The Great Neck Board of Education made a series of changes to the bylaws at its annual organizational meeting Monday night, including the creation of an alternate vice president, consolidation of its advisory committees and moving “open time” to the bottom of meeting agendas.
Barbara Berkowitz, the school board president, said the board was merging the separate citizens and financial committees into the Board of Education Advisory Committee.
“This new committee shall serve as a conduit between residents, students, staff, administration and the board on all items of importance, including community concerns, financial operations and ongoing construction projects,” Berkowitz said.
The school board also created the position of alternate vice president to ensure there would always be two officers present at a meeting. Trustees voted Rebecca Sassouni into that role.
As for returning the public comment period to the end of future meeting agendas, Berkowitz said it was “so it does not interfere with presentations at the start of a meeting.”
The agenda was filled with routine appointments to positions like auditors, compliance officers, the district clerk, legal counsel, registrar, district clerk architects, engineers and a school safety team.
The meeting was also the final one of the longtime secretary to the school board, Kathleen Koslow, who received a standing ovation from administrators and board members at the meeting.
Her retirement is one of 18 from the Great Neck schools this year, according to the school district, including Patricia Daley-Jimenez, the district’s director of food services.
Berkowitz described Koslow as pivotal to the function of the Board of Education and someone who “always had their back.”
“Kathy is not just a secretary to the board,” Berkowitz said. “She is the sixth member of our board in terms of being there for each and every one of us every day.”
In unrelated administrative business, trustees also voted to approve the creation of a memorial fund for Evan Grabelsky, a teaching aide at Great Neck North High School who was killed earlier this year.
According to board documents, the family and friends of Grabelsky wanted to create a scholarship for Grabelsky that would support one to three students participating in alternate assessment testing who finished high school and/or a functional life skills program annually.
“The scholarship will be used for job readiness and job placement services, the additional costs of post secondary education or training programs, and/or activities or program within the community,” the summary page reads.
In open time, Annie Mendelson said she believed it would be useful if the Board of Education live-streamed its meetings online in the interest of transparency so people can see the discussions going on.
She also said the board should consider breaking up the annual line-by-line budget review, as certain populations cannot attend on Saturday, and said advisory committee meetings “should be transparent.”
Berkowitz said the line-by-line budget hearings typically are not greater than three hours and that there are other budget meetings too, In addition, she said committee reports are available online and it is up to the committees to determine whether or not to list members as absent or present.
The next Great Neck Board of Education meeting will take place on Thursday, Aug. 29, at 8 p.m. in the Phipps Administration Building by Great Neck South High School.