The Sayville Board of Education held its monthly meeting on Wednesday and Dr. Walter Schartner was sworn in by the board as the new superintendent. Dr. Schartner, with just three days officially on the job, replaces Dr. Rosemary Jones, who retired from the position on June 30, after more than 13 years.
Newly elected board members Norman de Venau and Maureen Dolan were also sworn in. Nominations followed for the president and vice president of the Board of Education; Deborah Van Essendelft was named president and Maureen Dolan took the vice president position.
Dr. Sullivan Keck, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, presented an update on the secondary summer school program. The 221 students enrolled represent a marked increase over last year's enrollment of 170 (30 of which were out of district). Sixty-one of those students will be taking the Regents exam.
One of the topics mentioned during the board discussion was the school calendar and whether to continue to offer it in print or only online. With nearly $7,000 in printing costs, not including postage, which is set to increase, the board decided to do a trial year of an online-only calendar.
Another noteworthy topic of discussion was price increases in school lunches. The board voted for a $0.15 price increase in elementary and secondary lunches, but it has not yet been approved. The slight increase was made for a few reasons. First, there was a $54,000 deficit in the food budget last year and it was necessary to raise prices to keep the segment viable. Secondly, a full-time cook was added to the high school, so this will offset some of the added expense. Lastly, the high school cafeteria is getting a makeover to a food court style, and with a closed campus policy instituted next year, it will automatically mean more participation in the lunch program.
At the public hearing, the topic of discussion was the elimination of one fourth grade classroom at Cherry Avenue school. Many parents were in attendance to voice their concerns. "When the class size goes up, the level of success goes down," said Noreen Howland, parent of an incoming fourth grader. She presented a few alternatives, such as ramping up teaching assistants in those classrooms.
"Unfortunately, our hands are tied, unless we get money and there isn't anymore money to give," said board member Maureen Dolan, who added that none of the choices the board made were easy ones. "Federal aid and Albany are both a mess right now and next year could be scarier," she added.
The board members also advised parents to speak to their local legislators and voice their concerns about what their school is not getting. "We have never had a year where there has been a need that the board has not addressed," Van Essendelft said. Both Van Essendelft and Dr. Schartner offered to set up a meeting with parents to go over some ideas that may be a little out of the box, but could provide some alternatives for these fourth graders.
The next Board of Education meeting was set for August 25 with public session at 7 p.m. The September workshop will be held on Tuesday, September 7, with the business meeting taking the place the following week, September 16.