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GC BOE Renames Mini Center, Discusses Staff Accountability Policy

The Glen Cove Board of Education met on Monday night to discuss such issues as new hires in the district, the approval of school trips for middle school students and a new policy regarding staff accountability. The meeting, which began 20 minutes behind schedule, got off to a rather negative start as community members expressed their impatience.

“It’s rude to start the meeting so late, when we all made an effort to be here on time,” one Glen Cove resident said to the board.

While the comment was initially acknowledged with several nods, Trustee Joel Sunshine later made a point of apologizing and said, “We will focus on starting on time in the future.”

The first action of business pertained to the renaming of the Middle School Mini Center to the Carl LaPointe Mini Center. Superintendent Dr. Laurence Aronstein explained the process of renaming the Mini Center, saying that it first required a signed petition, followed by public notices placed in the newspaper and on the website to invite comment from community members. He said that they received 20 letters of support for renaming the Mini Center in Carl LaPointe’s honor.

Several board members indicated their pleasure in being a part of the renaming process, a process that, Mr. Sunshine stressed, the board takes “very seriously.”

“I’ve known and loved Carl for many years,” Trustee Richard Tortorici said. He said it was an honor for him to approve the name change.

“We were touched by all of the letters,” Board President Ida McQuair added.

All were in favor of renaming the Mini Center, and Dr. Aronstein said the official change would be honored with a plaque and a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The next item on the agenda was regarding the first reading of a new Glen Cove Public School policy regarding staff accountability. The policy will require all staff members to follow a set of procedures for signing in and out of the facilities. Dr. Aronstein acknowledged that use of a sign-in sheet was “cumbersome” and said that they are looking into electronic means of signing in and out, which could include computerized devices that read fingerprints. For now, however, Ms. McQuair noted that this is a “step in the right direction.”

The board stressed that the policy is for all public school employees – including administrators – and not simply a form of Big Brother to keep watch over staff, but that there is a real safety element involved.

“In light of the Yale incident, we feel it helps to know where the staff is, for security and safety reasons,” said Mr. Sunshine.

It was pointed out by a community member that mandatory sign-ins may be subject to collective bargaining, and that the board should have the policy looked at by a lawyer. Dr. Aronstein said that he was aware of the issue and would be looking into it further before it goes into effect.

Other items discussed included the appointment of a new kindergarten teacher at Deasy School and the near-completion of the Thayer House boiler, the reconstruction of which should be finished within a week. Additionally, the superintendent made of a point of mentioning the final audit report from the New York State Comptroller has been received, and that the report was favorable. He said he received the opinion of an external auditor who said that other districts would be happy to find such a good report. The full report is now available on the district website.

With the flu season soon upon us, and the potential danger of the H1N1 virus, the school board is exploring several options for vaccinations in the area. Though nothing has been decided just yet, one option Dr. Aronstein said he is looking into is having the inoculations administered by school doctors and nurses. He said the earliest the vaccinations will be available in Glen Cove is November or December, so there is time to figure out a procedure.

As the board members opened the meeting to public comments, a particularly concerned citizen expressed her outrage at an incident at Saturday’s football game involving confusion on emergency procedures. An injured player needed an ambulance, and due to construction, the vehicle could not access the field. Although the student is now okay, the issue is a major safety concern.

“It was a joke, I was embarrassed,” the woman said to the board. “We looked stupid.”

While Assistant to the Superintendent for Business Kevin Wurtz responded that they are still working on access through the gates, the possibility of having EMS on site at all games until the issue is resolved was discussed.

“We are all very upset about this, and it will never happen again,” Ms. McQuair assured everyone.