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Syosset CSD BOE Holds Annual Reorganization Meeting

New Trustee Sworn in While Residents Question Administration About Budget, Transparency

The July 6 meeting of the Syosset Central School District Board of Education started with a welcome for new trustee Laura Schlesinger, who was sworn into office while her family watched from the audience. After Schlesinger, others recited oaths of office including Dr. Carole G. Hankin (Superintendent), Dr. Marc Herman (board president), April M. Neuendorf (vice president), Francine Benjamin (district clerk) and Sondra Nodiff (district treasurer.)

The reorganizational portion of the meeting also included numerous appointments to legal and accounting positions, and various authorizations and determinations.

In the Superintendent’s Report, Hankin noted that high school graduation exercises for the Class of 2011 were held on Wednesday, June 22 at the Hofstra University Arena. She also shared some statistics on this graduating class with the public: The class was large at 551 members; 98 percent of the class will pursue full-time education, almost 10 percent of the graduating class was accepted into Ivy League schools, and the students received 601 scholarships in the aggregate amount of $28,553,550. In addition, 272 students graduated with honors in one or more subjects, and 26 achieved highest honors.

In Audience to the Public, two residents who had spoken previously at recent meetings took to the podium again. First, Peter Ennis had several suggestions for the board: publish the superintendent’s employment contract on the district website, as Jericho does, “a very useful and important step forward in terms of accountability and transparency,” start publicizing the strategy for next year’s budget as soon as possible, and hold budget workshops treating each component of the budget separately in order to provide the public with the opportunity to ask questions. He also requested that the district website be improved in general.

“The district website is simply not up to the standards that the Syosset community rightly…should accept…it’s far inferior to just about every other prominent district on Long Island, and I just don’t see any reason for it,” said Ennis.

Chris DiFillipo, who last spoke during the May 9 meeting, noted that instead of getting a response from the district to the questions outlined in his May 3 letter, instead he received a letter from the school district’s attorney; “Which I’m sure costs money, and I’m not happy that it cost my money to read this letter telling me that you can’t give me something,” said DiFilippo, going on to note his dissatisfaction with the way his questions had been addressed.

DiFilippo also requested that his comments be added to the record. “I believe that it needs to be recorded in the meeting minutes that people from the community did come up and speak,” he said.

Herman responded that some of DiFilippo’s questions were not answered because they were comments rather than questions, and that one of the biggest questions- concerning reserve funds- had actually been answered as part of a PowerPoint presentation held at the June 6 board of education meeting, which DiFilippo was apparently not present for.

Herman made it clear that he believed the matter to be closed. “What we’re not going to do- I assure you, we’re not going to do this- is spend every meeting having the same questions asked and giving the same answers. So, we have answered your questions, we’ve answered them diligently, we’ve answered them correctly, we answered them in PowerPoint. So, that’s it,” he said. He went on to say that if DiFilippo wanted to call or meet with him, presumably to discuss these issues, that would be “fine.”

In new business, the board voted on 51 items, all of which passed. Some of the resolutions included Appointment of Secondary Assistant Principal, Probationary (Ray Gessner), Appointments to Committee on Special Education, Administrative Service Contracts, and the acceptance of several donations: two iPads, a bench, some plants, and a piano.

The next board of education meeting will be held on Monday, August 15 at 8 p.m. in the South Woods Middle School Auditorium.