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Board Discusses Curriculum Issues, Status of the Sixth Grade Honors Program

The school year is soon coming to a close, but the Glen Cove School District is still working hard to prepare for the next school year. Several curriculum topics were discussed at Monday night’s Board of Education meeting held at Robert M. Finley Middle School, including new courses for next year and the sixth grade honors program, which was implemented last year.

Board President Ida McQuair opened the meeting on a positive note by thanking the district. “Congratulations, Glen Cove, for passing our budget,” she said. “We’ve seen what’s happening in other districts on Long Island…so thank you.”

In new business, the board accepted a grant in the amount of $5,000 from Lowe’s Toolbox for Education for the Discovery Learning Center at Gribbin School and approved several payments, including the final payment in the amount of $42,875 to WEB Construction for the work completed at Landing Elementary School and the first payment to Bain Mechanical Services, Inc in the amount of $11,015.73 for boiler replacement work at Gribbin Elementary School.

Additionally, the board established a Tax Certiorari Reserve Fund by transferring the excess fund balance from the 2010-2011 fiscal year, in an amount not to exceed $1.5 million; approved transfer of the excess fund balance in an amount not to exceed $500,000 to the Workers’ Compensation Reserve Fund, established in 1991; and approved transfer of funds in an amount not to exceed $470,000 for the 2011-2012 school year from the Workers’ Compensation Reserve to General Fund for payment of claims, fees and assessments.

An addendum was made to approve a summer driver’s education course at a cost of $550 to district residents and $625 to non-residents. The motion passed, with Trustee Dave Huggins opposed.

Trustee Joel Sunshine said, “I think we need to discuss this further in the fall, regarding fees…I agree to this for summer only.”

Dr. Shari L. Camhi, assistant superintendent for curriculum, provided the board with an update on the status of the curriculum committee, which met only twice last year due to the weather. She said that the objective of the committee was to continually assess existing programs, look into new courses, make recommendations to the district and move any recommendations forward to the Board for approval. The committee consists of parents, teachers and administrators, and two courses that were approved for the next school year are Entrepreneurship and Financial Algebra.

After she gave her report, several of the trustees requested further information.

“What you gave us is a summary of what happened months ago, in meetings we didn’t even know were taking place,” said Mr. Sunshine. “Minutes should be minutes, containing the full report of what was recommended, what happened…curriculum is arguably the most important thing we should decide on as the Board of Education…why doesn’t this committee have board representation? This report is too general; I’d like to see more specifics, and I would like to see curriculum to be discussed at every meeting.”

Trustee Gail Nedbor-Gross agreed, asking for more information about what has been discussed regarding courses such as social studies and grammar. “More specifics would be nice,” she said.

Dr. Camhi reiterated that the Committee’s role is not to make decisions, but to make recommendations, as outlined by the District Plan.

Superintendent Dr. Joseph A. Laria said that one of his objectives for the next school year is to revisit the District Plan. He said it is appropriate for the Board to want periodic reports on the curriculum.

Dr. Camhi also discussed the sixth grade honors program at the middle school, which was created for the current school year. She went over the criteria for the program and said that the program was very rigorous, but most kids “seemed to step up to the plate.” She said the program is not perfect and still “needs tweaks” and that 22 additional students will be a part of it next year.

Dr. Laria said that when he first took the job here last July, there was a lot of confusion surrounding the program and he wanted to organize a task force to make the program “right.”

The final topic discussed was the creation of a Springboard program, created by the College Board, the goal of which is to ensure students are ready for AP courses by the time they enter 11th grade.

“I believe the content of the Springboard program is very good, but the process…when you want to roll out a new program, it is dead on arrival if the teachers aren’t on board. I am meeting with them this week to see where they stand,” said Dr. Laria.