District Spotlights Diversity in Schools and More at BOE Meeting

District Spotlights Diversity in Schools and More at BOE Meeting Photo thumbnail181653
The Lynbrook Board of Education held its regular meeting on March 10 in the Lynbrook High School auditorium. The meeting opened with a virtual presentation from art teacher Michael Kunz regarding this month’s Bern Seiderman Gallery exhibit, “Can You See My Screen?” The gallery features computer artwork from Susan Ehrlich’s Photo Illustration class and Mr. Kunz’s Graphic Design class.

Following the video presentation, Board President William Belmont welcomed long-term substitute teachers John Ferraro, Gabriella Abate and Joanne Mara. He also recognized Diane DeVito, personnel clerk, who was granted retirement during the meeting. She was thanked by the board of education for her service to the district.

The Lynbrook community also received a diversity update. One of the board’s goals this school year has been to try and create more diverse learning experiences for students. Lynbrook North Middle School Principal Sean Fallon, chairperson of the district’s Diversity Council, presented on the important work that the council has been doing to promote diversity in schools. He shared a timeline of the Diversity Council which was first established during the 2018-19 school year and explained its role. Mr. Fallon presented on the council’s goals and the objectives from this school year, such as promoting hiring processes that lead to a more diverse professional staff. The presentation also exhibited changes in BOE policy which the board adopted earlier this year. These policies reflect inclusion and equity and have created new educational opportunities for students to strengthen their cultural proficiency. Mr. Fallon provided several examples and pictures of lessons and celebrations that have occurred in the schools. Moving forward, the council is reviewing the curriculum and book lists to make them more diverse.

During the meeting, the board of education shared their sorrow and their sympathies with the community regarding the death of Don Roth, former physical education and health teacher, drivers education instructor and coach in the district. Board members shared the fond memories they had with Mr. Roth and expressed how much he will be missed. Sadly, the Lynbrook Schools lost another giant in education when it learned of the passing of Dr. John Beyrer. Dr. Beyrer was a former English teacher, guidance counselor, principal and assistant superintendent. He also served as the first principal of the Lynbrook Kindergarten Center. He spent many years passing on his wisdom to the staff and students. A sympathy resolution was adopted in honor of Dr. Beyrer and will be sent to his family.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Melissa Burak followed with her monthly report. She acknowledged that this week marks the one year anniversary of school closures across New York State and thanked those who responded to the district’s reopening survey. Dr. Burak shared that seniors returned to the high school this month and that the district is continuing to monitor cases as the high school approaches its next wave of students (juniors) returning to full in person learning on April 12. The high school reopening subcommittee will consider possibly pushing up the May 10 return date for the freshmen and sophomore classes if it is deemed safe to do so. The hope is to have them return as soon as possible after April 12. Dr. Burak respectfully asked the school community to continue to work together to stop the spread and to not throw parties.

Dr. Gerard Beleckas, assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and assessment, provided a curriculum update regarding the Regents exams. He announced that despite the pandemic, the Algebra 1, English, Living Environment and Earth Science Regents are still being administered this June. These exams will not be required in order to graduate. New York State is petitioning the federal government for a waiver. Dr. Beleckas also reported that the New York State Board of Regents will meet this month and are expected to officially cancel the exams that are not federally required. This includes the Algebra 2, Chemistry, Geometry, Global History, Physics and the U.S. History and Government Regents. They also will be discussing cancelling all Regents exams in August.

Towards the end of the meeting, Dr. Paul Lynch, assistant superintendent for finance, operations, and information systems, provided a capital projects update. The board awarded the Marion Street elevator project during the meeting. He also reported that the construction at Lynbrook High School is moving along nicely. During the March break, minor demolition work will begin in the Science wing of the high school in preparation for the major renovation this summer. The community was also informed that tentatively on May 3, the sewer work at the high school will commence. This will require the street to be ripped up in front of Lynbrook High School and traffic will be affected.