Herricks ed board picks new president, VP

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Herricks school board trustees Jim Gounaris and Henry Zanetti are sworn in Thursday by a district lawyer, Mary Anne Sadowski. (Photo by Samuel Glasser)

By Samuel Glasser

Brian Hassan was elected the Herricks school board president on Thursday, succeeding Nancy Feinstein, who remains a board trustee.

Juleigh Chin was elected the vice president at the board’s annual organizational meeting Thursday night. She succeeds Christine Turner, who retired from the school board after 27 years.

Newly elected school board Trustee Henry Zanetti and re-elected Trustee James Gounaris were also sworn in Thursday at the board’s first meeting of the 2017-2018 school year.

Feinsten served as the board’s president for two years. Gounaris preceded her, leading the board from 2013 to 2015. Turner was the president for several years before Gounaris.

Looking back at 2016-2017, district Superintendent Fino Celano said, “we have a lot to be proud of.”

Celano said preliminary data showed that students’ academic mastery significantly increased, including their performance on the state Regents exams.

Celano also announced that Christine Finn, the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, is leaving Herricks to take a job as the superintendent of the Shelter Island school district.

A search is underway to fill the position and a committee of parents, teachers and administrators will interview prospective candidates, Celano said. He hopes that Finn’s replacement could be named by mid-August.

“We appreciate her positive outlook and she contributed a lot for our tradition of academic excellence,” Celano said of Finn.

Finn’s departure is the latest among several recent changes within the district’s administration. Celano replaced longtime Superintendent John Bierwirth in 2015. Lisa Rutkoske, the assistant superintendent for business, was hired in 2016 to replace Helen Costigan, who retired last June.

Also on Thursday, the board adopted a policy allowing students who forget their meal money to defer payment.

Rutkoske said that this had already been the practice, but the board formally aligned it with state guidelines.

The move also follows a directive from the U.S. Agriculture Department that school districts address the problem of students who do not have money to pay for their meals.

That followed recent, well publicized incidents around the country where children who did not have money were humiliated on the check-out lines in school cafeterias.

Herricks students will be permitted five outstanding charges, but no one will go hungry; when a student exceeds the limit, a basic breakfast or sandwich for lunch will be available, the policy says.

Parents will be notified of outstanding charges and students who abuse the policy can lose their charging privilege. The policy also says families may apply for free or reduced-price meals at any time during the year.

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