Budget, levy increase lowest in years

Elaine Kanas

Budget  – As I’ve mentioned before in my newsletters, the Board of Education adopted a 2015-16 school budget on March 30, 2015. The budget-to-budget increase is 1.68 percent and the levy-to-levy increase is 1.80 percent, both are the lowest increases in the last 20 years and fall below the New York State allowable property tax cap.

For full budget information, including the presentations given at our budget workshops, go to the district website at www.ewsdonline.org > scroll down the left-side navigation bar and click on 15-16 Budget Info.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me at kanase@ewsdonline.org or by phone at 333-3758 or Robin Lufrano, Acting Assistant Superintendent for Business at lufranor@ewsdonline.org or by phone at 333-1707.

The school district vote is on Tuesday, May 19 between 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. in the Wheatley gymnasium.

Wow: Congratulations North Side Students, Families, Staff and PTO

With my office at Wheatley I see many examples of our high school students engaged in projects and activities designed to help others.  These activities demonstrate the well-rounded students our parents, school and community together support, where compassion and a broader understanding of the world are developed along with academic understandings.

The foundation for caring starts early and builds throughout the school years.  The PTO sponsored food drive at North Side just collected 1,171 items to donate to the Interfaith Nutrition Network (The INN).  Congratulations all North Side students (and their families) and a special mention to the third grade that won recognition for collecting the most items!    

Ongoing Staff Development

Last week I mentioned that along with other administrators and the teachers providing Leveled Literacy Intervention I participated in a day long workshop on the program. At the same time that we identify district-wide instructional goals to be accomplished each year, we also identify the professional development resources that will help us accomplish these goals.  

While LLI was introduced into the elementary school in previous years, it was implemented in the middle school and the high school for the first time this year.  At the start of the school year, teachers and administrators participated in two days of LLI training.  

After some months of experience working with the program with our students, the trainer returned for a third staff development session to check on implementation and respond to staff questions.  This last workshop, as we get close to the end of the school year, provided the staff with the opportunity to reflect on this year’s implementation with students, share ideas and insights with colleagues and make some refinements for next year.  

We follow similar patterns of sustained staff development for new initiatives in order to support thoughtful, professional and collaborative implementation.

 LLI is one of the response to interventions the District offers to close grade level reading gaps.  It combines reading, writing, phonics and word study and is provided to students in groups of four or less, every day.   

It encourages students to build higher comprehension skills that involve more than simple retelling, but, more importantly, get students to think critically about and beyond the text.  All our staff (and students too, it seems) agree that the books that the students use in the program are high interest and entertaining, with the non-fiction books on particularly popular and attention getting topics. 

Early next school year we look forward to holding a Board of Education Work Session on our literacy programs and support interventions such as LLI.       

BOE Work Session

held on May 6

At the May Board of Education Work Session, Tom Fitzpatrick, director of physical education, athletics, health and medical services, presented information regarding new State Education Department  guidelines for the Athletic Placement Process. 

The APP sets standards and criteria for permitting students to compete at a level of competition deemed appropriate for their physiological maturity, physical fitness and skill level in relationship to other students at the desired level of competition.  

Also at Wednesday’s Work Session, Dave Casamento, director of science and technology, presented the proposed Disaster Recovery Plan that is on Monday’s Board of Education monthly business meeting agenda for approval.  

A disaster recovery plan addresses the need, in case of natural or other disaster, for the East Williston School District to be back in operation and functioning in all areas – business, security, education and management – as soon as possible. To devise a comprehensive Disaster Recovery Plan as it pertains to technology and data, the Director of Science and Technology along with the Technology Team developed the recommended plan. 

Finally, on behalf of the multicultural steering committee, I presented an overview of past meetings and planned activities as described below. 

Multicultural Project – 

Alive and Well!

As you know, we needed to cancel the multicultural fair that had been originally set for May 31s due to a scheduling conflict with a Town of North Hempstead event our district is very involved in.  

However … the Educational Advisory Committee’s  focus on the richness of our community’s diversity is moving full steam ahead!  

The Multicultural Steering Committee met last week and here are some of the meeting highlights:

•Multicultural Survey – Thank you to the parents at North Side and Willets Road who, to date, have answered the brief online survey.   

In addition to finding out the many countries of origin, ranging from families brand new to the United States to ancestors who arrived here many generations ago, the survey also seeks to identify many of our parents who speak another language and would be comfortable helping translate and welcoming new families not fully comfortable in the English language.  

If you have not answered the survey yet, please go to the following link  https://docs.google.com/a/ewsdmail.org/forms/d/1b2irB7HMMT5hk9ZcWOMfF0gIGbsAKItidtJxEyi0YHA/viewform 

It is extremely quick.  We will be starting to put our country of origin flags on the website and in our buildings.  Make sure yours is there! (At Wheatley, the students, rather than the parents, will be completing the survey.)

• Planning of three dinners, for next year, to be held in district, that will feature learning about a particular culture.  A similar project that originated in the Herricks School District, many years ago, was shared.  Teachers and parents attended small dinners featuring a particular culture, with some learning taking place before the dinner.  

The steering committee will be sharing this idea for planning with the EAC at its next meeting. I will keep you posted with details. 

