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OBEN School Board Discusses Shooting, Special Ed

District says security procedures are

regularly reviewed and receive “flying colors”

With the Connecticut school shootings fresh in their minds, Oyster Bay-East Norwich school officials discussed security of its schools at their Dec. 18 school board meeting.

School Board President Ann Marie Longo opened the regular meeting at the Oyster Bay High School library with a moment of silence “for all the lives lost” in the Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook School in Newton, CT.

Phyllis Harrington, superintendent of schools for the Oyster Bay-East Norwich Central School District, noted that some parents had expressed concerns about the possibility of similar threats to the schools here. Yet when she discussed the district’s security arrangements, “most people seemed to be comforted.”

“We are doing everything we think we can,” Harrington noted.

In other business, board members listened to a preliminary recommendation by Harrington for creating the post of an additional assistant director for special education.

Harrington also updated the board on efforts to hire a science and technology director. In addition, the board heard a presentation on the results of the survey that the district commissioned of Oyster Bay High School graduates.

During the community comment period, Michael Giardina, a parent, raised questions about the district’s security procedures, asking whether the district has ever consulted security experts to ensure that the best procedures were in place. He remarked that he has raised these issues years ago when he considered running for the school board.

“They are our children,” Giardina said, adding that he fears something similar could happen here.

“This was an isolated incident,” commented Board Vice President Jim Mattel.

Giardina disagreed, stating, “This is happening year after year” in schools around the country.

Harrington said that security procedures are regularly reviewed by a district-wide safety team and that there was an audit by an outside consultant for which “we received flying colors.”

Christopher Van Cott, assistant superintendent for finance and operations, noted that officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security reviewed the district’s procedures. Several board members suggested to Dr. Dennis O’Hara, principal of Oyster Bay High School, that access to the high school be more limited before school hours.

Longo argued that the real issue was not school security procedures, but easy availability of assault weapons.

In other business, Debra Kienke, director of the district’s department for special services, reported on the increasing demands for special education services — both a growing caseload and greater administrative burden — under federal and state regulations.

 She noted that the district’s special education services department has been responsible for a wider range — those as young as two-and-half and those as old as 21.

Regulations have also required the district to provide services for students who attend non-public schools, such as St. Dominic’s Elementary School and High School, as well as East Woods School, which are in the district’s geographic boundaries, Kienke said. That includes students who live outside the district. The district can bill the district where the student lives, but that requires more time and paperwork.

Kienke said that the district has about 270 students receiving special education services, which involves hundreds of meetings to review the needs of the students and determine which services are available and best suited for the student.

Thus, Harrington said, it will become necessary to hire an additional assistant director for special services.

Harrington acknowledged the strict budget limits that the district faces, but contended that a way must be found. “We have to rob Peter to pay Paul.”

“What are you robbing from Peter?” Mattel asked.

Harrington replied that the details need to be worked out. “We have to start the discussion.”

“I don’t understand the sudden need,” said board member Maryann Santos. Several board members wondered if an additional administrative assistant to help with paperwork might be sufficient rather than a new assistant director.

Harrington replied that the need is not sudden but has been building for years and the complex nature of the situation involves more than paperwork.

Longo said that the board needs more explanation of the problem. Several board members requested specifics on the cost and where the money would come from. Harrington said that she would work on a more detailed explanation for a future meeting.

During the community comment period, Harriet Dorfman, a parent, argued for consultation with the community, including students, in determining how to restructure special education’s administration — similar to what was done several years ago in restructuring the guidance department.

News

Snouder’s Corner Drugstore is up for sale by Laffey Fine Homes. Patrick J. Valente, licensed associate broker said, “I just showed it yesterday morning to an interested buyer.” He said the asking price is $995,000, “just short of a million” and added, “everything’s negotiable today.”

Valente said, “It’s a great building, a town landmark and it does need work. It would be great for retail and maybe offices are a possibility. The heating plant is working and the taxes are a little under $40,000.”

On Saturday, April 5, Bayville Mayor Douglas G. Watson stood at the clock tower on Bayville Road and Ludlum Avenue to announce his bid for re-election, and introduced three trustees running for open spots on the Village Board.

Running along the Taxpayers Party of Bayville, Inc. line, the slate of candidates for trustee includes Kathryn Caulfield, Joseph Peniagua and Gregory Reisiger; each are seeking a four-year term. Watson is seeking re-election to a second four-year term.


Sports

Take nine Friends Academy faculty, almost 250 Upper School students and add in a bunch of criss-crossing yellow and orange dodgeballs and you have the makings of one of the largest Friends Academy fundraisers for the North Shore Sheltering Program in Glen Cove.

On Friday, March 28, the Upper School club W.A.T.C.H. (We Are The Community Helpers) sponsored one of the school’s largest dodgeball tournament ever. Reams of students paid $5 each for the potential honor of taking on the Faculty Team.

“All of the student teams wanted to play the faculty,” said WATCH advisor Judy James. “The event would not have been the same without the teachers. They really motivated the kids to come.”

COPE (Connecting Our Paths Eternally), a grief support organization for parents and families living with the loss of a child, will hold its eighth annual golf outing on May 19, at the Muttontown Club in East Norwich. More than 200 golfers and supporters are expected to attend COPE’s biggest event of the year, which raises 75 percent of the organization’s annual budget. The event brings together individuals, families and organizations to pay tribute to loved ones and honor supporters, and has raised more than $1 million from generous corporate and individual sponsors over the past seven years. For more information about the 2014 COPE Golf Outing, visit www.copefoundation.org.

This year’s COPE event will honor Michael Corpuel and the Corpuel and Brown families from Camp Wayne, the site of COPE-Camp Erin New York City, a free weekend bereavement camp for children and teens ages 6-17. Michael Corpuel is also being honored separately for his unwavering dedication to COPE as a board member and adviser since the non-profit’s inception in 1999.


Calendar

LI Sound Vocal Jazz Ensemble

Saturday, April 19

Annual Egg-stravaganza

Saturday, April 19

Palliative Care

Wednesday, April 23 



Columns

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

Sustainable LI: Getting Good Things Done
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

LI’s ‘Most Prominent Lady In Politics’
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com