Outstanding students recognized by BOE

The Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, May 17th  began by recognizing several outstanding student achievements.

The District spotlighted several Garden City students who participated in the South Asian American Women’s Alliance (SAAWA) Awards, a program which encourages and promotes leadership and innovation among students in STEM fields to help build tomorrow’s workforce. 

For the earth and environmental sciences category, Sarah Phinney and Allyson Hsieh earned first place. For the biological sciences category, Katie Schneider, Mackenzie Molloy, Taylor Maguire came in third. For the physical sciences category, Josiah Sanasie and Austin Wang received an honorable mention. For the behavioral social sciences category, Amishi Sharma and Grace Kumpel received an honorable mention.

Additionally, sophomore James Nagler was spotlighted for his award winning “Project Vision,” created to assist the visually impaired in navigating their environments at this year’s Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair.

Educator Christine Levins was then recognized for receiving the 2022 STEM Star Award from the Long Island STEM Education Leadership Association. She was selected for exemplary commitment to equitable student access to high quality learning experiences in STEM.

Superintendent Dr. Kusum Sinha also shared that 117 students were inducted into national honors society on the basis of scholarship, leadership, service and character. 

Sinha then put forward the District’s recommendation for Amanda Houser as the next coordinator of music and arts effective July 1. Since 2014, Houser has worked with Garden City’s middle and high schoolers conducting choirs, preparing them for competitions, and producing and directing their shows.

The Superintendent announced some retirements as well; Thomas Dunkin, who served as a monitor for 10 years, and Debra Chapu, a bus driver of 23 years. “We really thank both of them for their years of service for our District,” she concluded. 

Attendees were reminded that this year’s extended school program will be hosted at the high school because of ongoing capital projects in other District buildings and that school will be in session on May 27th, recognizing a snow makeup day from January 7th. A notice will be sent home to parents. 

Reports from the Board 

Dr. Sinha followed up on a question from a previous meeting about a potential conflict of interest regarding the District’s new mathematics and professional development program, known as Metamorphosis, and was vetted through Eastern Suffolk BOCES. She explained that Cassaro served as a consultant until 2020, with no ownership, special interest or financial gain in the company. At the time of review and selection of new resources, there was no conflict. Therefore, she said there was no violation of the District’s conflict of interest policy. She said that when a trustee becomes aware of a conflict, it is their responsibility to recuse, which he did not. 

She then announced that the Instructional Review Committee will be recommending a  policy revision to the Board Policy Committee in the next few weeks. 15 parents serve on the committee and have given feedback on revisions and regulations that will be shared with the Board.

Trustees Tom Pinou and Matthew Wakeham gave updates from the technology committee. The committee will present at an upcoming meeting and the duo overviewed what they’ve asked the group to research and present to the Board. This includes successes that occurred at different schools at different grade levels, teacher interaction during the school day and at home, parental concerns, technology reviews outfitted for district advancement, next steps on google classroom, challenges, and more.

Stefanie Granville, Board Vice President, reported findings from the District’s Health and Safety Committee. Their current focus is on finishing and presenting a district health and safety plan to the Board during an upcoming meeting. They also discussed drills. There are yearly drill requirements, but the past two years have been interrupted with COVID modifications. The District determined that it would like to move forward with pre-pandemic drills, which is significant because some of the village’s younger students have never experienced the real thing. 

Then President Bill Holub discussed his experience at the Audit Committee, where auditors discussed plans for upcoming audits of the District’s finances along with timing. Their report will hit the Board in the late September early October timeframe. Other updates from internal auditors and a review of risk assessment are expected to come to the board in June.

The meeting went into recess to await results from the night’s election for three school board seats.  A new Board President has been named, Arthur Gnecco, along with a new Vice President, Billy O’Donahue, and a new Trustee, Joe Sileo who will be filling Michael Cassaro’s vacancy.

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