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FHS Neighboring Residents Report Growing Nuisances

District prepares for final budget reading for May 15 vote

At the May 2 Farmingdale School Board of Trustees public board meeting at Howitt Middle School, Superintendent of Schools Dr. John Lorentz shared with the audience of about 34 people, the success that he and Superintendent of Business and Finance Paul Defendini have had over the last couple of weeks during their visits to many of the community groups. They gave comprehensive budget presentations to as many community groups as possible, delivering the details of this year’s proposed 2012-13 budget.

Lorentz thanked the three seniors groups that he had given budget presentations to within the past week, saying, “We’ve developed a relationship with them, such that they really understand our budget concerns and they are generally a supportive group.”

The superintendent opened a discussion about the elementary schools’ math program, by InFocus, based on the Singapore Math Method, for grades kindergarten through second.

Dr. Joan Ripley, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, gave an explanation of the program that will be incorporated into the students’ math lessons. The program builds the math learning foundation from concrete methods to abstract methods, showing students a “recipe” for learning math theories. For kindergarteners it could include counting something the students are physically holding in their hands, like three pencils, or nine coins. Then the students would learn how to use the number’s symbol (3, 10, 14, etc.) as an abstract way of counting.

Ripley said the students who usually understand a formula for math, may not know why initially, but they can complete the process to achieve an answer. Conversely, she said, “The students that struggle with the steps and don’t know why [might] end up not lining the numbers up properly, or carrying numbers incorrectly, or coming up with answers that don’t make sense because they don’t have a strong understanding of what they are actually doing.” She said elementary school math is not difficult math; the program is just a different approach to teaching the concepts.

Ripley said the district has been preparing its website to offer more support to parents, for them to be able to understand the methods and concepts being taught in the classroom, and then be able to continue with the lesson when helping students with homework.

Lorentz said the district’s website will be of much more use to parents, students and the community soon.  The estimated availability of the district’s upgraded website should be around July 1. “We’ve always had lots of information on our website, but it hasn’t always been easy to navigate.” That was the push to redesign and expand the capabilities of the website. Lorentz said the new website will offer more video, instructional aspects, information from budget workshops, etc.

During the pubic participation portion of the meeting, nine residents who live adjacent to Farmingdale High School, on Woodward Parkway, 10th and 11th avenues, took to the microphone to let the school board and administration know of the growing nuisances they endure, at all hours of the day and night, every day of the week.

One resident of Woodward Parkway cited a list of issues that seem to have been growing over the last three years, specifically, since the school changed its parking and traffic routes around the high school. “Speeding, blowing through the stop signs, this is all day long, it’s constant,” he said, adding that the neighboring residents have “hit their plateau with the issues, related directly to the students that go to Farmingdale High School.” He said his issue is not with the changes made, that they park throughout the neighborhood, it’s with “their atrocious behavior and conduct.” He, and residents have called 911 numerous times. He asked why the football field, “the holy grail,” has more lighting than any other location on the school property, like the parking lots.

Another resident, who lives on 11th Avenue, spoke publicly, saying she has witnessed students smoking marijuana prior to walking into the high school before school started. She also asked the board to consider installing the same privacy fence for the 11th Avenue homes, similar to the fence installed between the school property and the homes on 10th Avenue. She said she has asked the school to do this before and was told it was not in the budget. Lorentz assured that the request would be reviewed.

One resident asked for the gates to be locked daily. Another resident asked for security to be increased, to consider finding room in the budget to add a security shift. Some residents have taken video, photos, dialed 911, and met with police officers regularly. Residents told of excessive garbage, broken windows, vandalism and students “trolling” parked cars looking for open vehicles to steal from.

School trustee Kathy Lively thanked residents for attending, for sharing their comments, saying, “Your concerns are being heard.” Superintendent Lorentz assured that the district would work with the schools’ neighbors, including police and security, for solutions to the issues.  

The final legal public reading of the proposed budget was held on Tuesday, May 8. The budget vote is on Tuesday, May 15. A special meeting will be held on Wednesday, May 23 at 7 p.m. in the Farmingdale High School auditorium. The regular board meeting will be held on Wednesday, June 6 at 8 p.m. at Howitt Middle School on Van Cott Avenue. For a full schedule to meetings, agenda items and district information, visit www. farmingdaleschools.org.