BOARD NOTES -North Shore School Board Meeting, December 12, 2013 - Only 1 hour and 1 Minute - School Board Recognized for Service - Timeline for Bond Projects - To Be Done in Three Phases (See Old Business) - Security Changes - Bow Tie System (See New Business)
PRESENT: Board President Herman Berliner, Vice President Tom Knierim, Trustee Amy Beyer, Trustee Sara Jones, Trustee Toni Labbate, Trustee Michael Nightingale, Trustee Marianne Russo, Superintendent Ed Melnick, Assistant Superintendent Rob Cheblicki, Assistant Superintendent for Business Olivia Buatsi, District Clerk Betty Ciampi
There were nine community members in attendance
Herman Berliner opened the meeting by thanking the community for the December 3rd passage of the Bond Resolution. He explained the Board was in Executive Session to discuss matters pertaining to litigation.
BOARD RECOGNITION - Liz Cook, Grace Rubertone, and Natalie Woods of Coordinating Council thanked the seven members of the school board for volunteering their time, and for the work they do on behalf of the students and the district. They presented each of the Trustees and the two student Representatives with gifts.
MINUTES APPROVAL - The minutes of the November 21st meeting were approved.
SUPERINTENDENT'S REPORT - Dr. Melnick reported that parent-teacher conferences at the elementary schools were being held on December 5th and December 12th. He reminded the board and audience that Winter Concerts were scheduled over the course of the Dec 16-20 school week.
He said that the IB Presentation and Question and Answer Forum that was held at the high school on Monday, December 8 was well attended (primarily by elementary and middle school parents) and that he had received correspondences that expressed appreciation for Principal Albert Cousins' willingness to present on the issue once again. He said that the board would be discussing IB again at the Jan. 30th School Board Meeting.
He explained that Senator Flanagan (R- East Northport), the chair of the Senate Education Committee issued a report of findings and recommendations related to the Committee's statewide public hearings entitled "The Regents Reform Agenda - Assessing Our Progress." The report, he said includes both administrative and legislative recommendations. The Administrative recommendations include expediting waivers from the federal government to relax test requirements on certain students such as English Language Learners and students with disabilities. The committee is requesting that State Ed produce all missing or incomplete curriculum modules immediately for Common Core Learning Standards; that there be an aligning of assessments with curriculum; that there be a delay in the adoption of the data cloud inBloom for one year; and that there be an increase in funding for professional development of teachers. The Senator is proposing legislation to ban standardized testing for students in pre-K through second grade; a privacy bill to protect personal information on a state-wide data portal; and a truth in testing bill requiring the commissioner to report on the effectiveness of common core tests.
STUDENT REPRESTENTATIVE'S REPORT
Board Representative Adriana Rubertone thanked the board and superintendent for allowing students to choose the colors of their graduation gowns. She said it will be a colorful graduation with both boys and girls choosing either maroon or white. With Sports Night coming up, she said, the student government had settled on the theme of American Holidays - Halloween, Valentine's Day, New Years, and Fourth of July. Auditions for the Senior Play were on Wednesday and Thursday. Students will perform "The Boardinghouse Reach" on January 11th.
A very brief discussion involving board policies 6000-9000 was held. Dr. Melnick said the policy sub committee had sent some of the these policies along with policy 2360 (which regards Meeting Minutes) to the full board with minor changes. He said it was the committee's recommendation that the proposed changes be adopted. It was difficult to extract from the discussion what the changes actually were other than a change in language from "Business official" to "Assistant Superintendent for Business." The policy changes were listed as "Discussion" items and therefore will not be voted on until next meeting when they will be "Action" items.
The Board had a brief discussion on new policy proposals regarding Evaluation of Personnel, Media Relations, and Communication Among Individual Board Members. The text of the policies was unknown to the audience.
Dr. Melnick explained that the first recommended policy addresses the evaluation of personnel not covered by APPR and that the adoption of it was to be in compliance with state law.
Dr. Melnick suggested that the board discuss policies regarding Media relations and Communication Among Individual Board Members.
Trustee Nightingale said that he supported the two sample policies that were distributed to the Board but that he had a few suggested changes. He asked whether it was best to have the discussion at that time or should they first be reviewed by the policy sub-committee. President Berliner suggested the policy sub-committee take a look at it, but that the board perhaps should raise any questions or issues that should be addressed by the committee. Trustee Nightingale said he believed some language in the sample communications policy needed to be cleaned up a bit. Dr. Melnick recommended that any suggestions the board had regarding the policies by e-mailed to him and then the policy committee would consider them.
Tim Madden, Sea Cliff, said elementary report cards had been sent home recently and asked if the District intended to put report cards for elementary school students on the Parent Portal any time in the near future. Dr. Melnick responded "yes" - that the district was planning to have them posted on the Portal hopefully beginning next school year.
ITEM B - PERSONNEL - Trustee Knierim asked about a leave replacement recommendation indicated on the Personnel actions, and if it was a teacher who had been excessed last year. Dr. Melnick replied "yes." Dr. Melnick said the teachers excessed last year were put on a "preferred eligibility list" and for any leave replacement positions that are for five months or more or any probationary position, the district is legally required to hire from the list in order of seniority. An excessed teacher remains on the list for seven years. If the teacher turns down the offer or takes a job in another district, he or she will still remain on the list. He said that two other elementary teachers who had been excessed have already been brought back for leave replacement positions and there is one still without a job.
Trustee Russo asked about long term substitute teachers receiving health benefits. Dr. Melnick said initially a long term substitute works for thirty days at the per diem rate of $110/day. Once the teacher has worked for thirty consecutive days, thirty hours a week, they become eligible for benefits and move to the appropriate salary step and column.
