the years teaching has become more and more complex and thus more demanding;
* the strength of the district is in its human resources;
* the current offer from the district is an "insult";
* Board of Education has an arrogant attitude toward the teachers and doesn't value the status of the teachers;
* historically, long acrimonious contract negotiations have damaged the "hearts of teachers" and left the community permanently scarred.
Resident Phil Granger echoed these sentiments noting that in most cases the final settlement is usually one that could have been reached in the earlier part of the negotiations. "If the negotiations are ugly and protracted, it's hard to rebuild what was lost, he said, adding, "Be careful how you negotiate."
Resident Stan Ronell expressed concern over the recent violence in schools in Arkansas and Kentucky. He asked if the district is taking any steps to watch certain kids who may be exhibiting violent behavior.
Dr. Inserra replied that the district is taking this potential threat "very seriously," and has its "antennae up." He informed the public that he's met with all the staff and sent letters to every parent. The reality is, he said, "it could happen anywhere."
Jeanne Maestro, spokesperson for the substitute teachers, criticized the board for using "fact-finding" to help settle the substitute teachers contract. "It's time consuming and costly," she said, adding that the district would be better off settling with the subs directly.
Dr. Heimer, who is opposed to the more expensive options presented in the districtwide facilities plan, pointed out that the 1998 budget passed with a slim margin of 10-15 percent. He doesn't foresee the constituency approving a large bond issue.
In terms of building a school at the 19-acre Guggenheim site, he noted:
* thousands of cars would have to drive on the two-lane road into Sands Point;
* the larger school would syphon off enrollment from Daly and Salem, thus diminishing the "neighborhood school" feeling and disaffecting residents who desire this.
* the environmentalists in town consider the open space on the site a "priceless commodity.";
* the merchants and eateries in town would lose some of their lunchtime business.
Lillian Gallo Kane, advocate for using Salem as an elementary school, presented the board with a petition with 829 signatures, noting that signatures are still being obtained. She said, "This petition is a serious thing."
Richard Bram, who strongly opposes building a school on the 19-acre Guggenheim site, said that this "option," which would bring 1,500 older students to the area, would have a "detrimental impact on it. He predicts that the community would be "up-in-arms" if it was built. He noted that the $60 million price tag for the option that includes the high school at Guggenheim is not a "practical way to spend money."