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Island Trees Speaks Out

Growing concerns about common core, building sale, shake community

On Wednesday, April 3, members of the Island Trees community came out to have a town hall style discussion with the school board, principals of the schools and Superintendent Dr. Charles Murphy to openly talk about issues that are plaguing the district, as well as answer any questions attendees may have about anything in the school district. 

The hot topic of the night was the possible sale of a district property after BOCES decided not to renew its lease on one of the school buildings. Murphy explained to the group gathered that the Seaford School District was able to sell off one of their vacant buildings and received about $5 million for the property – a savings that will help control costs in the district as well as continue to generate funds for the community. 

“We are looking at all options right now,” Murphy explained. “We are getting the building appraised right now and looking at real estate, but it would go to a vote in this school district so, ultimately the community will decide.” Murphy then went on to explain that the revenue received from the sale of the property would go into the reserves for 10 years. 

 

However, with the sale of a school property came a barrage of questions about how it would affect the community. One concerned resident asked if there was anyone that the district would not sell to. Murphy explained that most likely a property like that would go to apartments or condos and the board wouldn’t be looking to sell to a commercial company, which would be unlikely since the buildings are in the middle of neighborhoods, or low-income housing. Another attendee asked that if the district sold the Stephen Karopczyc building, which is also on the table, what would happen to the library? “We would have to take something like that into consideration,” Murphy said. “We wouldn’t just say ‘go find another building.’ Even the Stephen Karopczyc name is a part of the community and we wouldn’t just throw the name away and forget about it. We would find a place for it somewhere else in the district,” he added. 

 

In addition to the possible sale of a district building, Common Core was brought up again as many parents are beginning to prep for the worst. 

“You go all the way around in a circle to get the same answer you would have gotten if you took a shorter way,” said one parent. 

Penny Fisher, principal of J. Fred Sparke School answered, “They are supposed to be learning the meaning behind the problem so the children have a deeper understanding. The math is so much harder, though, because the students have to decode what the passage says before they can even get to the problem.” 

However, Murphy said that many teachers and administrators don’t agree that this is the right way to go. “I am not sure that [the State] is taking us in the right direction. We are purchasing a new Common Core Math curriculum for next year for grades K-6.”

 

The main concern of the parents is if their children will be getting the help they need to pass the exam as well as if the State cares that this is hurting the school experience as well as the self-esteem of many children. Murphy told those gathered that the State estimated that 60 percent of students would not pass the exam and that he knows that 60 percent of his students are not in need of extra help. 

 

“This test was made to identify the children that need extra help, and we are not going to be having 60 percent of our students getting extra help because not all of them need it. The whole idea is absurd and when we bring it up to the State, they just parrot back the same answers. It’s not good for the kids,” he said. 

 

One positives note on the night was when Dr. Roger Bloom spoke about the iPad program that the fifth graders are currently piloting. “It’s fascinating to see the lessons that the teachers have prepared on the iPads,” he said. “The iPads can synch with our Promethium Boards, which make lessons very interactive for children. Our teachers have received training, attended workshops, and researched the thousands of educational applications available to see which ones are the most sound for our students and really challenge them.”