Written by Margaret Whitely Friday, 25 December 2009 00:00
At the last Herricks School Board meeting, held at the Herricks Middle School, the board took time out from its regular meeting to meet with the students of the Middle School.
Members of the student government were on hand, including president Sachit Singal, vice president Grace Macedo and secretary-treasurer Jillian Clark.
Student government president Singal gave the introduction and thanked the board for taking time to listen to the thoughts of all the students. He then turned the meeting over to activities committee presenter Jillian Clark.
The requests from Clark included: Eighth-grade graduation should continue to be at the Tilles Center.
Longer lunch periods would be preferred, as well as another server on the cold-lunch line, plus she requested that the “grab-and-go” line be open longer every day.
She also requested, on behalf of the students, that in addition to the sports drink vending machine, that a healthy snack vending machine also be included.
Further, she requested to add more intramural choices, such as ultimate Frisbee, gymnastic lessons and badminton.
Her last request, on behalf of the students, was to have a “spirit week” in the spring which would include special days, such as pajama day, a ’50s day and a futuristic day.
Presenting for the Public Relations Committee: Michael Reisman, and his main comment was that it was hard to hear the morning announcements in the new wing, the auditorium and the gym because the speakers have such a low volume.
He also suggested that class representatives report the findings of student government meetings to students in social studies classes. To also continue to make posters to advertise fundraisers, dances and other events to hang in the cafeteria.
He also reported that a food drive that ended on Dec. 22 for the Interfaith Nutrition Network, was very successful.
Grace Macedo reported that the primary fundraiser will continue to be “The Wounded Warriors Project” donations, which helps to offset the expenses to those who have been wounded in the war.
She also said they are also considering a fundraiser for the “Make A Wish Foundation,” care baskets to the needy and other worthy causes.
She also said they will continue to help the Honor Society students with the bake sale during the 3 vs. 3 basketball tournament to raise money for children’s cancer research.
Further, they will assist other clubs in collection of recycling containers, field cleanup day on Earth Day and also help with collecting “Valentines for Vets.”
Tara O’Shea reported on the Dance Committee. She requested, on behalf of the students, that doors be opened to get more fresh air in the gym or fix the roof vents.
She reported that the Halloween Howl and Snow-Out-Blow-Out dances continued to be a great place to meet new friends and to relax with old friends and to possibly win prizes for different contests.
The committee is considering adding a theme to its March Madness Dance. Each grade would be given a decade as listed: sixth grade-‘60s, seventh grade-‘70s and eighth grade-‘80s. Further, there would also be a contest where the grades took part of the gym to decorate as their assigned time period and the students would then attend the dance dressed according to their assigned decade.
The building and grounds report was divided between Sachit Signal and Michael Reisman who each reported on different areas:
• All facilities and areas of the locker rooms (floors, ceiling, lockers, bathrooms, etc.) should either be improved or replaced as they decrease reliability and student privacy (e.g. bathroom toilet needs a proper stall around it.)
• The football and soccer fields need to be crowned, rested, seeded and irrigated.
• The track, at the Middle School, needs to be painted and repaired.
Building Classrooms and Areas
• Certain seats in the auditorium need to be fixed.
• The PA system speakers in the gym, auditorium and classrooms in the new wing are not working well (volume is low or distorted).
• We encourage the addition of more water fountains throughout the building.
• Add a temperature monitoring system in classrooms, keeping warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
• The technology room floors should have a sand paint finish because they tend to get slippery with wood shavings and sawdust.
More benches outside of the front entrance so students can have a seat rather than to wander around when they are waiting to be picked up.
Handrails in the D-wing have become loose.
After the presentation, school board president Richard Buckley thanked the students for attending and for their suggestions.
He said, “Let’s get down to some of the corrections you would like to see. I am happy to report that the gymnasium and the lockers will all be redone this summer. That is part of the bond that we recently passed.
“A lot of the things you mentioned would probably be accomplished by discussing with your principal namely the idea of Spirit Week. In regards to the grounds issues some of that we can take care of and we try to prioritize, since this is such a large district.
