Written by Rachel Shapiro Friday, 05 March 2010 00:00
It was standing room only at the Feb. 24 Board of Education meeting for the Levittown School District as a large group of students were there to show their support for the GC Tech sports fitness course in danger of going to the chopping block.
The last scheduled board meeting on Feb. 10 was canceled due to the snowstorm that hit Long Island. A note on the district’s website said all business from the Feb. 10 cancelled meeting would be forwarded to the agenda for the Feb. 24 meeting. However, Board President Dan Bornstein addressed the gathering, making attendees aware that the meeting was not a business meeting. Bornstein explained that since there were many people there who intended to address issues, he allowed an abbreviated “Public Be Heard” session.
After offering a disclaimer to the attendees that the Board had not yet received the superintendent’s budget proposal and thus would not be able to address most budget issues at that time, Bornstein and Superintendent Dr. Herman Sirois altered the regular meeting schedule and jumped right into the “Public Be Heard” session.
A dozen or so students addressed the Board, handing them letters in support of GC Tech’s sports fitness program and its teacher, Anthony Vidal.
“Mr. Vidal is a great educator, I think that’s not something that’s easy to find,” said Nick, a student. “I’d like to see other students be able to take this course.”
In a later interview with the Levittown Tribune, Bornstein explained that regardless of the 2010/11 budget, the “administration looks at programs continuously and they have to make decisions to offer it or not.” The district looks at enrollment numbers and evaluates its academic value among other factors, he said.
He said that enrollment in the two-year course wasn’t as high as the district had hoped and it wasn’t a course that the state recognizes as a certificate-achieving course.
“Right now, we’re not going to allow any new students to start the program,” Bornstein said. He said that juniors currently enrolled in the first year of the course would be allowed to enroll in the second half for next school year.
Addressing the board, Vidal said, “I know you will make the best decision based on the interests of our students.”
The board also addressed residents’ concerns regarding access to the Division Avenue field after the fire that occurred in January.
They said that the district finished finalizing some arrangements with the construction company that’s reconstructing the damaged portions. It is playable for lacrosse, track and JV baseball, the board announced.
A representative from the Citizens Advisory Committee addressed the board, asking for an extension to their deadline for budget recommendations. Dr. Sirois agreed to extend their deadline to March 10.
At the meeting, the board presented recognition certificates to the PTA executive board and unit co-presidents for their hard work and dedication to students.
Among other issues that were addressed in the public speaking session was the ongoing request to keep the swimming team in the district budget. Deidra O’Mara, a student, addressed the board with a prepared statement, asking them to keep the team. She did not finish, as Dr. Sirois explained the issue would be addressed after the board had a chance to review the budget and most of her questions and concerns would be addressed then.
“There will be an appropriate time,” Sirois said.
Bornstein told the Tribune that the board received the superintendent’s budget after the meeting.
“It’s in its infancy,” he said. “Now we start to digest it.”
The board is set to adopt the budget on March 17.
The board will hold its next regular meeting and budget planning session on March 10 at Levittown Memorial Education Center at 7:30 p.m.