The Lynbrook Board of Education held its monthly meeting on April 20. The meeting opened with a virtual art gallery presentation from Lynbrook High School art teacher Michael Kunz. This month’s art gallery exhibit, “The Portfolio Senior Spotlight Show,” featured artists enrolled in the high school senior portfolio preparation class.
Following the presentation, Board President William Belmont welcomed several new staff members. Adrianna Schaefer was appointed as the district’s new director of fine and performing arts. She will replace current director Joseph Pallotta who will be retiring at the end of this school year. In addition, Lorraine Troici was appointed as a reading teacher, Filia Belesis was appointed as a teacher assistant, Shannon McGovern and Katherine Scandiffio were appointed as long term elementary substitute teachers and Stewart Ratzken was appointed as a long term substitute band teacher.
The board also approved the retirements of Maryann Glorioso, account clerk in the business office, Art Ferrara, Lynbrook South Middle School head custodian and Robert Bivona, maintenance worker. All three were thanked for their service.
Several students were also honored during the meeting. The board recognized Lynbrook South Middle School student Eric Reilly who won a New York State Award of Merit for his musical composition in the 2020-2021 PTA Reflections Program. In the area of athletics, New York State All-Academic Students Camilla Bahri and Kyla Nembach and New York State Scholar Athletes Kayla Schwizer and Leanna Sullivan were recognized. These four basketball players and their teammates also earned the New York State All-Academic title. In addition, the Lynbrook High School Virtual Enterprise team was commended for being named top performers internationally in the Virtual Enterprise organization.
Members of the Lynbrook High School Student Government Association and Waverly Park Student Council conducted a presentation about their March fundraiser, “Lynbrook Lights the Sky,” to support the PTA Councils’ annual senior scholarship fund. During the meeting, the students presented a check of $3,600 from the fundraiser for the LHS Class of 2021.
During new business, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Melissa Burak announced that the Lynbrook Kindergarten Center courtyard area would be named in memory of Dr. John Beyrer. Dr. Beyrer was the first principal of the Lynbrook Kindergarten Center, among other roles in the district, and made a positive impact on students, staff and the Lynbrook community. The space outside the school will be named the “Dr. John Beyrer Kindergarten Center Courtyard,” and a ceremony will be held in the future to unveil the new sign.
During Dr. Burak’s superintendent’s report, she provided a COVID-19 update. Nearly every student who chose to return to in-person learning has done so. Freshmen will be returning to Lynbrook High School on April 26. With more people in the school buildings, Dr. Burak encouraged everyone to remain vigilant in the fight against the spread of COVID-19. She shared with the community that the New York State Department of Health released updated guidance as it pertains to schools. This guidance will be used to plan for next school year. She also shared that guidance was issued on graduations and other large events. Principals are working on plans for the end of the year.
In addition, information was shared about the Lynbrook Summer Playground. Due to COVID-19, the program last year was limited. This summer, the program will be expanded with safety protocols still in place. It will be a full six-week session but there will be a limit of 200 campers per campus. The cost will remain the same as it was during the 2019 summer session.
Dr. Burak spoke about New York State Education Department and its initiative to advance diversity, equity and inclusion in all schools. This connects to the goals of the district which is working to create a more diverse and inclusive environment for students. For example, additional diverse literature selections will be offered to students and the district’s Diversity Council is continuing to explore professional development opportunities and resources to support a culturally responsive classroom.
Dr. Burak announced that the district received a significant increase in foundation aid from New York State. She advised the board that the administration is proposing using this funding to decrease the proposed tax levy for the 2021-2022 fiscal year from the maximum allowable levy of 1.88% to 0.98%, the lowest levy in five years. Dr. Lynch presented revised revenue projections that included this increase in state aid, a decrease in Summer Playground revenue to facilitate stabilizing the program’s cost for district families, and a reduction in the anticipated use of reserves. The board approved the revenue revisions. Dr. Lynch will use these new figures when formally presenting the 2021-2022 budget to the community at the budget hearing on May 5.
Before concluding her report, Dr. Burak announced that the district received the Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Association of School Business Officials International for the sixth consecutive year. The Lynbrook Public Schools earned the honor for its transparency and financial reporting. She commended the entire business office, led by Assistant Superintendent for Finance, Operations and Information Systems Dr. Paul Lynch, for earning the achievement once again.
Following her report, Dr. Gerard Beleckas, assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and assessment, shared a curriculum update. In the middle and high school Regents courses, the district will be administering final exams that will count for 10% of a student’s overall course average. For the four courses that are offering Regents exams this year, students can choose between taking the final or the Regents exam to count toward their course average. Students will not be permitted to sit for both exams. Those who do not take the Regents exam, will receive an exemption on their official transcript. If they do take the Regents exam, the student can choose whether or not the grade will appear on their transcript.
Dr. Lynch presented an update on the district’s capital projects. The construction at Lynbrook High School is progressing well. On May 3, sewer work will begin at the front of the school which will impact where the students will enter the building. The main entrance will be moved to Carpenter Avenue. The sewer work is anticipated to be completed around May 21. The district is hopeful that the new addition will be completed right on schedule. Dr. Lynch also shared that there was a bid opening last week on the Atlantic Avenue boiler. The board will be awarding that at the May 5 meeting.