“I think a new track will be faster than the one we just rebuilt. That was closed in 1985 and just this year we are renovating it. Again, the real issue is money and finding enough money to then figure out where to put the money that will do the most good.”
Trustee Peter Grisafi added. “Trustee Paul Ehrbar and I have been working with all the organizations that use our fields to see what they can do to better groom our fields. We are also looking for various grants and just recently received a $50,000 grant from New York State Senator Craig Johnson to improve our baseball fields. So we are looking into that.”
Trustee Ehrbar added, “I am very impressed with your collective presentation and a lot of your suggestions can be resolved. He then asked what grades they were in and there were two eighth graders and two seventh graders.
The board resumed its meeting as Herricks Superintendent Dr. Jack Bierwirth reported on a recent meeting he had with New York State Board of Regents member Roger Tilles, who was visiting the Middle School. After hearing a musical piece, played by the Middle School orchestra, Tilles commented that it was on a par with a high school rendition.
Diane McCabe then gave a brief presentation of the Middle School Courtyard, which she explained was the brainchild of student Alex Paresi, who was in the audience.
She said that she worked with Jeanette Baxter and as a result two mini-grants were written, one was the purchase of the pond and after working with folks at Hicks, they were awarded the mini-grants.
She then showed slides of how the project developed and how it looks now at completion.
Food Service Director Ed Kerekes spoke on the healthy lunch program at the school as he follows a program called KAPOW which lists many selections of foods and the listed calories and fats, which is very informative to the students and to the parents.
Prior to a report by Herricks Director of Facilities Jim Brown, Dr. Bierwirth said, “The community approved the bond issue a year and a half ago and it’s painful to explain that once the community approves, it you have to go through the long process of the New York State Education Department reviewing all of the things that are proposed.
“You would think that a boiler is just a boiler, but the education department has to examine every boiler as if they had never seen one before. You can’t get them to look at plans until after the community approves the bond issue. The architect draws up the plans and then you have to sit and wait while the state education department goes through the plans.
“We were racing to get the bids out to get the projects done last summer and we thought that one of the few silver linings of the recession was when we went out to bid we would get very good bids. As it turned out, we received almost no bids and those we did get came in very, very high.
“So, we waited until this fall to go to bid again. We received all of those bids on Dec. 1 and it was worth waiting for, but we do have some decisions to make. All the school principals, Jim Brown, assistant superintendents Helen and Deidre and myself met last week and went through all the options. The plan was to make the presentation tonight and have a discussion and come back and discuss it again in early January. We do have to either accept or reject the bids no later than Jan. 15 so we do have to make a decision by then. So now, Jim will walk us through step-by-step through here.”
Dr. Bierwirth turned the meeting over to Jim Brown who handed out an outline of projects and went over specific recommendations.
Brown said, “We have recommended that we not replace the HVAC blower units in the three elementary school cafetoriums. While they should be done, they can last for a while longer. The total bid cost on those was $316, 775 and we believe that this could be used more productively elsewhere at this time.”
• To do the worst windows first. The window projects are being reviewed now by Brown and the building staff to determine the final priority. Remaining will have to wait for additional funds.
• Roof fascia-Brown says he will try to do it with his own staff.
• Replacement of two boilers but it is believed this should be postponed until additional funding is available.
• Windows - both gyms would be done with the panels as was done in the elementary schools for light and air. Some classrooms and halls would be done but less than ideally desired.
• The two-story panels would be appropriately secured until adequate funding is available to do the job correctly.
• Hall lockers-a few old units remain to be replaced. This will be postponed until additional funding is available.
• Windows…the same as Searingtown School and the roof fascia will also be done in-house and the HVAC will be the same as mentioned previously.
Exterior (front entrance) to be done, if possible, through $150,000 grant from Senator Johnson. The grant has been allocated, but has not been awarded to Herricks.
Same as Denton
Brown ended by saying, “This is not everything we wanted, but it is a huge and exciting step forward.”
The meeting finally ended. The next meeting will be held on Jan. 7 and will be held at the Herricks Community Center, 999 Herricks Road, New Hyde Park.