The Regular Meeting of the Board of Education of the Floral Park-Bellerose Elementary School District was held via teleconference on Wednesday, February 10, 2021 at 7:15 p.m. Minutes of the January 19, 2021
Regular Meeting, Treasurer’s Report, Schedule of Disbursements and Health Report were approved or accepted as submitted.
High School: Sewanhaka Central High School District Board of Education Trustee Ferone reported that at the last meeting, the Board approved the 2021-22 school calendar. Floral Park Memorial High School began in-person learning five days a week for the eleventh and twelfth grade students. The District voted to allow high risk sports and the athletes will be tested weekly. Transportation requests for students attending private and parochial schools are due by April 1, 2021. The forms can be located on the school website. Trustee Ferone was pleased to report that twelve students from Floral Park-Memorial High School’s Model UN competed virtually at the University of Florida’s MODEL UN Conference. Trustee Ferone congratulated the two students who won the Outstanding Delegate Award and the one student who won the Honorable Mention Award. The District is in the process of course selection for the 2021-22 school year, and Trustee Ferone stated that they are hoping to add a medical training CTE program in the Fall. Trustee Ferone congratulated Floral Park Memorial High School class of 2021 Valedictorian Jacob Sinanan and Salutatorian Jacqueline Kelly. Trustee Ferone stated that both students have long academic, extracurricular and community service resumes. The next meeting for this Board will take place on February 23, 2021. This will be a closed meeting to the public due to COVID 19, Governor’s Executive Order No. 202.60, which was extended through February 26, 2021. Comments and/or questions for the Board of Education can be submitted through a link on the District’s website.
Board: President Ferone reported that she recently attended the Albany Virtual Capital Conference with Dr. Sottile, Dr. Mulcahy, Mr. Fabiano and Trustee Trentatcoste. Due to the COVID pandemic, President Ferone stated that they were unable to make their annual trip to Albany in order to represent the District and advocate on behalf of the students. Highlights of this convention included conversations with: Dr. Betty Rosa, Commissioner of Education; Dr. Lester Young, Jr., Chancellor Board of Regents; Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Education; Senator Shelley Mayer, Chair of the Senate Committee on Education; Daniel Fuller, Deputy Secretary of Education; Office of the Governor and NYSSBA Government Relations. Topics included information regarding the Governor’s Executive Budget which includes cuts in funding to schools across the State. This is being called, “The Pandemic Adjustment”. Topics of most importance included student welfare and the disparity between high wealth areas and those in need. Some of those issues include 1:1 devices, poor internet access and difficulty providing food to families. The future will focus on students mental and emotional health and the monies will be driven to those high need areas. President Ferone acknowledged the following individuals who will be retiring from the District: FPBS Principal Jamie Adams, FPBS Teacher Rosemarie Peltonen, FPBS Teacher Josephine Klein, JLCS Teacher Barbara Dooley, JLCS Teacher Paula DiMeglio and JLCS Custodian Gregory Pearce. President Ferone thanked them for their years of service to the District. Trustee Trentacoste reported that she recently attended the NYSSBA’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion webinar. The New York State School Board Association is establishing a DEI committee to continue to propel the conversation forward across the state and to explore, “the critical topics to identify the root causes of barriers to equitable educational outcomes for each student and work to eliminate disproportionality in all aspects of public education.” (Robert Schneider, Executive Director of NYSSBA). Trustee Trentacoste also attended the Albany Virtual Capital Conference earlier this week, along with some of her administrative colleagues, as President Ferone mentioned.
Policy Committee: Vice President Madden read the First Reading, Board of Education Policy # 5330 Budget Transfers.
Strategic Planning Committee: Vice President Madden reported that the Strategic Planning Committee had a Budget 101 meeting for the newly appointed members on January 21, 2021. The Committee scheduled two meetings for March 10th and April 14th.
