Trustees of the board of education discussed a wide range of issues during their public meeting Nov. 27 at Schreiber High School.
Major issues such as redistricting consumed most of the school board's three and-a-half hour meeting.
The board is preparing for the 2003 opening of a fifth elementary school. How children will be assigned to those schools has become a major topic. See the separate redistricting story in this issue of the Port Washington News.
Some less controversial points took only moments to discuss.
Included was the passing of a resolution to accept the services of Antico Food Service Designers of Sea Cliff for $16,600. This involves advice about renovation of kitchens in school cafeterias. Board member Cowles noted that, for the same low price, Antico had recently agreed to increase the square footage considered in the design.
The board also passed three separate policies entitled Dangerous Weapons in School, Emergency Response Plan, and Safety & Security.
In addition, the board of education approved two books for grades 11 and 12: Plainsong by Ken Haruf and Bound Feet & Western Dress by Pang-Mei Chang and Ernest J. Gaines.
Superintendent Albert Inserra unveiled a new security measure that will allow reporting of potential security problems by middle and high school students anonymously using an Internet site called Report-It.com. The site is monitored independently, he said.
Dr. Inserra also updated state aid projections, which appeared to look as though that revenue source would fall below expectations, leaving the district with a shortfall about $100,000.
He noted that only about 6 percent of the district's $85 million budget is from state revenue.
Mary Callahan, assistant superintendent for business, said the lowered expectation for funds would probably have to be balanced by diminished equipment purchases, and she expected to speak with school principals to decide where to make the line item cuts.
School Dress Codes also were discussed. Board member Peter Wezenaar said the policy is that students can wear what they want unless it interferes with the education of another student. "It's very subjective," he said.
Wezenaar cited the example of boys whose pants sag, showing the top of their boxer shorts, and girls who expose bare midriff. "How is this played out?" Wezenaar asked.
Superintendent Inserra said the dress code language is open-ended on purpose:
"It's typical (of school districts) and it's not clear. We leave it to the judgment of our faculty and principals."
The school system's top administrator said, "Judgment has been used judiciously when it had to be."
He noted that dress violations are in the eye of the beholder. "Baggy pants may not be noticed by another kid, whereas to a faculty member it may jump out." He said that some school districts went too far defining proper dress, "and we felt it was disruptive."
On the subject of suspension of students, School Board Member Robert Ferro asked for confirmation that punishments for infractions are consistent. Dr. Inserra assured him, "there is consistency."
Dress code infractions appear to be uncommon and Dr. Inserra knew of none this year. Last year there were one or two incidents.
Dr. Sidney Barish, principal of Schreiber High School, said, "You put the responsibility on the kids and the overwhelming majority accept that responsibility and do the right thing."
In addition, the board failed to pass a Request For Proposal for the operation of a tennis facility at Schreiber High School during months not normally used by the school district. Some board members continue to be interested in possible additional uses for the high school's tennis facilities and the issue is expected to be addressed again in the future.