Written by Pete Sheehan, firstname.lastname@example.org Friday, 04 January 2013 00:00
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.
Saturday, 08 June 2013 00:00
The final 2013 lecture in the John A. Gable series was somewhat different from past lectures. The May 16 lecture showcased Xiomaro’s (pronounced SEE-oh-MAH-ro) wonderful and inspiring “How I love Sagamore Hill” photo collection. Commissioned by Sagamore Hill National Historic Site, and displayed in collaboration with the Oyster Bay Historical Society at the Koenig Center, “How I love Sagamore Hill”, derives from Theodore Roosevelt’s well-known quote to his wife Edith on the day before his death.
Wednesday, 19 June 2013 00:00
With notices now coming in, the first ArtWalk on June 2, was a success. Walter Imperatore, co-chair of the Marketing Committee of the Oyster Bay-East Norwich Chamber of commerce offered, “We were generally happy with the results. Jim Perna of Long Island Picture Frame, who’s running this event for the chamber, said that he saw an increase in the number of people on the streets. That being said, we were looking to attract more people.”
ArtWalk also gave several artists the opportunity to share their talent with the public as the Arts & Antiques Walk planned for this summer’s Sundays debuted. It is intended to bring people to the hamlet by adding “eye candy” to the streetscape and Julie and David Heiss of the Madd Potter agreed it did.
Thursday, 13 June 2013 00:00
With fans wildly cheering from the sidelines, the Friends Academy Boys Varsity Lacrosse team kept rival Cold Spring Harbor at bay before ultimately beating them 9-4 to capture their first ever Class C Nassau County Championship.
Coach Brian Crocco credits the team’s offensive balance with their success in the championship game and throughout the 14-2 season. “What we have found all season is that while we do have a few serious impact players who contribute quite a bit to our offensive success, what has been most remarkable is that we have shared the scoring well, especially in big games. During the championship game, we had seven different goal scorers contribute for the win — two seniors, three juniors, and two sophomores. We have six guys with at least 20 points each this season, so in crucial situations we have found that any number of guys can make a play.”
Thursday, 13 June 2013 00:00
The Oyster Bay High School’s Fencing Team gave a demonstration at Senator Carl Marcellino’s/OBEN Chamber of Commerce Annual Health Fair. The demo started off with a foil bout with Virginia Kemp vs. Lucian Paone, followed by Nina Policano vs. Grey Warwick-Clark in epee and ending with a saber bout of Matt Mahoski vs. Anant Mehrotra. Also present were Head Coach John Bruckner who umpired and gave commentary of the matches with assistant coaches Chris Hammond and Mark Lizza.