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Sandy Shake-Up Could Cost Band Trip To Florida

Mineola modifies school calendar, shortening February break and puts band trip in jeopardy

The Mineola School District went dark for five days due to the effects of Hurricane Sandy. Even though the blustery winds are long gone, the effects are still prevalent in the village and it’s showed after the administration released its newly revised school calendar.

The Mineola High School Marching Band “Disney’s Magic Music Days in Florida” trip from Feb. 15 to 22 was caught in the storm’s fray and is in jeopardy of being canceled. Some parents have already put non-refundable deposits down for the journey south, with the total cost per student reaching $1,300.

District officials decided to shorten the February vacation week of Feb. 18 to 22. According to District Superintendent Michael Nagler, in order for schools to receive state aid, districts must total 180 days of school.

State aid per day is $20,728, district officials said. Mineola is now on track to have 181 school days providing no weather-related issues force schools to close.

“They would not be allowed to go on a scheduled trip in February,” Nagler said. “There’s no good way to look at this. My experience in this community, we have fewer people leaving in the February break than the March break. But either way it’s going to run into problems.”

Nagler noted it’s not unusual for kids to miss school because of a trip and if no more snow days were used, the district would consider allowing the music trip to occur.

“I think we are going to get snow,” said Nagler. “If we’re trying to make three or four days that week and we say to the 100 kids in our high school ‘you can miss those days anyway,’ it kind of defeats the purpose.”

Nagler stood strong on the notion that the needs of the district exceeds the wants of the few.

“Where we are today, my recommendation would be for the band to not go to Florida,” Nagler said. “I remind the board that the band is an extra-curricular activity and we are in the business of educating children and that maintaining 180 instructional days should be our primary goal and everything after that, we would work as we can.”

Mineola parent Phyllis Badinger, who along with Robin Bischoff and Nagler helped schools upstate after Hurrricane Irene in 2011, felt the idea of canceling the band trip was ill advised. At a recent conference of Long Island school leaders, a straw poll indicated that half of the superintendents are examining the shortened February break, Nagler stated.

“I know a lot of people don’t go away for February break, but not this year,” Badinger said. “Because of the Disney trip, people have already made plans, people have already sent in deposits…I have already sent in deposits. I don’t know what the solution could be. Once you take that away, I don’t know if we’d ever put it back.”

The wrath of Sandy put a dent in the calendar. However, because there were two instructional days in August, with the new configuration the district will only lose one day.

“The marching band is still something to be proud of,” Nagler stated. “It’s a very difficult argument to make that 100 students would outweigh the 2,500 other students that we want to build a calendar for. Perhaps we can take those deposits and apply them to a March trip.”

The trip could also be shortened rather than negated, said Trustee Christine Napolitano.

Sandy took five days away from the district calendar, making the school year 177 days and Mineola High School did not open on Nov. 5. The district was open on Election Day and May 24, 2013 is considered a snow day, making the calendar 179 days.

“When we crafted this calendar, it didn’t matter because we had two days in August, we had already met the 180 [days], so those two days worked for us and we didn’t have to worry about state aid,” Nagler said.

School will be open on Feb. 21, 22 and May 24, which maintains the 180-day state aid requirement. Feb. 19 and 20 would be snow makeup days, however, Nagler said if Mother Nature decides to sprinkle fresh powder between February and March, the district may need to claim March 25 as a snow day.

“There’s no easy solution to revise the calendar, especially in light of hurricane issues and possible snow,” Board President William Hornberger said.

Talks have spurred in the State Education Department with Commissioner John King, who may grant a five-day waiver that schools can attain if it exhausts vacation days.

“The issue for us is the storm happened so early in the school year, there’s no way not to touch a vacation day,” said Nagler. “If it happened later or if we got our 180 [days] and we had a massive storm on April 10, we have no days left to take, then we could apply for the waiver.”

News

In a typical Long Island community packed with houses and backyards, there are a couple of acres of open land of community gardens where people are growing basil and dahlias and roses and cabbages—people like Terry Dunckey of Westbury and Peg Woerner of Great Neck, tending their small plots and helping to promote sustainable and organic practices.

East Meadow Farm, off Merrick Avenue, is owned by Nassau County and operated by Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Nassau County. Previously it was a family-owned farm that was purchased by the county through the Environment Bond Act Program, a $150 million program that called for, among several mandates, the preservation of 400 acres of open space. In 2009, CCE of Nassau was awarded the lease to the land and in January 2012 took possession of the property. East Meadow Farm is a place where we can get the best advice on how to make our gardens grow without harming the earth. Part of the CCE’s original proposal was the establishment of a farmer’s market and, now, the market is open two days a week, a place to purchase organic vegetables and flowers during the growing season.

Drivers—get ready to slow down. Nassau County is currently in the process of installing school zone speed cameras in an effort to enhance safety by encouraging drivers to travel with caution, as well as support law enforcement efforts to crack down on violators and prevent accidents caused by speeding.

Nassau County officials say they’re still investigating locations in the Mineola School District, while leaning towards installing cameras near the North Side or Willets Road schools in the East Williston School District. Cameras could begin operation in September.


Sports

Nobody wants to make excuses, but sometimes when the injury bug hits, it’s impossible to overcome. Mineola Mustangs football head coach Dan Guido, entering his 28th season at helm, knows the injuries were the cause for their first-round defeat at the hands of the West Hempstead Rams last November.

“There was too many injuries on the offensive line last season,” said Guido. “It was supposed to be our strength and it ended up being a weak link by the end of the season.”

Even with those injuries, the Mustangs went 4-4 during the regular season.

The BU15 Mineola Revolution were crowned champions of the Roar at the Shore Tournament 2014 in West Islip on Aug. 10. After dropping the opener 2-0 against North Valley Stream, Mineola bounced back to beat Freeport Premiere 2-1.

The Revolution’s offense exploded in the third game as they beat West Islip 7-0. Mineola’s final game pitted them against Quickstrike FC, which entered the contest without a loss and within a point of winning the tournament.


Calendar

Zoning Meeting

Thursday, Aug. 28

Mineola Village Meeting

Wednesday, Sept. 3

School Board Meeting

Thursday, Sept. 4



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
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