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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

After two terms on the Mineola School Board and six years of service to the district, trustee William Hornberger will not seek re-election in May, he confirmed last week. 

“After six years of volunteering, I believe the district is on solid ground financially and moving in the right direction educationally,” he said. “I think it’s time for other members of the community to bring their ideas and vision to the board of education. It’s time to move onto the next chapter.”

 

Hornberger was first elected to the board in 2008 and re-elected in 2011, serving as board president and vice president in that span. The Williston Park resident oversaw the reconfiguration of the district which included the closing of the Cross Street and Willis

Avenue schools, one of the more challenging times in the district’s history. Those two schools have since been leased out to Solomon Schechter Day School and Harbor Child Care, respectively.

Bank Robbery Suspects Arrested

Nassau County Robbery Squad detectives arrested two men in connection with a bank robbery that occurred on April 7 at 2:17 p.m. in Mineola.


Sports

FC Mineola Wins Two

The BU10 FC Mineola opened league play with 3-0 win over the Hewlett Lawrence Blue Sonic on April 3. Mineola was led by Liam Going (two goals and an assist). The first goal came off a beautiful cross from Liam Russelman that Going sent to the back of the net.  Fifteen minutes later the Liam to Liam connection struck again when Russelman found Going open at the top of the box for another shot and score by the talented Mineola player.

 

Mineola’s final goal came midway through the second half as Gregory Kenney redirected a good cross past the Hewlett goalie. The back line of Peter Murphy, Luke Sommese and Brent Muessig controlled the defensive end of the field limiting the number of shots Hewlett took on goal and the few that made it through were gobbled up by keeper Andrew Pizzardi. Brian Heckelman, Phil Macchietto and James Teadore all contributed with stellar play at the midfield position.

Marissa Cotroneo

Senior Captain Marissa Cotroneo excelled at the Paul Limmer Invitation on Saturday, April 5, held at Mepham High School.  Cotroneo placed first overall in the 1500 meters in one of the most exciting, come from behind victories of the season.


Calendar

Village Meeting - April 16

Zoning Board Meeting - April 17

Egg Hunts and Fun Fairs - April 19


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