Written by Cory Twibell Friday, 27 August 2010 00:00
Although only a planning meeting without votes being cast, the Aug. 19 Westbury Board of Education meeting marked the first time in a while where a full board was assembled in the same room – a possible return to normalcy after an eventful summer.
All seven members of the board were present at the meeting, as were about 30 members of the community.
The meeting offered board members a chance to seek clarification on any resolution set for the Aug. 26 meeting, while the public was given a chance to observe the dynamics of the new board and preview several items on the agenda for the upcoming academic year.
Superintendent Dr. Constance Clark-Snead and Assistant Superintendents Dr. Marjorie Toran and Mary Lagnado offered their explanations on questions from the trustees, which ranged from allocated monies through the Federal Government’s Foundation Aid program to adding more to the special needs program in the district.
According to Dr. Clark-Snead, the Federal Government provided New York State with $607 million to distribute throughout its schools.
“Monies will be forthcoming to the district under the foundation aid based on enrollment and several other factors,” said Dr. Clark-Snead.
The district is also considering implementing a program for autistic children, according to Dr. Clark-Snead, which would start at the early childhood level and phase in programs as the years go on.
“When you add classroom space, you must add additional space for special needs children,” said Dr. Toran, adding, “We anticipate being able to open up classrooms for special needs children … the creation of additional classes should help us greatly in that regard.”
“Ideally you have to project how much space you need to adequately meet a student’s needs over time,” said Dr. Toran.
Dr. Clark-Snead also noted that the new classrooms under the Excel Grant will be ready by October.
“The original intent of those new classrooms involved kids being moved off stage and have teachers with regular classrooms,” Dr. Clark-Snead said, adding, “It’s far more cost effective if we floated a bond to just add new classrooms – rates are low, construction costs are low and it’s the ideal time to add classrooms.”
The district has also been “looking at the feasibility of bringing our Wantagh pre-K kids back and moving kindergarten up to Park [Avenue] and moving the rest of the pre-K into Dryden,” said Dr. Clark-Snead.
“For little children to get settled and to pick them up and move them, it’s not a good thing to do … leave them at Wantagh and once buildings get ready then we can look at a transition to get kids back in the district as of 2011,” said Dr. Clark-Snead.
Dr. Clark-Snead explained that the plan wouldn’t be optimal because if children were moved without adding space, the Park Avenue School would enroll over 800 kids, but, “Certainly we want to bring our children back,” she said.