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Syosset Board of Education Passes Agreement With Teachers Association

Filed unobtrusively with the other resolutions on the agenda at the Syosset Board of Education meeting on Feb. 14 were three resolutions of great significance to many in the community: agreements with the Syosset Teacher’s Association, Syosset Principals Association, and the Syosset Administrative Assistants Association Unit to forego the 2.75 percent raises for next year that are due these district employees under contract. While the agreement with the Syosset Teacher’s Association had been revealed several weeks ago (the STA voted to forego their raises on Jan. 20), the other two agreements were new.

Also, though not voted upon at the board meeting, board president Dr. Marc Herman also revealed that Superintendent Carole G. Hankin and her cabinet have opted not to take their scheduled raises as well; he further noted that it was Hankin who initiated the idea of giving up her raise.

“We thank all the employees who work together for the benefit of our children,” said Herman, to thunderous applause from the parents and grandparents at South Woods Middle School. While teacher and administrative salaries remain a contentious topic in Nassau County, the fact that district employees are choosing to opt out of raises in order to save taxpayers money may make voting for this year’s budget more palatable for those who have had concerns about the girth of the school budget in years past.

Budget concerns aside, it was an interesting evening for the board of education, featuring what is perhaps the pinnacle of high school achievement in the sciences- Intel Talent Search Semi-Finalists- and a glimpse of those at the very beginning of their educational career: kindergartners celebrating their first 100 days of school.

In the treasurer’s report, the cash-on-hand value for the month ending Dec. 31, 2010 is $59,737,204.89.

In Superintendent’s announcements, Hankin reminded residents that kindergarten registration will be held on March 1 and 2. She also announced that the nine 2011 National Merit Scholarship semi-finalists were named finalists: Daniel B. Bach, Eric A. Collet, Daniel H. Kim, Katherine Kuang, Clarissa C. Li, Belinda Y. Wang, Harris J. Weber, Catherine M. Ye, and Sumayya Younus.

In board news, Herman announced that the board had attended the Cerro Wire Meeting, the Nassau-Suffolk School Board’s Association Dinner Conference, the BOCES budget meeting, the Syosset High School PTSA Meeting, the H.B. Thompson Staff Recognition Dinner, and the Reflections Reception. Herman congratulated all of the students who entered the annual Reflections contest, and all of the winners.

The first presentation of the night was dedicated to the district’s four Intel Science Talent Search semi-finalists, who gave brief summaries of their projects to the board and community. Acting Principal Dr. Giovanni Durante introduced research facilitator Angela Lukaszewski, and the four Intel Semi-finalists: Gary Rosenblatt, Karan Sikka, Harris Weber and Deanna Zhu. Rosenblatt studied economic indicators as stock market gauges, Sikka studied increasing the power output of hydrogen fuel cells, Weber studied P2X receptors, and Zhu studied the assembly and activation of the human apoptosome; all four presentations were sufficiently advanced to the point of being borderline-incomprehensible to many present at the meeting (though no one seemed to mind.)

The second presentation featured kindergartners from all over the district, who explained creative projects they had made in commemoration of their first 100 days of school. While not all of the students could reach the microphones, they enthusiastically displayed their projects, while many proud parents captured the moment on camera. The children also sang a song about the milestone, to the tune of I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.

During the audience to the public, Herman provided answers to a question asked last meeting about when the district receives most of its revenue, and when payments are made. The board president explained that the district used to receive tax money from the Town of Oyster Bay starting in October, but this year, due to the difficult fiscal environment, the first payment was instead received in November, a trend they expect to continue. He also noted that debt service payments are due on June 15, July 15, Dec. 15, and Jan. 15, while proceeds from TANS (tax anticipation notes) are typically received in July.

Syosset resident Frederick Gana, a frequent school board meeting attendee, suggested that the district make the continuing education catalogue more cost-effective. Hankin was receptive to this suggestion, pointing out that the district had stopped distributing the course catalog last year in order to save money, but had brought it back this year after complaints from the community- especially from senior citizens who were not comfortable looking up the course schedules on the Internet. Gana also stressed the importance of finding budget solutions, suggesting that perhaps the students come up with ideas. “We have to look to ourselves for solutions,” said Gana.

The board also presented a Partner in Education Certificate to Susan Parker, president of the Syosset Council of PTAs, and the executive board of the council.

Other than the notable contract agreements mentioned above, other resolutions passed that evening included the approval of the revised 2011/2012 school calendar, and the acceptance of a donation to the district of a record-keeping board with an inspirational plaque from the Syosset High School swim team.

The next board of education meeting will take place on March 7 at 8 p.m. in the South Woods Middle School Auditorium.