Superintendent: Dr. Sottile thanked the public for their perseverance over the past several weeks and was happy to report that the COVID numbers, similar to that of the region and the state, are going down, therefore, allowing the District to continue with their current programs. Dr. Sottile thanked the teachers for demonstrating great flexibility in this pandemic. Dr. Sottile discussed the following upcoming events. February 25th and 26th are parent teacher conferences. Responding to feedback from the parents, the District will do Springtime conferences earlier, to provide time between the meetings and the student’s report cards. The District will also be utilizing the two Superintendent’s Conference Days in March to be half days for the Superintendent Conference and the other half for parent teacher conferences. Dr. Sottile stated that the Superintendent’s Conference will continue to focus on professional development for the teachers, teacher assistants and teacher aides. District programs are some of the items that they will focus on at the conference. Some of these include: Freckle, BrainPop and RAZ Kids. Teachers will explore the different features, functions and activities of these programs and learn how to manage classes, students, and track progress. APPLE professional developers will also be at the conference. These professional developers will focus on expanding knowledge on using the iPad in effective and meaningful ways with the students. The workshops will concentrate on the advanced settings and features, and the teachers will have time to explore them. Another workshop will focus on remote learning– the goal will be to expand their comfort zone and broaden their knowledge base. They will also offer a workshop on the MacBook Pro for staff that are currently using them. There will be both Model School professional developers and APPLE professional developers presenting workshops. Teachers will have the opportunity to choose two sessions each day. The second half of the day will be allocated to parent teacher conferences. The open online registration period for Kindergarten began this week on Feb. 9th, 10th, 11th. Please visit the District’s website to access the new online registration system. Following the initial registration process, parents will be contacted for an appointment to complete the paperwork in person. The hours of this program for next year are as follows: JLCS (8:15am-2:45pm) and FPBS (8:45am-3:15pm). Dr. Sottile asked parents to reach out to anyone who may not have seen the information and have them contact the school. Dr. Sottile provided updates and progress on extracurricular clubs at each school. At both schools, the District PROBE Club is currently focusing on coding, and she stated that they are having fun. Dr. Sottile gave an update for the following clubs at FPBS. The Rock Painting Club is expressing their creative talents and turning plain rocks into works of art!The Art Club works on a different project weekly, and the projects they design are based on student feedback. They articulate their ideas with the club teacher and plan together. The Math Olympiads Club meets every week from 3:00 p.m. – 3:45 p.m. The students have completed four of the five monthly tests (Nov, Dec, Jan, and Feb). This week they will be working on Roman numerals. The Drama Club participants have been enthusiastic and actively engaged. The students are successfully navigating theatre virtually and are hoping to perform outdoors in the Spring. At the JLCS, the Drama Club has been working ‘hard to prepare for their anticipated June performance. They are conducting smaller practices twice a week to promote social distancing. Both in-person and virtual students have been in attendance. The students have been singing and learning choreography to various Broadway shows, including Hamilton, The Greatest Showman and Mamma Mia. The tentative performance dates are June 3rd and 4th for an outdoor performance in the JLCS school yard. Chorus has been meeting virtually every Tuesday and Wednesday. Students have been learning a variety of vocal warmups to practice different techniques and working on pop choral music. Student Council has been in full swing since elections in early November. They meet every week, rotating between 5th and 6th grade meetings to keep the Zoom rooms smaller to provide more opportunities for participation. In December, they sponsored the 5th annual Toy Mountain and donated over 30 bags of toys to the Hance Family Foundation. In January, they sponsored Kindness Week for the Great Kindness Challenge with a focus each day on being kind to ourselves, family, classmates, teachers, and strangers. They sponsored dress up days and rewarded the teachers with personal letters covering their classroom doors. They are gearing up for Pennies for Patients in March and will close the year with a Memorial Day flag sale. The children are excited to help and have been responsible about Zoom meetings and remembering to give their daily announcements. Model UN is brand new this year at JLCS. Dr. Sottile stated that the 5th and 6th grade Model UN club is progressing nicely. Students are in groups and have been busy conducting research on a country and issue of their choice. They have been collaborating and preparing their slide show to present to the other groups about the information and possible solutions they come up with to help their country. Students are learning about the United Nations and what it stands for. They have gained an understanding of the role of delegate and speaker. Last month, the Districts PR firm (Syntax) joined both the 5th grade and 6th grade Zoom meetings and was able to see the students in action. Syntax asked questions about their engagement and roles within their groups and were able to present some of their slideshows to them. Syntax will be writing about their visit in the upcoming District Newsletter. Model UN advisors, Christina Saunders, and Marianna Antonakis are working with a parent to schedule a Zoom virtual tour of the United Nations as a field trip. At FPBS, under the advisership of Taylor Patwell and Kathleen Matusewicz, 5th and 6th grade students have been given the opportunity to act as delegates to the United Nations through participation in their Model UN club. Over the course of the school year, the scholars have learned about the structure of the United Nations, its role in world affairs, and various policies and procedures that must be followed during conferences. The “delegates” have worked in groups to do a deep dive into climate change and the different effects it has on the member states due to their geography. They have researched creative solutions to mitigate climate change, including cloud seeding and ecotourism. In preparation for their first Model UN conference, students have chosen which member State they would like to represent and are familiarizing themselves with complex issues in their chosen region. Delegates are looking forward to debating, collaborating, and passing their first resolution at the conclusion of the conference. Dr. Sottile advised parents who may want to request a change in their child’s program (from “all remote” to “in person” or “in person” to “all remote”), a reminder letter will be sent out by the principals on Monday, February 22, 2021. All requests are due back by Friday, February 26th. This change will take effect on April 6th allowing time (the month of March) for the District to prepare as it may involve re-rostering of some students, teacher preparation, teacher assignments and creating the physical space. Dr. Sottile provided a COVID update as of close of school day, February 10, 2021: At JLCS, 34 students quarantining (which includes one full class) and 1 positive case. There are 5 staff members quarantining, one positive case. At FPBS, there are 3 students quarantining and 6 home awaiting results; 2 are positive cases. There are 2 staff members quarantining, with 2 positive cases. Dr. Sottile wished everyone a safe, peaceful, and healthy winter break and thanked the community for their partnership and support of the District. If anyone is traveling, they are to adhere to the New York State travel advisory and quarantine appropriately.