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Letter: A Word From Superintendent Dr. Elaine Kanas

Willets Road Concert

I had the incredible pleasure of attending my first Willets Road Winter Concert last week. It was really quite extraordinary to think that our 11 and 12-year-old students gave such beautiful and disciplined performances. Congratulations to all the students who worked so hard to provide such a special evening. Congratulations must also be given to the Willets Road music teachers, Denise Giuliano, Scott Hoefling and Karen Brandine, whose instructional skill and commitment laid the cornerstone for our students’ achievement. Thank you, of course, to the Willets Road administration, Steve Kimmel and Danielle Gately, all the Willets Road teachers and the parents who continue to support and encourage our students in finding and developing new talents and interests.  And while we are talking about music, last week’s fourth-grade chorus concert was similarly spectacular. Congratulations to music teacher Ed Lattari and his students for a wonderful experience. Again, thanks to Jim Bloomgarden, James Foy, North Side’s staff and all the parents who encourage our students’ artistic passions.

Strategic Plan Update 

Like all school districts, East Williston faces the challenge of continuing to provide an excellent educational program and grow it even further in the context of ever more limited resources. As you know, in order to meet this challenge, our school district is proactively embarking on a Five Year Strategic Plan. The plan will identify district priorities, thereby helping us plan and make choices over the next five years. 

Wheels Are Starting To Turn! 

The Strategic Planning Committee met for the first time on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013.   The committee reviewed the Strategic Planning Process Outline shared at the Jan. 9 Work Session. Members of the committee provided input on various aspects of the plan.  (The complete outline is available on our website > District homepage www.ewsdonline.org > click on District tab > click on About Our District > click on Strategic Planning Initiative in the red navigation bar on the left > find the January 9, 2013 Work Session box and click on the outline.)

So What Are We Doing When?

Phase 1 (November 2012, December 2012, January 2013 and February 2013) General open-ended community input.  This phase is used for the community to provide feedback and ideas regarding current program, as well as ideas for new programs or changes.  The ideas generated here will help determine which topics go into the hugely important Strategic Planning Priority Survey.

Phase 2 (March, 2013) Strategic Planning Priority Survey.  All community members will be invited to participate in a key survey that will specifically list present and possible programs and activities.  At this point you will get the chance to tell us your priorities with simple clicks of the mouse or pencil point.

Phase 3 (April 2013, May 2013 and part of June 2013) The educational team, made up of administrators and teachers, will review the priorities gleaned from the survey.  The team will synthesize the results and create a draft five-year goals plan, taking New York State and district requirements into consideration. The draft plan will be shared with the Strategic Planning Committee.  The Committee provides input and comments and a final draft is completed.

Phase 4 (June 2013, July 2013 and August 2013) The Board of Education reviews draft strategic plan and recommends any revisions. 

Phase 5 (September 2013) The Board of Education votes on the adoption of the East Williston School District’s Five Year Strategic Plan! 

Now About These Surveys…

At this week’s Strategic Planning Committee meeting there was lively discussion whether or not we should shorten Phase 1, the period of general, open-ended community input, and move more quickly into Phase 2, the Strategic Planning Priority Survey. The committee decided on the following plan.  The District will not hold any more community forums specifically on the topic of Strategic Planning. However, at all major district events over the next few weeks, a short open-ended questionnaire will be made available.  The questionnaire will invite the community to comment on the District’s programs, what they would like the district to continue and what they would like the district to add.  People are also invited to send their comments on these two questions to me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .  Of course, comments on any topic, including ideas for strategic planning can always be shared at Board of Education Meetings during the appropriate “Open Time.”

The questions are: What East Williston programs do you find important and want to be sure the District continues? Are there programs East Williston does not presently have, that you would like to see us offer?

I have heard from some people that the open-ended questions are a challenge to complete and that it would be helpful to have some topics listed that people could check off or comment specifically on. Please rest assured that the goal of Phase 1 is simply to give everyone the opportunity to present ideas, which can help us decide on the topics to include in the Strategic Planning Priority Survey.

The Strategic Planning Priority Survey will be organized with listed topics and categories that you can select from. In addition to ideas garnered from the public, the District will of course include current programs and new educational ideas so that you have a full range of choices.  

Do the Strategic Planning Process And 2013-14 Budget Development Intersect?

As explained above, the Strategic Planning Process will be complete when the final Five Year Strategic Plan is presented to the Board of Education for approval and adoption at its September 2013 meeting. Upon its approval, the Five Year Strategic Plan will provide guidance for budgetary decision-making for the 2014-15 school year and beyond.

In the meantime, public involvement and comment during the development of the 2013-14 Budget is still very important. Due to the second year of the tax levy cap and financial mandates over which we have no control, the present year’s fiscal restraints will require us to be flexible and creative in our thinking.  The ideas and priorities being garnered through our Strategic Planning Process, though not yet definitive, may help us all examine and articulate budget priorities, even for this year.    

Saving Money

As we all know, the challenging economic climate makes it imperative that we continue to try to be as creative and efficient in delivering our school programs so that we can maximize every dollar.  In order to do this, the District consistently takes advantage of many opportunities to save money.

These include shared transportation with neighboring school districts, cooperative purchasing ventures and other shared services through BOCES and varying consortiums. We are continually looking at new ways to expand upon these efforts.

For example, in March, our elementary reading teachers and some of our special education co-teachers will be receiving training in a highly regarded, research-based intervention called Leveled Literacy Intervention. The program is designed to make a real difference for our struggling readers.  We have invited other districts to participate in this training and share in the fees for the training, significantly reducing our own district costs. 

Please email me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 333-3782 with any questions, suggestions, and or any topics you would like to see for this newsletter.  

Elaine Kanas

East Williston Superintendent 


News

What Thanksgiving Means In Mineola

Thanksgiving is a holiday, a festival, celebration and food fest. Tradition says the first Thanksgiving feast was celebrated by pilgrims and Native Americans back in 1621 to give thanks for their harvest after a harsh winter. Over a century later, George Washington, the nation’s first president, issued a Thanksgiving proclamation in 1789.

 

Fast forward to 21st century—the modern day Thanksgiving has come a long way since then. What has not changed however is the shared elaborate meal consumed with family and  friends in the same spirit of celebration and giving thanks for the blessings.

Winthrop University Hospital employee Jeffrey Brenner, a hyperbaric technician with the Life Support Technologies group in Mineola, recently received the American Heart Association’s prestigious Louis J. Acampora Heart Saver Award at a dinner at the Crest Hollow Country Club. The award is named for a Long Island teenager who succumbed to a sporting injury that is understood to have been preventable if a cardiac medical device had been immediately on-scene and applied. 

 

“I hope that I have made a real difference in my town and the world around me to help prevent death and improve the quality of people’s lives” said Brenner.


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