District Honors Star-Wrestler and Staff; Provides Curriculum Updates and Highlights  

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The Lynbrook High School cafeteria was packed with community members during the Lynbrook Union Free School District’s Board of Education meeting on Feb. 7. It was a monumental evening for seven long-time district employees who were granted retirement in June, while important updates were shared, student recognitions took place and instructional highlights were presented. 

Fellow staff members and loved ones were in attendance as board members read the recommendation of the superintendent of schools for retirement. Upcoming retirees include Joan Kocher, Joanne Marra, Anne McGrath, Pamela Capone, Kathleen Novak, Ellen Kannengieser and Waverly Park Elementary School Principal Lucille McAssey. They were praised by the board for their dedication to the district, each serving 15 years or more in the Lynbrook schools. The retirements will be effective on June 30. 

Lynbrook High School freshman Ally Fitzgerald was honored by the board for being the first female wrestler tournament winner for her outstanding season on the school’s wrestling team. In addition, updates were shared on how elementary grade levels are incorporating the district’s 2017-2018 theme, “Where Tomorrow Begins Today” into their curriculum. Second-graders at Marion Street Elementary School discussed their theme of engineering and how it connects to their lessons. Third-graders at West End Elementary School shared their theme of education, teaching one another inside the classroom, while fourth-graders at Waverly Park Elementary School presented on their theme of journalism. Principal Ellen Postman from the Lynbrook Kindergarten Center also presented. She showcased through video what the kindergartners have been doing with their theme of health and wellness while gifting each board member and administrator with an apple. 

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Gerard Beleckas also provided his own curriculum update. He shared that the New York State Education Department made changes for this year’s state assessments at the 3-8 level. The department reduced the number of testing days down to two days per grade and have announced that they are going to release at least 75 percent of the questions, giving more information to both the district and students. Mr. Beleckas also shared that at the state level they have replaced the Common Core State Standards with the New York State Next Generation Learning Standards of 2017. 

“In addition to the changes that the state has made, the federal government had passed the Every Student Succeeds Act in 2015,” said Beleckas. “We are finally starting to see some movement at the state level based on federal changes. There is an opportunity that is under discussion about possibly revising the teacher and principal evaluation system to remove the link to student test scores.”

Lastly, Mr. Beleckas spoke about the new accountability measures which require nearly-full participation from students and parents for the schools to remain in good standing. One requirement is that students cannot miss more than 18 days of instruction. 

During the Superintendent’s Report, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Melissa Burak announced that Lynbrook High School was once again selected as a New York State Reward School and that Waverly Park Elementary School was kindness certified for the work they have been doing. Dr. Burak also provided an update on the 2018-2019 calendar and an update on the governor’s state aid proposed budget. 

In this report, Dr. Burak stated that the district did see a slight increase from the governor’s budget which they are grateful for but that the community should be aware of items such as caps on expense-driven aids. The district has seen the largest increase in the aid categories in which they spent more money.
“The governor is proposing to cap the normal cost that we’re getting back right now. When we spend more than a certain amount of money on a student who is classified and in a special program, we will be capped,” said Dr. Burak. 

The district stands to lose more than $200,000 in state aid.
Even though the governor’s package appears to show that the district received more money, Dr. Burak noted that it is because the district spent more money in order to receive the additional aid.
Assistant Superintendent for Finance, Operations and Information Systems Paul Lynch provided a capital projects update, which included three sets of plans currently on their way to New York State. Plans consisted of the Waverly Park air conditioning and North and South middle school locker rooms and air conditioning. In addition, West End, Marion Street and Atlantic Avenue schools are still in the engineering phase but are anticipated to be done shortly and after February break, the designs for Lynbrook High School will be underway.