The Lynbrook Board of Education held its annual reorganization meeting on July 6 at Lynbrook High School, which included William Belmont, Lesli Deninno and David Yaker being elected president, vice president and secretary, respectively. Superintendent of Schools Dr. Melissa Burak, treasurer Linda Gillespie, District Clerk Theresa Moran and Assistant District Clerk Deborah Sorbara were appointed to their positions as well.
After a board member was selected as school board representative to the PTA Council, legislative representative for the board of education and school board representative for the Adult Education Committee, the reorganization meeting was adjourned and the focus turned to the retirements of two special members of the Lynbrook School District family.
Senior Personnel Clerk Catherine Bilello has announced her intention to retire, effective Sept. 30, 2021 after almost seven years of service.
“Mrs. Bilello was always available to assist employees and community members by answering questions, researching information and providing any other assistance that was needed,” Yaker said. “She remained professional in all situations and accommodated everyone who needed assistance. All of her endless efforts have not gone unnoticed.”
Nancy Hargrove has been a senior typist clerk in the technology office for 14 years, and she announced her intention to retire, effective Sept. 17, 2021.
“Mrs. Hargrove has steadily served as the backbone of the technology department through all these years by functioning as its central brain and hub of all activity,” trustee Ellen Marcus said. “Mrs. Hargrove has been the only person able to consistently focus the attention of many unruly tech by simply engendering their utmost respect and ensuring loyalty.”
The board also announced the appointments of 10 teachers in the Lynbrook School District, including Christopher Persaud (high school math chair), Nicholas Swing (West End), Caitlin Hopkins (Waverly Park, special education), Diana Leone (South Middle, special education/reading), Danielle Bottato (West End, speech), Brian Donaldson (North Middle, physical education), Carrie Lowell-Stern (North Middle/High School, family and consumer sciences), Lauren McGloin (Waverly Park, music), Danielle Post (Waverly Park, music/chorus) and Geraldine Tarantino (Waverly Park, elementary/math AIS).
A special recognition was then presented by Dr. Burak to Kayla Serpa, who was hired just before the COVID-19 pandemic began. Dr. Burak presented Serpa with flowers and thanked her for all she’s done for the Lynbrook School District.
“When you talk about a hiring just in the nick of time, I think this person fits that description to a tee,” Dr. Burak said. “Who knew at that point that we were going to be doing everything virtual? We thought it was just going to be a two week hiatus. It turned into more than a year of virtual meetings, a lot of recordings and a lot of videos by someone who was relatively new in the district and had to do a lot of training and learn a lot herself. We cannot let this year go by without recognizing Kayla Serpa.”
The board held its annual retreat on June 30, and Belmont said it was a good meeting to discuss the various goals the board has this upcoming school year. Board members also discussed the various graduations they attended, specifically highlighting how impressed they were by the student and staff speeches, and how wonderful it was to have graduation in person.
Dr. Burak followed with her superintendent’s report, which started by highlighting the district’s summer programs, two of which began on July 6. The district’s summer playground program is underway, and even with restrictions in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, North Middle School is able to host 209 campers and South Middle School welcomed 230 children.
The district also began summer high school, as classes are running classes on Algebra 1, Geometry, ELA, Earth Science, Living Environment, Chemistry Social Studies and Physical Education. There are a total of 65 students enrolled. Next week, the district begins its Summer Academy, for which 68 students are registered.
“We’re hoping that it’s a productive summer for everyone, both academically and socially,” Dr. Burak said.
Dr. Burak spoke about the district’s continued initiative to move more toward electronic information, and the district is moving to new system, meaning all of the forms for physicals will be moved online. Last year, Lynbrook started moving the demographic information to the portal, and there was only about 60% who responded, which was way down from previous years when the paper notice went home. There’s going to be a massive push to get closer to a 100% return, Dr. Burak added.
“We really do need all of that information,” she said. “So you’re going to hear me reiterate how important it is for you to put your information in.”
The next update came from Assistant Superintendent for Finance, Operations and Information Systems Dr. Paul Lynch, who spoke about the district’s universal pre-K program. New York State provided Lynbrook with approximately $356,000 in an allocation for universal pre-K.
“It’s important to note that Lynbrook was never eligible for these types of funds, so we only became aware of it in April,” Dr. Lynch said. “That’s when the state adopted its budget.”
Dr. Lynch spoke about how the district has no space to run a pre-K program on school grounds, so the district has the ability to go out and partner with a community-based organization. The district put out a Request for Proposals and two organizations responded. The district is in a negotiation process, talking to the potential providers. There are upcoming site visits and the board is expected to have an award, if all goes well, at the Aug. 11 meeting. The state has given the district enough money for up to 66 spots, which would be awarded via a lottery system, although different variables can lead to that number changing.
Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Dr. Gerard Beleckas also presented a curriculum update to the board. He said that there are several curriculum-writing projects that will begin this summer, including elementary library, middle school science research, special class science 8 and high school chemistry, as well as all of the higher-level beyond regents courses in Spanish and Italian.
Other projects include writing in the middle school English classes and the high school writing labs, new poetry units in both English 11 and 12, new curriculum for the special classes in English 11 and 12, a new ENL curriculum for any students who are entering or emerging (beginning ELL learners). The high school also has some new and revised courses, including personal finances for juniors, as well as applied science. The two new courses are accounting 2 and speech and debate.
Following the curriculum update, Dr. Lynch spoke about the status of several capital projects that are taking place throughout the district. The first major project is the completion of the bond work at Lynbrook High School. The new wing is up, the walls are painted, the floors are going in and they are starting to put in the case work, so that’s progressing nicely, Dr. Lynch said. The banana wing was demolished last week, so it’s one long room at the moment that will soon be divided up into the new science labs. Dr. Lynch said the district hopes to have that in place by September. The auditorium has also been demolished, and that work is expected to be completed by January.
The other major work is taking place at Marion Street School, which is getting an elevator installed. Currently, workers are in the process of doing the demolition and the asbestos abatement. This will impact two classrooms, and the nurse’s offices will have to be redesigned to accommodate a chair lift.
There is also a new boiler being put in at the kindergarten center. Flooring is being replaced at West End and Marion Street.
To view the board of education meeting, please visit the district’s website at www.lynbrookschools.org/boe/virtual_meetings
. The next board of education meeting will be held on Aug. 11 in the Lynbrook High School gymnasium.