Freeport schools honor school board members


In New York state, October is set aside as School Board Recognition Month, and so a large part of the October 16 meeting of the Freeport School Board at Bayview School was devoted to that purpose. Above the dais were pictures drawn by Bayview students of each of the board members (although trustee Anthony Miller noted that he was “a little younger than he is now” in his picture.

And for the presentation by Bayview students, they dressed up as characters from the movie “Grease” and sang the song “We go together” in tribute.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kishore Kuncham thanked the school board for their service, noting that that they “support the educational values of the community.” As volunteers, they do many things – attend meetings and conferences and study educational issues. Dr. Kuncham observed that the school board members make difficult choices, and have more to make in the future.

Tributes came in from others in the district – Archer Principal Paula Lein represented Freeport administrators, who made a donation to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital in the board’s name. The Freeport Teachers Association contributed to the Freeport Memorial Children’s Library, and the teacher’s aides and assistants, office staff, food service workers and PTA Council recognized the board members’ work. Certificates came from Mayor Robert Kennedy and the Village Board.

Mind the gap

After a 10-minute break, the board got on to more serious matters. Trustee Ron Ellerbe gave a legislative committee report, briefly discussing the proposed resolutions for a convention of the New York State School Boards Association. Of particular concern to the NYSSBA is the so-called Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA), which has taken $1 billion in aid from Long Island Schools and cost Freeport over $30 million over four years. Mr. Ellerbe spoke about his wish to stage a legislative forum, at which Long Island elected officials concerned with educational funding can hear school board members’ concerns regarding the GEA and other educational financial issues.

The audit committee noted the receipt of a clean audit report at the previous meeting.

While on the subject of money, Dr. Kuncham informed the board that a physical education grant has been received from the U.S. Department of Education for $700,000 over three years, and that a grant received by Hofstra University will help Freeport with community school enrichment. Congratulations were offered to Brooke Baker, who received a large scholarship from Nordstrom, and the marching band for its performance at the recent Newsday Band Festival.

Items for action

The board approved a field trip to Rochester, New York for members of the Select Chorale to participate in the NYSSMA All-State Conference Festival. A field trip to tour SUNY colleges and Universities in Binghamton, Brockport, Buffalo Cortland, Geneseo and Syracuse was also approved.

The district agreed to contract with Verizon Fios for the broadcast of certain school sports events. The district would also receive a $5,000 donation from Fios.

In public comment, Michele Galdamez asked when youth programs would be able to use the turf field at the high school. Board preseident Debra Mulé responded that no one outside the schools has used it thus far, but that the district is in the process of coming up with a set of rules and procedures enabling outside organization to use it.

The next meeting of the Freeport Board of Education will be held on Wednesday, November 6 at Atkinson School.