Personnel Items approved unanimously
ACTION ITEMS C Approved unanimously
ACTION D - Approval of Math in Focus Workshops ($10,000). Trustee Maryanne Russo asked about the Math in Focus and Go Math programs and their implementation. Dr. Melnick explained that this year, students in grades 3-6 would be instructed with the Go Math program until they reach 7th grade. K-2 teachers will use the Math in Focus program this year. Math in Focus will then be phased in one year at a time, replacing GO Math in third grade next year, fourth grade the following year, etc. Dr. Melnick continued that last year's program "Everyday Math" was not aligned with the Common Core and that Dr. Smythe, the elementary STEM coordinator, believes that Math in Focus is the "more in depth program" but believed that GO Math was a better transition from Everyday Math for those students who had been instructed through that program the past few years. Dr. Melnick stated that both Math in Focus and Go Math are aligned with the Common Core.
ACTION ITEM E-G - Approved Unanimously
ACTION ITEM H - Approval of Contract with Teachers College for Reading and Writing Workshops for 10 days in the three Elementary Schools and Middle School at a total cost of $63,000. Trustee Jones asked what the workshops entail. Dr. Melnick explained that a Master Trainer from Teacher's College comes to each school and works with the faculty for 10 days over the course of the year. The trainer establishes lab classes to teach major concepts so that the trainer can give demonstration lessons with other teachers observing. The trainer will then push in to teachers' classrooms to observe and offer advice. Assistant Superintendent Robert Cheblicki added that it is a follow up to workshops teachers were enrolled in this past summer. Dr. Melnick said that this would occur probably for the next three to four years until the District is comfortable that it can self-train. Trustee Russo asked how this ties in with IB if the District chooses to go through with that program, and whether it would provide a good foundation for IB with its emphasis on writing. Dr. Melnick said that the district is already seeing results with the program and agreed that it would establish a strong foundation for IB.
ACTION ITEM I - Memorandum of Agreement with NSSFE Secretarial Unit - approved unanimously.
COMMENTS FROM THE PUBLIC Tim Madden, Sea Cliff, referred back to the earlier discussion of the Math in Focus program. He expressed concerns that with the way the transition is taking place from Go Math to Math in Focus, current second graders, as they move on to each grade level through 6th grade, will be instructed by a teacher who is using the Math in Focus program for the first time. He stated that when a teacher is teaching something for the first time, he is not as effective as when he's done it for at least a few years. He said for this year's second graders, they never will have a teacher who is experienced with using the program. Mr. Cheblicki replied that the content of Go Math and Math in Focus are both aligned with the Common Core and that the content training would be essentially the same. He said the major difference is with the word problems- which he said, Math in Focus is much more closely aligned with Common Core.
Dr. Melnick said that BOCES is requesting that a member of the School Board serve on the BOCES Budget review committee. Trustee Nightingale agreed to serve.
Dr. Melnick said he had gotten a letter from the Nassau-Suffolk School Boards association inviting the Board to join. Dr. Melnick said the Board has not had a membership for a number of years. The membership fee is $3100. The Board declined the invitation.
OLD BUSINESS CONTINUED - BOND PROJECT PHASES
Trustee Beyer stated that the Construction Steering Committee met with architects and construction people and worked out a timeline for the Bond projects. She said that the State Education Department is taking 26 to 32 weeks on approving mechanical projects, and so those cannot be done first. She said approval time, health and safety, borrowing structure, expiration of warranties, keeping either the MS or HS open for summer school, and grouping for economies of scale were taken into consideration in working out the schedule. Projects will be done in three phases.
First Phase - Summer 2014 - The playground retaining walls at Sea Cliff and Glenwood Landing; Security in all buildings; replacement of vinyl asbestos tiles at GWL and GH; replacement of the roofs at Glen Head and the Middle School
Second Phase - Summer 2015 - Masonry at all of the buildings except the High School,Gutter work at Glenwood Landing School, Water Service at Glen Head, HVAC systems at all schools except the high school; all remaining work at the Middle School. The Middle School will not be able to be used at this time.
Third Phase - Summer 2016 - All Work at the High School, Glenwood Landing Auditorium seating; Sea Cliff Roof; Sea Cliff HVAC. High School will not able to be used at this time.
Tom Knierim asked about security changes at the schools. Dr. Melnick explained the Bow Tie Network. If anyone in the building dials 911 on a school phone it will automatically enable the Nassau County Police department to view what is seen through the schools' security cameras. The police would not be able to monitor the schools at other times. He said the system would help reduce response time and monitor what is happening at the school if an emergency call is made. There will be a day during which the system will be tested. He also said the district is enrolling in the BOCES 24 hour monitoring system, so that the buildings could be monitored after school hours.
In response to a question from Trustee Knierim, Dr. Melnick said that new locks have been installed on classroom doors. Also faculty and staff have bar codes on their ID's that allow entry into the building using a card reader and that will also be used for signing in and out.
Dr. Berliner suggested that it might be a good idea to have blue light emergency phones in the parking lots of the schools for night time use, if it was every decided that was necessary.
Trustee Knierim commented that "anecdotally" he has heard some in the community say that the middle school is up to speed with technology, but that "the high school was not quite together" in that area. He asked to what extent is that perception true. Dr. Melnick replied that every high school teacher either has I Tunes U or their own website. He said there are currently 130 courses listed on I Tunes U. In 5th grade, he added, E-spark learning was being launched.
Dr. Melnick said that there would be an update on IPad usage at the January 30th BOE meeting.
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