The Mineola Board of Education held a meeting on Thursday, Feb. 3. Here’s a look at some of the things you may have missed.
- The board tabled its 2011-12 school calendar after inquiring about designating April 12 and 13, 2012 as snow make-up days on the understanding that Superintendent Dr. Michael Nagler will ask the teachers’ unions about changing these dates.
- “I’m unable to build in snow days like the current calendar,” Nagler said. “That is, I’m unable to do it without cutting into weeks that we traditionally have off, such as the April break or the February break.”
- New York State requires 180 days of instruction for students, or the district will lose state aid.
- Mineola has already two extra days built into the calendar for which the staff members are paid. It is these two days that Nagler will ask the unions to be moved to June 25 and 26, which would be staff-only. This would give students a full week off for April break, meet state requirements and ensure staff members fulfill the 182 days for which they are paid.
Allergy Policy Review
- At the request of a parent, Dr. Nagler said he will consult with the school district physician and draft new regulations to the policy entitled “Life Threatening Allergies and Anaphylactic Management” specifically to the nature of children with peanut allergies.
- “We have seen a large increase in the number of children that have very serious allergies, so much so that an EpiPen is becoming more and more common in our buildings,” Nagler said.
- One of the parent’s requests was to ban all foods in the classrooms altogether. Nagler acknowledged the difficulty in enforcing such a request and suggested other options, such as separating students with allergies at lunch and snack time. After seeking advice from the physician, Dr. Nagler said that the district will first review how the policy is enforced, without changing the policy itself.
- Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations Jack Waters gave the board an update on the bond approved by voters in Feb. 2006 for construction on a number of schools in the district.
- The $10 million bond covered work being done on the auditorium, windows and doors, the HVAC system, windows and doors, the roofs of , , and and making the schools compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
- Construction began in July 2007 and is now complete, but Waters says he thinks “what the taxpayers would be most happy with are the financial results.”
- By utilizing bond anticipation notes (BANs) annually instead of borrowing the entire $10 million at once, the district saved $4.4 million in interest over the last five years.
- When the bond was first approved in 2006, the interest was estimated at $5 million over 15 years, but the district will have only paid about $595,000 in total interest.
- Waters expects that the rest of the $10 million bond – a little over $1 million left – will be paid by the end of June 2013. “The $1.1 million will be paid,” Waters said. “We have to permanently bond that remaining $1.1 million, we will do that over a 2 year term.”
Other Board News
- The board labeled the renovations to the Cross Street School gymnasium and additional parking with a SEQRA (State Environmental Quality Review Act). Routine activities, such as renovations or additions to existing public buildings by less than 10,000 square feet, have been deemed to have “no significant impact on the environment,” according to SEQRA regulations. The board will forward a copy of the resolution to the New York State Education Department along with correspondents with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Renovation in order to proceed with the project. The renovations are being done in order to ready the building to be , who will reportedly pay for the renovations with a higher initial rental fee per month.
- The board approved stipends of $1,500 each for Supervisor of Health and Physical Education Ralph Amitrano and Mineola High School Assistant Principal George Maurer to supervise the MSG Varsity program. The program, which is in its second year, gives students the opportunity to use television, online and interactive media to share their stories about different activities at school. MSG Varsity pays for the supervisor stipends and two $1,000 scholarships for students each year. Dr. Nagler said that they were not going to run the program this year when no teachers wanted to supervise, but then Amitrano and Maurer stepped up. Trustee John McGrath voiced some concern over having administrators fill this position, but Dr. Nagler said that since MSG Varsity is a separate entity from the school district, he cannot assign these positions.
The next meeting of the Mineola Board of Education will be on at 7 p.m. at the Willis Avenue School.