District Honors Semifinalists; Presents Important Updates

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Lynbrook residents, administrators, students and faculty members packed the Lynbrook High School cafeteria during the Lynbrook Public Schools board of education meeting on Sept. 12. 

At the start of the meeting, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Melissa Burak congratulated three Lynbrook High School seniors who were recently selected as semifinalists in the 2019 National Merit Scholarship Program. Sam Cohen, Juliana Condoleo and Kaylie Hausknecht were honored by the board with T-shirts. Following the student recognitions, Board President William Belmont announced the new teachers who joined the district this year, along with where they are teaching. The teachers proudly stood as their names were called. 

The board also recognized Mary Jackson on her recent retirement. Jackson was a teacher aide at Lynbrook High School for the past 10 years. They thanked her for her service and wished her a happy and healthy retirement. During the report from the board trustees, Board Vice President Lesli Deninno reported the board’s goals for the 2018-2019 school year and trustee Alicemarie Bresnihan provided an update on building inspections where she stated that the “buildings look wonderful.” 

Director of Special Services Arlene Mishanie presented research on what her social emotional learning committee has worked on in the past year. The committee was established to help meet the board’s goal of “developing practices of social-emotional learning to support students experiencing social and emotional stress preventing them from meeting their fullest potential.” Mishanie reported on the current SEL programs at the different grade levels and that the committee has decided to focus on grit, social awareness and emotional regulation to get a better understanding of student needs. An SEL survey will be distributed in mid-October for students to anonymously answer questions which will give the committee more insight and help realign district activities and initiatives. Ultimately, the committee seeks to produce a SEL guide for the district. 

During the Superintendent’s Report, Dr. Burak reported on a successful Superintendent’s Conference Day and thanked Senator Todd Kaminsky and the Lynbrook Kiwanis for generously donating backpacks and school supplies to the district for students in need. Dr. Burak also reminded the community that homecoming and the PTA scholarship drive will be on Sept. 22 and that the early evacuation dismissal reunification drill will take place on Oct. 5. This will be a test of the district’s internal protocol. Families are asked to update and return their emergency contact forms for reunification purposes as soon as possible. 

To conclude her Superintendent’s Report, Dr. Burak discussed the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Department of Justice reached out to Nassau and Suffolk County schools, requiring voting information in the predominant languages for each jurisdiction. Last year, the Federal Government deemed Nassau and Suffolk with predominant languages of English and Spanish. Therefore, moving forward, the district will be providing all voting information in English and Spanish. 

Dr. Gerard Beleckas, assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and assessment, provided his curriculum report which was an update of the Every Student Succeeds Act. In addition to measuring English, math and science, the new high achieving measures that the district will be looking at are other categories such as student progressing in learning English and chronic absenteeism. The latter means that students must have an attendance rate of 90 percent or better. Dr. Beleckas also reported that at the high school level, social studies will now be added to the English, math and science, the graduation rate will be considered and there will be an index looking at college, career and civic readiness. A big point that Dr. Beleckas raised is that ESSA is also looking for improvements in the opt-out rate of state assessments and the New York State Education Department will start to enforce the 95 percent rule in participation of the assessments. To improve the testing experience, NYSED has also reduced the testing from three days to two days. 

Lynbrook High School Principal Joseph Rainis and guidance chairperson Laurie Mitchell presented on the weighting of Regents exams. They discussed the research that was conducted during the summer on this topic. While highlighting Lynbrook High School’s crowning achievements throughout recent years, Rainis spoke about the previous formula for calculating student GPA with Regents exams making up 20 percent of each final course grade. The district switched to a Do No Harm practice last year, meaning that if a student does not do well on a Regents exam, it would not count in the final average of a student’s grade. Through research, speaking with different college admission offices, and a great detail of discussion, it was decided to implement a new lower percent of 10 to weight the Regents exams and final exams in a student’s course grade. This practice considers the value of the exam while still taking into account anomalies in Regents scales utilized for scoring. To further the point, Rainis provided examples of how the formula would work, stating that a Regents exam’s impact is minimal for a student’s GPA at 10 percent.

To conclude the meeting, Assistant Superintendent for Finance, Operations, and Information Systems Dr. Paul Lynch provided a capital projects update. The brick pointing at West End Elementary School has been completed, the Waverly Park boiler is in place and set up, and the electrical update will be taking place soon. He also acknowledged the hard work and dedication of the contractors, buildings and grounds crew and the custodians who worked tirelessly during the summer months. Ceiling and lighting projects at Lynbrook High School were completed, along with room 306. The computer room and room 20 at Marion Street Elementary School were also all redone. Smaller projects included fencing and netting at the Kindergarten Center and an extension of the netting at Marion Street.