The board of education met on Sept. 19 to discuss the activities of its various committees.
Jean-Marie Posner, chair of the budget and finance committee, said the committee wants to amend the process of developing and adopting the budget, giving the community more insight into possible budget revisions and amendments. Mrs. Posner said that by making the project more "top down," as she called it, the community and the board would feel more comfortable and confident in the budget. She mentioned no specific changes to the process.
Mrs. Posner announced that the advisory audit committee is looking for a new member with financial or accounting experience. The committee comprises nine members who report directly to the board on financial and accounting matters. Those with financial experience who are interested in serving should contact Mrs. Posner at JMStarrbart@aol.com.
Nancy Cowles, chair of the community relations committee, discussed the planning of community forums within the coming months. The committee would like to plan four forums, each focused on a specific topic. Proposed topics include curriculum, health and wellness, and financial matters. The committee would like to see a greater utilization of the community's outlook in school board matters.
In district news, enrollment is above the guideline at Manorhaven Elementary School by about 66 students. This could adversely affect gym classes, which are already large. The board discussed adding a new teacher's assistant, which would allow large classes to be broken into groups. Board members said the addition of a new T.A. would be less disruptive and less costly than the addition of an entirely new section.
In other news, the board is advertising for a full-time physical education director to replace Rose Bonanno, who has retired. Superintendent Geoffrey N. Gordon highlighted the accomplishments of seven high school seniors who won the National Merit semifinalist award for their achievements on the national PSAT College Board examination. Dr. Gordon expressed his confidence that Schreiber's seniors will be very successful in college admissions, as in previous years.
In old business, board president Robert Seiden discussed the possibility of having a high school student become a "perfunctory" member of the school board. The board wants to create this position to hear about student life and issues in the district. A selected group of students would take turns attending board meetings. Mr. Seiden said the addition of a student member "would be a positive effort by the board to reach out to the community, as well as help the board make important decisions."
Mr. Seiden would also like to see expanded community-service opportunities for students of all ages . Dr. Gordon noted that nationally, the current trend with community service has been a push toward compulsory community service. In Port, such service is voluntary. The board is considering ways of adding community service to the district curriculum. One idea under discussion is forbidding students to attend the Gambol or graduation party unless they complete a specified amount of community service.
The board is forming an emergency-preparedness committee in response to the resignation of Nassau County's director of emergency preparedness in schools. The board has already received volunteer applications from well-qualified individuals, such as a former Navy Seal and the emergency-management directors from both North Shore and St. Francis hospitals.
In new business, the board discussed changing health-coverage plans for teachers. The current plan, under Empire Insurance, requires that teachers be in the district for only five years to receive coverage for life. Larry Greenstein, among other board members, would like to see this length of service increase.
In community comments, parents of Weber students expressed their frustrations with lunchtime scheduling for eighth-grade students. Eighth-grade parents Pam Goldman and Ann-Marie Kaufman explained that their children are scheduled to eat lunch at 10:30 a.m. and often come home late after playing sports, hungry and feeling sick. They requested that the board allow the children to eat a snack during the day or reschedule their lunch period so they can eat at a more reasonable hour.
Parent Lisa Alpert thanked the board for expanding Schreiber's home economics department by one unit and the social studies department by two units. Mrs. Alpert said she appreciated the board's effort to add courses other than Advanced Placement classes, which have been expanded in recent years. She saw the expansion of the home economics department as a step towards improving the curriculum at Schreiber to serve more than just the honors or AP students.