Community members gathered for the Lynbrook Public Schools’ regular Board of Education meeting at Lynbrook High School on March 13. Throughout the evening, a variety of talented students were honored, along with a beloved teacher who recently passed away.
Starting on a solemn note, the board spoke about the passing of Lynbrook High School world language teacher Antonietta Maddalena Coletta, who touched the lives of many students and staff in the district. Coletta’s daughters were present at the meeting and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Melissa Burak, along with board members, tearfully acknowledged just how special Coletta was. One of Coletta’s former students who graduated from Lynbrook High School in 2015, read a beautiful essay during the meeting about how Coletta made an impact on her life.
The board recognized senior Leo Glassman, who will play double bass in the National Association for Music Education All-Eastern Honors Concert Band this April. Senior Samantha Farber was also praised for being an All-County Art Senior Scholar recipient. She received the award and had her artwork displayed at the All-County Art Exhibition, sponsored by the Art Supervisors Association on March 10.
Several student-athletes were also commended. Junior Dom Barbuto was recognized for being selected to join the New York State Sportswriters Association Class A All-State team for football. The board also congratulated the boys basketball team for an exciting season and recognized senior Rylan Blondo for scoring more than 1,000 points in his high school basketball career.
During the superintendent’s report, Dr. Burak provided several updates. She noted that the district received the Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Association of School Business Officials International, for its commitment to transparency and high quality financial reporting. Dr. Burak commended Dr. Paul Lynch, assistant superintendent for finance, operation, and information systems, and the entire business office for their hard work.
A quick recap of the 2019-2020 school budget work session from February was given, along with information about substantial equivalency (equivalent education between private schools and public schools). Dr. Burak and Dr. Gerard Beleckas, assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and assessment, attended a workshop with representatives from both private and public schools about this topic which has not been enforced by New York State until recently. Local public schools are now being charged to enforce the substantial equivalency requirement which means the district has to go in and review their local private schools to make sure they are meeting the same standards as public schools. Since the district must follow the unfunded state mandate, Dr. Burak mentioned to the board that BOCES is offering a service to do this and recommended that the district look into it.
In addition, she invited members of the board to an upcoming meeting with Sen. Todd Kaminsky and Assemblywoman Judy Griffin. Here, the district will share their concerns about items in the budget, how they feel about the tax cap, unfunded mandates and funding for mental health resources for students.
Following the superintendent’s report, Dr. Beleckas provided a curriculum update about the Every Student Succeeds Act and New York State assessments. He noted that two changes have taken place. Those who do not participate in the 3-8 math and ELA assessments will be counted as level 1 students for school accountability purposes (the school’s report card). The second change is that schools who have one subgroup not meet their Measures of Interim Progress for two consecutive years, will no longer be in good standing with New York State.
“As always, we respect the rights of the families to make the decisions for their children regarding the state assessments,” said Dr. Beleckas. “However, we did want to share the possible ramifications regarding our schools’ accountability status.”
Toward the end of the meeting, Dr. Lynch provided a capital projects overview for the community. He noted that the district is currently monitoring 22 separate capital projects which includes six security vestibules and 10 projects associated with the 2017 bond referendum. Projects include the locker rooms at North and South middle schools, wrestling room at the Kindergarten Center, air conditioning in all the elementary schools, an elevator at Waverly Park and five bathrooms at Marion Street. He also highlighted projects that were discussed at the budget work session. For more information on these projects, please visit the Finance and Budget page of the website.