Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lynbrook Public Schools Board of Education live streamed its monthly general meeting for the community on April 21. The community was welcomed to submit questions for public comment until noon that day and tune into the live broadcast that evening on YouTube. This was the board’s first general meeting since schools closed in March.
At the start of the meeting, Board President William Belmont commended the Lynbrook staff and students for working hard each day during this unprecedented time. He also expressed his empathy for the Class of 2020. The board carried out their student presentations, commending three Lynbrook High School students on their recent achievements. Superintendent of Schools Dr. Melissa Burak praised Lynbrook High School junior Ursula Ratkiewicz and senior Kiera Derrig for earning silver key awards for their paintings in the 2020 Scholastic Art and Writing Award program. Dr. Burak also commended cross country student-athlete Sarah Denker for breaking the record for weight throw at 25 feet and 6 inches in shot put. Sarah is also the first winter track champion in shot put in Nassau County. She threw 31 feet and 6 inches All three students will have a Lynbrook T-shirt mailed to them.
Following the recognitions, the board approved the retirement of Ernesto Amador, a custodian in the district for the past 33 years. They thanked him for his service and wished him the best of luck. In her superintendent’s report, Dr. Burak shared some positive news with the community. The district was once again awarded with the Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting by the Association of School Business Officials International and a Best Community for Music Education by the NAMM Foundation for the eighth consecutive year.
In addition, Dr. Burak shared a coronavirus update. She remained positive while explaining that everyone is trying to find a new normal and thanked the community for their patience as the district has had to quickly transform how they deliver instruction.
“This is an unprecedented time in our lives, yet now is also a time for which we will emerge stronger and wiser,” she said. “It is with great resolve that we will all get through this together. It is through this adversity that we will all build our resilience so that we are better able to handle the next crisis we face.”
Dr. Burak also thanked the volunteers who have help with the district’s food distribution line. To date, the district has served close to 5,000 meals. She also thanked Island Harvest and the Vineyard Church from Rockville Centre for donating additional meals to families in need. She voiced her appreciation for the Lynbrook community for participating in the district’s food and thank you card collection. Some of the donations were sent to Our Lady of Peace Food Pantry and St. Raymond’s Food Pantry. Dr. Burak encouraged the community to continue to donate food to the pantry at Lynbrook High School and thanked Lynbrook Police Chief Brian Paladino who shared that the Lynbrook Police Benevolent Association will be donating food as well.
Lastly, Dr. Burak reported that the New York State budget is tight resulting in new state aid runs. A new aid shows an approximately $288,000 reduction for next year. There could be more cuts in the future which might begin this school year. This means that although the board already adopted a budget for 2020-2021, the district needs to restate the revenue side of the budget. The district will be pulling more money from its reserves.
“I want everyone to be aware that for the next few years things will be different financially,” said Dr. Burak. “However, as always, we will try to strive to provide the best opportunities for our children and make those connections that everyone is sorely missing right now.”
The date of the budget hearing has not been finalized yet. Community members can still expect a budget newsletter and a virtual budget meeting when it is determined.
Dr. Lynch provided a capital projects update. Construction has stopped in the district. Construction at Lynbrook High School began in mid-March, but operations had to stop due to the pandemic. The district is working with its attorneys and construction manager to see if they could get some work up and running as long as it is done safely with appropriate social distancing. Dr. Lynch hopes to share some good news at the next board meeting in May.
Dr. Gerard Beleckas, assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and assessment, shared a curriculum update related to remote learning. He thanked all the parents and students for their questions and feedback during this unprecedented time which helped the district formulate a plan. Within this plan, Dr. Beleckas shared four points — direct instruction in the teacher’s voice, student practice, feedback and mental health support. Online instruction is constantly evolving as the district strives to support students in their education.
To view the full virtual meeting, please click here.