The Lynbrook community gathered for the Lynbrook Public Schools regular Board of Education meeting on March 14, where staff members were honored for their exceptional work and security measures were addressed, among other important district updates.
Marion Street Elementary School Principal Theresa Macchia was commended by the board for Marion Street’s consistent effort to support amyotrophic lateral sclerosis research with the Ride for Life organization. In addition, Lynbrook High School math teacher Maria Mantikas was recognized for receiving the Harvard Distinguished Teacher 2018 Award, after one of her students, a current Harvard freshman, recommended her for her teaching efforts.
Administrator for Personnel and Student Support Services Maureen Berman shared the results of the middle school after-school program survey which resulted in 115 responses to weigh the decision of pursuing an after-school middle school program, similar to the district’s current after-school elementary program. Berman explained that 64 percent of families responded that they would utilize an after-school care program for their middle school students. After a discussion among board members, the board of education agreed to pursue a new program.
Berman also kicked off the Superintendent’s Report by presenting on a possible community-based mentorship program within the district. Creating a mentoring program is one of the goals of the board of education. As part of the committee who researched different mentoring programs, Berman spoke about what the district has to consider when finding the right fit. After speaking with various programs, Berman concluded that the committee voted unanimously for Big Brothers, Big Sisters. After discussion, the board decided to move forward with pursuing a mentorship program.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Melissa Burak continued the Superintendent’s Report by thoroughly explaining the district’s safety protocols while reinforcing that the district takes the safety of students very seriously. Community members were encouraged to read the handouts that were provided during the meeting. These included an emergency planning guide for parents, a letter explaining the safeguarding tool Report-it.com, a handout on warning signs for students at risk, including a discussion on mental health topics and two letters to elected representatives.
The first letter was addressed to New York State Education Department Commissioner MaryEllen Elia about the district’s Smart Bond Investment Plan. The plan consists of installing security vestibules and high tech door hardening mechanisms to prevent an intruder from entering school buildings. The district's Smart Bond Implementation Plan was submitted to the New York State Education Department Office of Educational Management on Jan. 17, 2017. It passed initial review and has been listed “Under Expenditure Review” since March 2, 2017. The district was granted $892,000 by New York State for the plan and hoped to implement it by last summer but has not heard a word about the status of the application since that date.
Simultaneously, the district submitted construction plans for the security projects to NYSED Office of Facilities Planning. All plans have been approved. In a normal process, the district would be able to start work on the projects the day after the plans are approved but in the Smart Bond world, the district is unable to do any of that until the Implementation Plan is approved.
“That is what is being held up,” said Assistant Superintendent for Finance, Operations and Information Systems Dr. Paul Lynch. “Also, it is a reimbursement program. So, we have to put out the money to get it back. We have the money set aside, but we are not permitted to spend it because we have been told not to expend any funds until after the Implementation Plan is approved by the Smart Bond Review Board.”
The second letter that was discussed during the meeting was for Nassau County Commissioners David Gugerty and Louis Savinetti about the concern on public voting in school buildings while school is in session. The letter, signed by Dr. Burak and East Rockaway Superintendent Lisa Ruiz, asked that communities hold their elections at other venues for the safety of students.
In addition, Dr. Burak shared that the district once again received the Association of School Business Officials International 2017 Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting Award for transparency and high-quality financial reporting. She also made note that a change has been made in the district calendar and that school will now be in session on May 25.
Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Gerard Beleckas provided a curriculum update for the public which included digital learning opportunities in the district. Dr. Lynch concluded the Superintendent’s Report with a capital projects update. The board approved three contracts, a West End School brick pointing contract and two contracts at Waverly Park School. One for the boiler and another for new electrical service. These projects are expected to occur this summer. Dr. Lynch also provided an update on the bond. All of the smaller plans are at New York State and the district is in the process of getting the preliminary plan for Lynbrook High School going. The architect will begin meeting with the teachers and departments who will be impacted by the room plans, allowing them to have some input on the designs.