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On March 11, the BOE opened the meeting with presenting the Veterans’ Exemption, followed by a hearing. According to state statistics, there are 416 veterans eligible for the Veterans’ Exemption in Nassau County and none eligible for the Surviving Parent Exemption (Gold Star). Data specific to our school district were not available. Mr. Caputo, assistant superintendent, said the state estimates that the increase to non-veteran residents would be $40 or $20, respectively depending on the type of exemption the board would opt-in to. There were two exemptions in consideration—the statutory basic maximum exemption (usual until now in NYS, reaching an amount up to $12K, $20K, and $60K) and reduced maximum exemption which was adopted by the board after the hearing. The Reduced Maximum Exemption reaches an amount up to $6K, $4K, and $20K in its respective category. The board also adopted the Surviving Parent Exemption (Gold Star) with the reduced minimum exemption reaching an amount up to $10,000.
After adopting the exemptions, the board proceeded to recognize several students for their academic achievements. It was also announced that some received a full scholarship to the college of their choice.
A group of Lakeview residents, represented by Mrs. Bayley presented a statement in which the residents expressed their dissatisfaction with the small number of Black mentors being present in the district, high number of study halls, and cancellation of Black Studies Club.
In his response to the statement, Mr. Tulley, board trustee, voiced his strong opposition to the Black History Class.* In his speech, he referred to a different venue he attended, most probably a NAACP meeting. It caused uproar of Lakeview residents, but other attendees were left guessing what has happened. Mr. Tylor, board trustee, calmed the situation by calling on all involved parties to visit him: “My door is open, we must talk.” After a short speech reiterating the need for a talk, he left the meeting.
Mr. Hunderfund, superintendent, turned the discussion to the class enrollment. He stated, “I wish we could have everything, [but] the bigger [district] you are, the more you can offer”, and continued, “The kids don’t sign up for more than required classes. They don’t want to take anything extra. We have class enrollments, business classes in teens. We go around, we knock on the class doors, ask, please, sign up. The kids simply don’t sign up.” He continued, “We improved a lot. In 2007, we offered two or three AP classes, we were rock bottom at AP. …Dr. Reed brought in a good candidate once, if somebody has a good candidate and, if we ever have openings in this district again, bring him in, we look at it.”
Dr. Romano, HS principal, addressed the study halls, AP classes, and schedule. “60% of students in the AP classes are African-American…and they are not only in these classes, they are succeeding. We have phenomenal teachers, our relationship between the students and teachers is like this [crossed fingers]. That’s why we are successful. …That’s why we increased the passing percentage. …We are graduating students with 20 college credits.”
Mr. Alexander, Lakeview resident, asked for clarification and the following discussion evolved, “…if the classes are 5-hour long, why are they scheduled every other day. He didn’t “…understand how we can have students with a downtime, that’s not acceptable. You should fill the schedule and send it home to sign. …If I’m a teacher and monitor a class, I still could teach, right? I could teach math, English, art.”
“The teachers contract doesn’t allow it,” Dr. Romano replied.
“So I’m limited on how many hours I teach in a day?”
“Absolutely. It’s 5 hours a day. After 5 hours, there may not be a class available.”
“So is it fair to say that you don’t have enough teachers to teach the 6th hour?”
Dr. Hunderfund entered their conversation explaining that it’s again the matter of size. The more students are in a HS, the easier it is to run the same class several times during the day. The district revised the study halls issue and tried the best to enroll students to classes in this, second semester. Although by releasing additional educators the district is effectively opening bigger window for more study halls in the next school year. Yet, the HS will still keep 9 periods.
Before closing of the meeting, the board proposed:
- Capital Reserve Fund expenditure in the amount of $1.6M
- Establishment and Funding of Capital Reserve Fund II in the amount of $10M for probable length of 10 years.
- Funding of Repair Reserve Fund
All three funds would be funded by transferring funds. They won’t represent additional cost to district taxpayers. But the propositions require voters’ approval on May 20th.* After receiving the comment from Jack Tulley (below) the text was corrected from the original “Black Studies Club”.