Friday, 31 July 2009 00:00
At the last Herricks School Board meeting newly appointed and newly re-elected school board trustees Paul Ehrbar and Peter Grisafi were sworn into office by Assistant Superintendent for Business, Helen Costigan. Ehrbar is replacing trustee Kevin Dunn, who recently resigned.
At the outset of the meeting, after the swearing in of the two trustees, school board president Richard Buckley said, “We wanted to appoint someone on the board immediately; and since Paul Ehrbar already has had experience having served six years on the board, including being president, we thought he would be the perfect candidate. He will then run for office in the next school board election in May of 2010.”
The next order of business was to vote for a Nassau County Board of Cooperative Educational Services trustee and the board voted for Martin Kaye. Each school board has a vote and the votes will be tallied and the winner announced.
Board president Buckley also announced that the board has to vote for another BOCES trustee and that will be done on Aug. 6. He said, “We will have a very short six minute meeting at 6 p.m. to vote and then the board will adjourn.”
The board then voted to name Paul Ehrbar as the Herricks representative for the BOCES Budget Advisory Committee.
President Buckley announced that the board did have a retreat and they were able to draft out a five-year plan for the district. He said that there would be further discussion on this matter as the year progresses. But he did say that it was a very “fruitful” discussion.
Superintendent Dr. Jack Bierwirth announced that there has been a little delay with the preparation of the track due to the large amount of rain we have had. He said the contractor that has been hired is behind in completing his other projects. He said they will begin work on it by Friday (July 31) but he said he didn’t think that there would be any heavy equipment for a while after that. He pointed out that it’s best to wait until there is no rain in the forecast. He said he has seen tracks laid on wet ground and eventually they start to buckle. He said it will be a tight timeline for Herricks Homecoming.
He also said that when the track is finally laid they will try to encourage community members to run on the outside tracks and so more or less save the other tracks for track meets. He said, “That becomes a huge problem having just a few lanes worn down and you can’t resurface just one lane you have to resurface the entire track and hopefully that will only be after about 10 years.”
Board vice-president Christine Turner wanted to know if there would be a celebration when the track is finally completed. She said, “By rights we should be shooting off fireworks, this is really a big occasion because it’s been such a long time in the works.”
Trustee Ehrbar wanted to know if there would be kind of a ceremony at the first shovel prior to the installation of the track.
Trustee Paul Grisafi, who is a runner, suggested a run of school board trustees to open the track.
Dr. Bierwirth said there were no other projects in the works at this time, except the track. He said they have been working on two other projects, but the bids that have come in are so exorbitant. He added, “We’re not going to go forward on a project when such high prices are involved.”
A member of the audience wanted to know the results of Social Studies tests and Dr. Bierwirth said 96 percent received 2 or better and 74 percent received 3 or better; 186 students took the exam and 32 received a 5; 51 received a 4; 55 received a 3; 40 received a 2 and 8 received a 1.
The same resident said, “I understand that for next year there is a plan to have a regular class; for the 11th grade social studies and an AP (Advanced Placement) class and anyone who takes the exam, no matter what the grade, receives an AP designation on their record.”
Dr. Bierwirth replied, “Actually, it’s a long standing tradition that only students who take an AP exam receive an AP on their records. That is not a requirement by the college board.”
The resident said, “The last question is, and this is what some people were asking me, why not have a special education class, a Regents class and an AP class and I wasn’t exactly sure why not.”
Dr. Bierwirth said, “We haven’t had special education classes in the high school.”
The resident went on, “Then why not a Regents class?”
Dr. Bierwirth said, “Because they are all taking the same Regents class and we have inclusion and all kinds of support systems to back up the students. That’s what we do in science, that’s what we do in world language and that’s what we do in most courses. We have been moving foward slowly as a district. Each year we look through all of the transcripts and I was struck that we really did a disservice in having on a student’s transcript RA because they are taking a Regents course and to send a transcript off to college that implies they didn’t take a course with the same rigor, is really not fair to them.”
The resident continued, “Well, some residents are frustrated that the Science curriculum is changing in that direction.” Bierwirth said, “It was changed several years ago.”
The resident said, “Well, some people wish there was an inclusion Regents chemistry class for the kids who have taken inclusion science in ninth grade and 10th grade and they wanted to have it in 11th grade. There are some people in the class that you just eliminated was the one class that nobody was complaining about and they wish it could still be there.”
Ehrbar wanted to know if there was a big difference in that class than in other classes.
Dr. Bierwirth said, “The classes are a little smaller, but they all have to take the same test.”
The resident went on to complain that she is not happy with the change in the classes and she said that it will not help the students as much as the other classes that had previously been scheduled.”
School board president Buckley said, “Be also assured that these kids will get a lot of extra help in instruction through this process.”
Another parent wanted to know if now the “bar” was being raised in this social studies class and Dr. Bierwirth assured him that it was the same criteria as it has always been, a New York State Regents exam will be given, which is the same exam that all 11th grade social studies Regent students will take.
There was further discussion back and forth between audience members and the board regarding “inclusion” classes and Dr. Bierwirth pointed out that if a student’s IEP classifies them then in whatever class they are in they will receive the additional help they will need.
Buckley said that if there seems to be a problem with the courses and if the students don’t receive the help the parents feel they need, then please contact the board.
The board voted to upgrade the library software in conjunction with the Follett Software Company for a one-time cost of $28,816.29 with an annual cost of $7,449 beginning in year two. This library system will allow students, parents, teachers and librarians to access the Herricks library data base from any computer with Internet access.
The meeting finally ended and the next meeting was set for a very brief meeting on Aug. 6 to vote for a BOCES trustee, and then the next regular Herricks school board meeting will be held on Aug. 13 at which time the tax levy will be set.