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Jericho BOE Celebrates School Board Recognition Week

Board Discusses Opposition to

Nassau County Tax Shift, Class Sizes

On Thursday, Oct.14, despite gusty winds and torrential rain, the Jericho Board of Education meeting drew a large number of parents, students, and teachers alike. 

In recognition of School Board Recognition Week (October 25-29), Nassau County Legislator Judy Jacobs personally thanked the board for all their hard work throughout the year. She expressed pride in representing such an outstanding district and assured the board, “None of us takes for granted what the district does for our children. My hat goes off to you. You make it all work. Thank you on behalf of the county legislature.” 

Student achievement awards were also at the top of the agenda. English teacher Nadine Bouler congratulated Lindsay Lam on receiving the Certificate for Superior Writing from the National Council of Teachers of English. Among the 1,641 participants who entered this rigorous writing contest, Lam was one of only 533 recipients.

Tenth-grader Melanie Waller was recognized as one of 1,000 national winners of the 2010 Scholastic Art Award. Among those winners, Waller was one of only 44 others whose artwork has been selected by the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. Her photograph will be included in a special exhibition at the historic Old Post Office Building in Washington, D.C. for one year.

Guidance counselor Bobbie Becker was recognized as the recipient of the Yale Educator Award. Every year at Yale, matriculating students are given the opportunity to nominate an outstanding teacher or counselor from their high school. Brandon Li, a recent graduate and co-valedictorian of the class of 2010, nominated Becker. Of the 269 nominations, only 30 teachers and 18 counselors were selected to receive this prestigious award. 

Art teacher Jeffrey Schanzer announced that the 2010-2011 Fine Arts Exhibit is now on display in the Jericho Gallery, located in the front lobby by the MS/HS auditorium. All are encouraged to stop by and see the work of Jericho’s many talented art students. The exhibit will be rotating on a monthly basis. 

Student council representatives from the middle school announced that the spelling bee and the book fair will take place on Oct. 22 and Oct. 26-27, respectively. The monthly theme for October is “Courage,” and in recognition of Spanish Heritage Month, students will research four people of Hispanic heritage.

Student council representatives from the high school reported that this year’s Homecoming was a great success. Highlights included the Girls’ Varsity Soccer Game, a parade, a carnival, a float contest (won by the sophomore class), and several lively performances by cheerleaders, the Jayettes Dance Team, and the marching band. Perhaps most noteworthy was the $5,000 that the student council raised for Jericho scholarships.

In the Monthly Report of the Superintendent, Henry L. Grishman noted that the district’s current enrollment is 2,996. Grishman congratulated those students who had been commended for their achievements and also took a moment to thank the staff on Jericho’s school board. “Our staff meets once a week for the betterment of all our children,” he said.  “On behalf of our kids, thank you. We appreciate everything you do, ” said Grishman.

In other news, much discussion centered around the proposed Nassau County tax shift. Grishman warned that the Nassau County Legislature is planning to eliminate the ‘County Guarantee’ at their upcoming budget hearing. As a result, the cost of Nassau County’s assessment errors would be the responsibility of individual school districts, forcing homeowners to pay higher school taxes without adding any educational value.

Grishman also noted that the potential liability in Nassau County is estimated to be $80 million dollars. This means that $2 million could potentially fall on the taxpayers if the tax shift passes, he said. He advised residents to contact County Executive Edward P. Mangano and participate in the “county-wide effort to keep the system in place so that taxes don’t go up.” Community residents were strongly encouraged to attend the Legislative Budget Hearing on Monday, October 18, at 10 a.m. in the County Legislative Chamber in Mineola.

During public participation, a group of concerned parents whose children attend Cantiague Elementary voiced their frustrations regarding increased class sizes and discussed the benefits of class size reduction. President Barbara Krieger reassured, “No one up here disagrees with you, but six additional elementary teachers would be required. And that would require $100,000 per teacher plus benefits. If you can get the community empowered and behind this effort to put it in the budget, we’ll support you.” She emphasized how important it is for parents to attend the budget meetings. Grishman stated that the board will consider ways to mitigate some of the concerns. 

On a different note, two parents from the West Birchwood Civic Association called attention to the nine sex offenders residing in Jericho motels, five of which are Level 3. The law states that sex offenders must live at least 1,000 feet away from schools. Cantiague Elementary is 1,400 feet away from one of the motels, and the neighborhood park is only 500 feet away from it, the parents said. The West Birchwood Civic Association hopes to change the law and increase the distance between where offenders reside and where children spend much of their time. A meeting with several government representatives regarding this issue, including Minority Leader Diane Yatauro, will take place at Cantiague Elementary School on Monday, Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. All Jericho residents were encouraged to attend the meeting.

Fourteen resolutions were put to a vote, all of which passed. Among those resolutions were the opposition to any legislation that supports the Nassau County tax shift, the approval of making board business available online, and the adoption of annual board goals.

The next board meeting will take place in the Jericho Middle School library on Thursday, Nov. 18, at 7:30 p.m.