Sewanhaka ed board to take hard look at security

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Sewanhaka ed board to take hard look at security
Floral Park Memorial High School teachers Christina Dierlam, left, and Amanda Abbott, discuss the national teacher certification program at the board meeting. (Photo by Sam Glasser)

By Samuel Glasser

The Sewanhaka Central High School Board of Education voted Tuesday to establish a subcommittee to review the district’s security protocols and the physical security of its buildings.

Board President David Del Santo introduced the motion at the regular board meeting to form the security subcommittee of the board’s safety committee.

He said the subcommittee’s mission would be to create a security plan and crisis management protocol. The board would bring together “people who know security” – police officers and security industry professionals – and representatives of the building trades to evaluate how the district’s high schools could be “hardened”.

“This must be done in a mindful way,” Del Santo said. “Security, safety in a learning environment. We don’t want to create a fortress.”

Veronica Goldberg of Franklin Square, president of the Sewanhaka Central Council PTAs, asked why the subcommittee would not include parents.

Del Santo said the intent was to keep the subcommittee “small and nimble” with the intent of delivering a report before the end of the school year to the board safety committee where the parent and teacher representatives could give their comments.

In other business, Superintendent Ralph Ferrie said the district was still awaiting word on how much state aid would be available for the coming school year once the state budget is finalized.

At the Feb. 27 board meeting, he said the district was anticipating state aid of $40.4 million, an increase of $2.6 million, based on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget presentation to the Legislature in January.

The board also heard a presentation by two Floral Park Memorial High teachers who hold National Board Certification, Amanda Abbott, math, and Christina Dierlam, history, on the benefits of the program.

National Board Certification is a voluntary advanced teaching credential that goes beyond state certification and sets national teaching standards. The certification process is rigorous and must be completed within three years.

Achieving the certification generally improves a teacher’s classroom effectiveness, which “will be felt or years to come,” Abbott said. Floral Park Memorial math teacher Susan Bach also holds the credential.

The board also heard a presentation of the School-wide Enrichment Model (SEM) program at Elmont Memorial High.

Kathleen Sottile, assistant superintendent for curriculum, said Sewanhaka partnered with the University of Connecticut approximately three years ago to develop SEM at the middle school level in the district’s five schools.

The primary goal, she said, is to apply gifted education teaching methods for all students. “SEM provides enriched learning experiences and higher learning standards for all children,” Sottile said.

Eighth grader Marvell Martin and ninth grader Hannah Meikle gave a classroom-view perspective of SEM. “Students can learn in different ways,” Meikle said. “All major subject areas are intertwined and the topics are focused on real-world issues.”

Elmont Memorial High Principal Kevin Dougherty and Sewanhaka High School Principal Christopher Salinas accepted certificates on behalf of their schools from the research firm Better Outcomes Research LLC for boosting the achievement of economically disadvantaged students.

The firm, based in Hartsdale, N.Y., conducted a study of more than 200 schools in New York State; each was asked to identify strategies that they believe are working to boost the students’ performance.

Ferrie said the study showed that the Sewanhaka students were “beating the odds” – that the economically disadvantaged students in the district were doing better than the national average of those in similar circumstances.

Finally, in his post-winter sports review, Ferrie noted a number of achievements in an “exciting playoff and championship season.” These included:

Elmont Memorial – The girls basketball team was undefeated in conference play, made the state finals for the first time ever, and were ranked No. 4 in New York. Students Zhaneia Thybulle and Nkemamaka Nwabudu each scored 1,000 points. They are among only six athletes in school history to have achieved that statistic.

Coach Tom Magno was named Nassau County Coach of the Year. The boys basketball team made it to the final 4 in Nassau Class A. Track team member Malik Johnson won the News 12 Scholar Athlete Award.

Floral Park Memorial – The boys basketball team went to the county finals, only to lose to Garden City in double overtime.

Sewanhaka High – The boys basketball team made it to the final four, losing to Floral Park Memorial.

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