Written by Margaret Whitely Friday, 17 July 2009 00:00
At the last Herricks school board meeting, the board reelected Richard Buckley as president and Christine Turner as vice-president and Kevin Dunn resigned as trustee, due to personal reasons, effective July 23 or until a new board member is appointed.
However, in an emergency meeting of the board, on July 7, the board appointed Paul Ehrbar to the school board, a position he held a few years back and in fact was actually president of the board for a few terms. His term of office will start immediately.
The Illustrated News contacted Paul Ehrbar, a longtime Williston Park resident, who said, “I was approached by Rich Buckley, the school board president and after discussion with my wife, Doreen, I agreed to accept. It’s an honor being considered and approved. As I have done in the past, my energies will be directed towards the good of the entire Herricks community.”
After many months, the board awarded the bid of reconstruction of the running track at Herricks High School to the LandTek Group in Amityville for a total of $630,000. LandTek Group is on Educational Data Services bid list. It is hoped that the track will be completed in the very near future.
The board, in the re-organizational portion of the meeting, went through a list of items that were approved such as the reappointment of James Brown as Clerk of the Works, the appointment of Jaspan Schlesignger LP, as general and labor counsel, plus many other appointments, which may be obtained in the superintendent’s office at the community center, 999 Herricks Road, New Hyde Park.
The board then approved the calendar for next year. The meetings will be held at the Herricks Community Center at 7:15 p.m. unless special meetings are noted and then the meeting will begin at 7 p.m.
The meetings are as follows: July 22, Aug. 13, Sept. 3, Sept. 17, Oct. 1, Oct. 15-Searintown, Nov. 5, Board Meets with HTA, Nov. 19-Denton Avenue, Dec. 10-Middle School, Jan. 7, Jan. 21-HS, Feb. 4, Feb. 25, March 4, March 18-Center Street, Apr. 8, April 20-BOES Hearing, May 6-Budget and regular, May 18-Budget vote, May 20, June 3-Regular-recognition of retirees and student reps, June 17-regular.
The board also approved the teacher’s five-year contract with increase increments of 2 percent, 2.5 percent, 2 and three-quarters percent and 3 percent.
A substantial portion of the meeting was centered around the statement of Superintendent Bierwirth regarding the high school curriculum.
Dr. Bierwirth said, “Our goal is very simple, to provide the educational opportunities and support necessary for each and every Herricks student to be as close as possible to reaching their full potential. This applies to every individual educational experience as well as to every student’s cumulative educational program K-12. I believe that everyone shares this goal or something similar to it. Accordingly, I think that any difference we may have concerns strategy not goals.
“The board requested that I make recommendations regarding the high school curriculum. In composing these I have taken into consideration information from all sources from throughout the school year, from recent board meetings, from private conversations and emails during recent weeks and from such data as is available at this point.”
1. Change Grade 11 Social Studies offerings to U.S. History Plus and U.S. History. This would be parallel to Social Studies in Grades 9 and 10 as well as to the structure of course in Science and World Languages. LUS History Plus students would have the option of taking the U.S. History AP test in the same manner as students in Grade 10 World History have the option of taking the World History AP Test.
2. Clearly open the US History Grade 9 Global Studies and Grade 10 Global Studies by removing what may appear to be a formal or informal restriction. Do this as part of a letter to accompany 2009-10 student schedules and then remove restriction from future course catalogs. Leave the decisions to students and parents in consultation with their guidance counselors.
Adjustments to course selections are made every year during the summer after final grades are in and after parents and/or students may have reconsidered their choices during the spring. Any changes this year could be done as part of that process.
3. Eliminate the RA course description. This has been done already in Science, Math, World Language and Social Studies except in Grade 11. The U.S. History change proposed above would eliminate the remaining RA designation in Social Studies immediately. I would recommend that the RA designations in English be eliminated effective, 2010.
The Regents level is the foundation level established by the New York State Board of Regents. All students are expected to cover the Regents course material and take the Regents exam. Furthermore, the RA title has accumulated some negative baggage. Additionally, it may send an unfairly negative picture to colleges to the detriment of a Herricks student.
Any changes in the structure of the English program require appropriate time for the English Department and others to study various options and weigh the pros and cons of each. As with other curriculum changes, this requires time to look at the potential ramifications they may have on different kinds of students and even on individual students. I would ask that strong consideration be given to merging what is currently Grade 11 English RA into Grade 11 Regents.
4. Consider some differentiation in assignments in courses with mixed groups of students either through supplemental assignments or different assignments between those who have decided to take an AP test and those who have decided not to. Staff will determine at what point in the school year this might take place.
5. Consider providing some additional weighting for students in a mixed course for those students who decide not to take the AP test. Such consideration should be taken up by the high school in the same manner as all other weighting issues.
6. Consider adding further reinforcement to various communications to students and parents in Grades 10 and 11 that those students who decide to take the appropriate Social Studies AP exams will receive AP course designation on the high school transcript.
7. Consider allowing students in Global 10 and U.S. History classes to take the AP World or U.S. History exams with some form of appropriate recognition. Such consideration should probably include a minimum course and exam grade.
After Dr. Bierwirth finished reading his written statement, that may be obtained at the administration office at Herricks Community Center, 999 Herricks Road, New Hyde Park, Dr. Bierwirth added, “We are not a school district that tells people what subjects they should take. For the most part I would rely on the guidance counselors to suggest to parents and students what level of course they think is appropriate and then we leave the ultimate decision to the students and their parents and even if a student wanted to they should not be allowed to take advanced courses, according to their counselors, they are not prepared to tackle.
“Further, each department is constantly tracking what makes sense and what doesn’t make sense for the students. In fact, there is another department that has students who have made course selections for next year which they are concerned about and that situation has been turned over to the counselors in that area. We encourage parents and students to talk to their counselors to shape the programs that is best for them. I don’t think there is a single student who has graduated from Herricks High School that has a program that is exactly identical to anyone else in the class, it is that individualized, which is good.
“We will just make sure in all the brochures that if a student takes an AP exam that they get credit for that course in their transcript..”
He then referred to the footnote of the handout which he said was very important externally in New York that states, “It should be noted that Regents course and exams are graded against externally set, i.e. New York State, standards. In light of this, grades in individual districts are not set on a “curve.” Accordingly, there is no formally or informally expected percentage of high, middle or low grades in any single district. Performance is relative to the external standard and thus, theoretically, all students in a given district could achieve very high or very low grades.”
The rather lengthy meeting ended. The next board meeting is set for July 16 which is a regular meeting to be held at 7:30 p.m. at the Community Center,