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Proposed Changes to Herricks Curriculum

Last Thursday, in anticipation of a larger turnout than usual, the School Board meeting was moved from the classroom-sized meeting room to the auditorium of the community center. The community did not disappoint. Nearly 150 parents, faculty and students assembled for the regular meeting of the Herricks District Board of Education to discuss the proposed changes to the 11th-grade Social Studies curriculum in the upcoming school year.

Based on more than three years of active planning by the Social Studies department, a proposal was made to discontinue the AP level course. Regents level students and potential AP level students would be combined into a single course, labeled as Regents.

Dr. Deirdre Hayes began, explaining the rationale behind the curriculum change and the theories justifying success in the adjustment to the course structure. Over the past decade, much of educational research has included tracking and detracking. Tracking is tiered instruction of a course to grouped students based on their intellectual abilities, or teaching to the competency levels. Detracking is believed to promote diversity within a beneficial learning environment, teaching the same material to all talent levels in the same classroom. Dr. Jane Modoono, Principal of Herricks High School describe the basic skills necessary for successful learning, essential for continued success in college and beyond. Modoono said, “At Herricks, we feel very fortunate to be able to have that conversation, to think seriously and critically about how we are going to prepare all of our students to be successful.” Social Studies chairman Tony Cillis gave a presentation of the proposed curriculum change, justifying the expected benefits of the new structure. Cillis reports the content will change, but the material will not be covered at any quicker pace than past courses. Also speaking in support of the curriculum change were Social Studies teachers John McManus, Daniel Lorge and Jim Bolen.

Dr. Hayes clarified the difference between AP classes and AP testing. Any student, regardless of their ability level, can take any AP exam without restrictions, but the content normally needed to succeed on such a test is what is taught in an AP class. The proposed history curriculum is an exception; its content prepares for the Regents exam, but the material is identical to the content covered on the AP exam. Students completing the course and the Regents exam would also be encouraged to attempt the AP exam without penalty.

The conversation about the curriculum was met with opposition from parents in attendance. More than 16 parents voiced concerns about the increased workload, the level and pace of the course, the anticipated lack of interest in students considered average ability learners and many other issues. Seven parents, as well as several current students of Herricks made favorable statements and welcomed the proposed history course changes. President Richard Buckley reassured the audience that the change requires more discussion between the board members and has not been approved as of this meeting.

Retiree Recognition

Board President Richard Buckley and Vice President Peter Grisafi recognized 28 district retirees for their dedicated service to the schools over their tenure. Fourteen of the faculty and staff members were in attendance to receive their certificates from Buckley and Grisafi. “We just want to take a second to really thank you for all the work you have done for us,” said Buckley. “As a teacher, you really do make a difference and I am sure you know that.” He extended the same appreciation for all faculty and staff members being acknowledged. This year’s teaching staff retirees are: JoAnn Kalman, Leslie Tory, Marilyn Allen, Glenn Heckinger, Ricki Miller, Jill Spiegel, Anthony Viollis, Rosario G. Lumaban, Ellen Siber, Ellen Seymour, Caren Besner, Sharon Bogard, and Marcia Nadler. The district’s civil service employees retiring this year are: Patricia D’Agostino, John DeBold, Linda Steel, Marie Stella Quercia, Maria Voli, Annette LoMonaco, Jeanette Provenzano, Nancy Muscat, Mary Ann Baskoff, Lorraine Guerra, Raymond Lauck, Bernard Dudich, Rosalie Frisone, Karen Witt, and Frieda Beckhardt.

President Buckley also recognized Aisha Iqbal, Grace Oh, Sana Sheikh and Meena Yoo for their service to the board as the student members sworn in for the past eight months.

Resolutions Passed

Approval granted to enter into contract with Geese Off! Inc, 499 East Branch Road of Patterson, NY for a three-month geese deterrence regimen, from July 15th to Oct. 14th at a rate of $26 per visit.  

Approval granted for transfer of an amount not to exceed $137,913.87 from the Accrued Liabilities and Employee Benefits Reserve Fund to the 2008-09 General Fund and to increase the General Fund budget by the same amount.

Approval to establish, in accordance with NY General Municipal Law (“GML”) 6-r, a Retirement Contribution Reserve Fund (Employees Retirement System) for those purposes enumerated under GML §6-r, effective immediately. The funding will be based on the seven-year average annual expenditure. Final amount to be placed in this reserve will be determined based on fund availability at the end of each school year.

Approval for agreement with Textbook Central for the procurement and distribution of textbooks for Herricks students attending non-public schools during the 2009-10 school year, at fees as follows based on OGS New York State Contract CMS879A. First 1 to 25 students by school=$25 per student per school; Next 26 to 250 students by school= $20 per student per school; Over 250 students by school=$15 per student per school.

Approval granted for a Stipulation Agreement for Student ID #1162128 for services at the Gersh School in Glen Oaks for summer 2009.

Approval for contracts with the following service providers: Hicksville SEDCAR 2008-09, All About Kids Services Contract 2009-10, and United Cerebral Palsy of Nassau County Tuition Contract 2009-10.

Approval for the Herricks Community Center Facility Fee Waiver Guidelines. The guidelines prepared by the Community Center Board of Directors were reviewed and discussed at the May 21, 2009 Board Meeting.