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Contract Extension Approved for Westbury’s Dr. Clark-Snead

Superintendent Discusses District’s Future, District’s Financial Burden in Mangano Proposal

The Oct. 21 Westbury School Board meeting was attended by Village of Westbury Mayor Peter Cavallaro and fellow trustees, who commended the members of the Westbury School Board and Superintendent Dr. Constance Clark-Snead, who was further extolled for her work with a contract extension through June 30, 2012.

“She has set a plan in motion, she has a strategic plan for the district, and it means that she’s able to continue and finish the job that she started. At least I view, and I can speak for myself, this as the right thing to do for the kids of this community and this school system,” said School Board President Dr. Pless Dickerson.

As for a modified salary for the superintendent, Dickerson dismissed the notion, saying, “The board has not discussed any increase with Dr. Clark.”

The superintendent explained some of the current challenges facing the district and also reiterated the confidence in the staff working alongside her.

“Based on what I’ve done since I’ve been here, based on the school board, some right decisions have been made. It’s going to be tough but I think we really have a group of people that really cares about the kids. Certainly I can’t say enough about the people in the district,” said Dr. Clark-Snead.”

“I have over the years brought in some top-notch reformers from across the country and so this year we’re focusing on best practices. We’re doing some good things,” she added.

In regard to the recent proposal by Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano to turn the high expense of tax refunds due property owners - due to county assessment errors - over to the school districts, Dickerson and Clark-Snead had plenty to say.

“I think it’s going to put all districts in Nassau County at a severe disadvantage financially. It means even though he’s trying to say that the school district should make up whatever portion that is has to refund, it simply means that the school districts are going to have to budget for that in the future, and that means increased taxes,” Dickerson said, adding, “So, how do you say you’re just shifting the burden from the county to the school districts? It doesn’t seem fair.”

Clark-Snead explained that if Mangano’s proposal is passed, it would directly affect the school’s budget, which earlier this year, wasn’t passed on its initial vote.

“It’s going to be an additional cost we have to factor into the budget. Already our budget was cut tremendously and we aren’t really sure how much state aid we’re going to get. I think with this additional tax and then of course with the one percent on the water meter, that’s an additional $100,000-plus cost to us,” said the superintendent.

Furthermore, Clark-Snead said the tax increase would pose “major challenges for the district.”

As the 2010-2011 school year is now a shade under two months passed, Dr. Clark-Snead said the district will make a presentation in November regarding the implementation of its new program to increase test scores.

“We developed a strategic plan last year and it was submitted to the board and they approved. Of course then the cut scores came, but you don’t throw that strategic plan out of the window. What you do is develop what I consider to be a separate plan for the improvement of those scores and that will be factored in to our overall work,” said Clark-Snead.

Dickerson agreed with the superintendent and also highlighted the importance of putting the education of the children as a priority.

“I think we’re really just getting our feet wet and we are in the process of starting to roll our sleeves up more and more to look at programs. Dr. Clark will be giving her strategic plan as well as giving her plan on how to deal with the cut scores and the cut points. The politics, let’s move it aside and do what we’re here to do, and that is to work on behalf of the children in this community and in this school district,” said Dickerson.

Mayor Cavallaro made note of the board’s somewhat tumultuous summer, but shared similar sentiments with Dickerson.

“While the village and the schools are separate and have their own governance structure, I thought it was important to be here tonight, particularly given the events of the past few months, to recognize the members of the school board,” said Cavallaro.

“Whether you like individual members of the board or not, or agree with them or not, it is important to recognize that they choose to serve the community, to put themselves out there, for no compensation and try to do what they think is right for the community and the children of the district,” Cavallaro added.

Despite the board not seeing eye-to-eye in recent months, Cavallaro noted that their level of dedication and commitment was never in question.

“Despite the difficulties of the past few months, I would like to acknowledge their commitment of time and energies to the residents and kids of the district. I would take this as an opportunity to ask them tonight to re-commit themselves to working in the best interest of the district and especially the children of the district,” said Cavallaro.

“And, I would ask the community to work with the school board, with goodwill, to help them do what needs to be done to make the Westbury schools better. So, this is not a political statement of any sorts; my being here with Steve Corte and Beaumont Jefferson is just our way of showing appreciation, in a little way, for the time and commitment of the members of the board,” said Cavallaro.