Gearing Up For Back To School

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School board officially adopts revised budget at August meeting

It may be the dog days of August, but the Floral Park-Bellerose School Board always has September on their minds. Before you know it, the doors will open, and it will be ‘back to school’ for students, teachers, and parents alike.

The district held its regular August meeting at John Lewis Childs on Monday, Aug. 13, to tie up some loose ends and get down to the business of the 2012-13 school year, which kicks off September 4. Business is the operative word, as the district formally approved this year’s budget, with some revisions.

When the tax levy was first announced in June, there were some variables unavailable to come up with a final figure. Originally, Floral Park-Bellerose residents were going to see an increase in their tax bill of $134 a year, factoring in the blended rate increase that includes the Sewanhaka levy.  Since the budget was adopted, more numbers have come in to help the district better calculate its share of the Sewanhaka levy. Floral Park-Bellerose will be picking up 19.3 percent, rather than 19.4 as previously thought.

That means the blended rate goes down, as does the tax bill, which will now be $116 dollars over last year.

“We think that’s good news, we know that every dollar to our residents is important,” said board business administrator Michael Fabiano.

The other main piece of business at the meeting concerned standardized test scores. Several parents in attendance were disappointed at the district’s performance when compared to other towns. New superintendent James Opiekun said the district is in the early stages of evaluating the issue.

The Floral Park-Bellerose school district holding its regular meeting at the John Lewis Childs auditorium, Monday, Aug. 13.
“I’m going to work with our principals and our staff in looking at the layers that lead to test improvement but not at the expense of just teaching to a [standardized] test, and making sure that what’s being tested is being taught,” Opiekun said.

“Are there curriculum issues? Are there gaps somewhere that are not being covered? And then we look at implementation of curriculum to see whether or not we need to support good teaching along the lines of making sure that what we set as district goals are actually being addressed in the classroom,” Opiekun added.

Focus seemed to be on the fifth grade performance in English and math, but Opiekun said that’s only part of the picture, and that test results showed some positives as well.

“When I looked at the comparisons with other districts and other grades, it seemed like we were between the second and third quartile,” Opiekun said. “There seems to be a break in the flow, which is very different than having a breakdown.”

The superintendent assured parents that he’s on the case to see what can be done to get those scores up.

“My prediction is that things are going to improve,” Opiekun said. “Why is that? Because when we make something important, it improves.”

Other news and notes from the meeting:

– The schools are fully staffed, with the exception of one physical education slot that needs to be filled.

– In order to get more support at the building level, Opiekun plans, on a trial basis, to condense the assistant superintendent role into one position, which will allow the district to advertise for an assistant principal, putting one in both schools.

– The ‘Go Math’ curriculum, already used in lower grades, will be adopted for higher grades.

– This year’s Code of Conduct on School Property, covering harassment policies, rules and disciplinary measures for anyone on school grounds, was adopted.

– A full priced lunch will be $2, same as last year.

– New boilers have been installed in the Floral Park-Bellerose building.

The next regular meeting of the school board will be Monday, Sept. 10, 8 p.m. at the John Lewis Childs auditorium.

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