Friday, 29 March 2013 00:00
It’s been 9 months since the Westbury School District had a permanent superintendent. When Dr. Constance Clark-Snead left, board president Rodney Caines expected to find a replacement quickly.
“What really was incorporated in the time was debating and trying to decide whether to do an internal search or utilizing a search firm. That lended itself to quite a bit of conversation. It took a while for the board to come to an agreement on that,” Caines said.
The board eventually decided to go with an outside company for the search. Caines said that it would be hard for board members to dedicate personal time to the search process. Caines is also hoping it will make the community more confident in the process.
“We’ve had situations where people thought the board wasn’t transparent or cohesive. I don’t believe that’s true. What we wanted to do by having the search firm was have an organization that has a system in place they can use. It closes the door to the seven board members picking what that system would be,” Caines said. “We felt it would give a certain level of confidence to the community that shows we want to do this the right way.”
However, Westbury residents are frustrated.
“We have three more months to go in the school year. I would like to know, and I think our community would like to know, what plans the school board has to bring us permanent administrators for the next school year,” resident Dr. Betty Hylton said during a recent board meeting.
Hylton expressed irritation over the fact that the roles of superintendent, assistant superintendent, and director of ESL/Bilingual/Dual Language Adult Basic Education, have been filled with interim administrators for the past school year.
“I think the community needs to recognize that this could take another whole school year,” Hylton said. “2013-14 needs to have goals and purposes. We need to know what the plans are for the school.”
The school board has just recently hired search firm Hazard, Young, Attea to help in the search for superintendent and contract negotiations are still underway. Once the contract is approved, the board will have a two hour meeting with the firm to construct a calendar, which will then be distributed to the community. Faculty and community members will then attend sessions, where the ideal characteristics of the new superintendent will be identified and then Hazard, Young, Attea will go about finding someone with these traits. The whole process will cost the district $25,000, which is coming out of the current budget. Caines believes that it can find the district a new superintendent by July, however, that will still leave two interim positions.
“Then we work with the superintendent to find the best fit for the remaining positions,” Caines said.
However, Caines says that he is fully confident in the interim administrators.
“We don’t feel like we’re in a bad place not having permanents. We’re working toward having those positions permanently filled, but the one thing about Westbury is that the staff is well trained, there’s a lot of talent in our staff. We’ve lost those positions but the people filling those positions are doing an outstanding job,” Caines said.
Also at the meeting, the Board approved Community Vacation Camp’s request to use facilities at Powells Lane and Westbury Middle School for their summer camp in July. According to Monique Harvey, a volunteer at the camp, the non-profit vacation organization seeks to make sure students are not idly at home, but are instead engaging in fun activities such as swimming, bowling and trips. At a past meeting, Trustee Laura Pierce had questioned what exactly the camp does, but Harvey assured the board that they staff of volunteers are just looking to give back to the community. Harvey also pointed out that the camp costs kids $225 for the entire month, which includes lunch, while other camps such as Camps R’ Us and Hofstra’s summer camp for kids cost in the thousands.
“I don’t know where you would find any camp of our quality that would provide the same activities for that amount,” Harvey said.
Pierce expressed her thanks that Harvey and fellow volunteer Laura Caines-Giralde had come out to address concerns.
“I think it’s important for all organizations to understand that when we are able to give space freely, we need to be able to show the public information regarding the organization and what you’re doing. It’s nice to get this information so that the public doesn’t feel that we’re partial to one organization over the other,” Pierce said.
Board of Education Nominating Petitions can be picked up at the Superintendent’s Office, Tuesday to Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. or the District Clerk’s Office Monday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The public budget hearing is May 7 at the High School Little Theater and the budget vote will take place May 21.