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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

The Wheatley School recently hosted an Item Writing Workshop for more than 100 language teachers representing districts across New York State.  The workshop was sponsored by the Foreign Language Association of Chairpersons and Supervisors (FLACS), the professional organization that has assumed responsibility for the creation and administration of the FLACS

Checkpoint A and B Exams (formerly the NYS Second Language Proficiency and Regents Exams).

Last year, the Mineola Fire Department initiated an Adopt-A-Hydrant program to offer residents and businesses an opportunity to enhance their fire protection by providing a simple service to the village, caring for a fire hydrant. The MFD is looking for adopters once again.


Sports

After consecutive seasons of finishing runner-up in the men’s golf Player of the Year for the Skyline Conference, Christian Bleck of St. Joseph’s took home first place in a rather unlikely turn of events. 

 

After a herniated disc caused the Chaminade High School alum to miss every event after the first week of the season until the conference tournament, Bleck returned—without even having the luxury of practicing a full 18 holes—and competed with the best players the conference has to offer. 

Cross-Country Crowned Champs

The Mineola Mustang boys cross-country team won the division 4A championship recently at Bethpage State Park.  This is the first championship for the program since 1974, ending a 40-year championship drought. 

 

Mineola defeated Seaford, who also entered the undefeated in division competition, 38-20.  Overcoming rain and high winds throughout the race, many Mustangs ran personal records for the 5K in route to the victory.


Calendar

Mineola School Meeting - November 20

Fools Rush In - November 21

Mustangs Face Roosevelt - November 22 


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
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com