• Students on the Committee are working with faculty committee member Karen Bartscherer and parent member Barbara Creamer to identify one or more charitable projects that have a global reach that could be supported at various events next year, as coordinated with building administrations, staff and student organizations. 

Earth Day at Wheatley

As I mentioned in last week’s newsletter, Wheatley’s Environmental Action Committee sponsored activities related to Earth Day.  

As part of the activities, Bob DiBenedetto (from Healthy Planet) spoke to students about how food choices impact one’s heart and visitor Carl Flatow set himself up in the courtyard with a live bee hive for students to observe and learn about. The lobby was filled with informational booths and activities related to preserving a healthy environment, manned by our students.  

One of the booths encouraged students and staff to make a pledge to do something positive for the environment. The pledges, written on leaves, hung on a ‘pledge tree’ for all to see. The tree was packed with commitments!  Living close to Hempstead Harbor, I pledged to learn more about how to keep it clean and safe.  (Inspired by the students’ enthusiasm and commitment, I attended a meeting of the Save Hempstead Harbor not-for-profit organization that very weekend).  

Congratulations to faculty advisor Steve Finkelstein for his work with our students, and his advisement of the Environmental Action Committee.   

Congratulations and Commendations 

Wheatley Senior Receives 

Presidential Volunteer

Service Award

Wheatley senior Kieran Schnur has recently been honored with a President’s Volunteer Service Award.

The award, which recognizes Americans of all ages who have volunteered significant amounts of their time to serve their communities and their country, was granted by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program on behalf of President Barack Obama. Wheatley nominated Kieran for national honors this fall in recognition of his volunteer service.

Kieran earned this recognition for the hundreds of hours he has spent devoted to educating youths about Type 1 Diabetes. 

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, sponsored by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals, recognizes middle level and high school students across America for outstanding volunteer service.

Willets Road Artists 

on Display

Congratulations to our Willets Road students who were selected to have their artwork on display at the East Williston Public Library throughout the month of May.  The displayed artwork comes from each of the art classes offered at Willets Road, Grade 5 Art, Grade 6 Art and electives Grade 6 & 7 Drawing & Painting, Grade 6 & 7 Studio Art, Grade 6 & 7 Digital Photography and Grade 7 Sculpture.

Grade 5: Katherine DeSarno, Charlotte Iannone and Morenike Oshodi

Grade 6:  Bari Bergstein, Nadav Cohen, Jack Fiorillo, Kaileigh Fiorillo, Shruti Goyal, Colin Liotta, Olivia Palmieri, Kylie Ramalhete, Avani Rambharose, Neil Shah, Matthew Valle, Brianna Werny, Gabriel Westreich and Elizabeth Yuen

Grade 7: Peter Cuomo, Miriam Goher, Emily Gothelf, Allison Keller, Madison Ramos, Kiran Shaikh, Amanda Ustick and Allison Zheng

A special thank you to our Willets Road art teachers Colette Hardy and Melinda Gomez.

Wheatley Spring Varsity Athletic 

Teams Honored for Academics 

and Become School of Distinction

Congratulations to our Spring Varsity teams who were all honored for their outstanding accomplishments and named New York State Scholar-Athlete Teams. 

Congratulations to the student-athletes and the coaches of Girls Track (cumulative GPA 99.175), Boys Track (cumulative GPA 97.823), Golf (cumulative GPA 96.064), Boys Tennis (cumulative GPA 94.919), Girls Lacrosse (cumulative GPA 94.477), 

Softball (cumulative GPA 93.554), Baseball (cumulative GPA 92.835) and Boys Lacrosse (cumulative GPA 92.448).

With this year’s combined success of all our varsity teams, fall, winter and spring teams named NYS Scholar-Athlete Teams, Wheatley will once again be recognized as a School of Distinction by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association.

Brainstormers Team Competes

in National History Bee and Bowl

Four members of Wheatley’s Brainstormers team competed against quiz bowl teams from across the United States in the National History Bee and Bowl Competition in Washington D.C. in April.  

The weekend’s activities included many competitions with junior Mohammed Khanzada placing third nationally in the National Sports & Entertainment Bee.  After competing in 10 rounds in the National History Bee, the team took home first place honors in the National History Bowl Consolation Tournament.  

Congratulation to team members, juniors Gabriel Besada, Luke Cuomo, Mohammad Khanzada and Jake Williams and Brainstormer advisor, Joseph Crotty.

Wheatley Math Students 

Shine at Math Fair

On April 24, 16 Wheatley students competed in the final round of the Nassau County Mathematics Fair at Hofstra University against students from across the county. 

As part of our Mathematics Research Program, students had been working on their research papers for the past several months, including presentations at the qualifying round of the fair in February.

Congratulations to the following students who were invited to compete in the final round:

9th Grade:

• Sufia Ainechi, “Golden Ratio”

10th Grade:

• Abdullah Hassan, “Space Travel”

• Ashley Lessen, “Magic Squares”

• Gil Lotzky, “Game Theory”

11th Grade:

• Ron Aldad, “Black-Scholes Option Pricing Model”

• Krista Chen, “The Candy Sharing Problem”

• Arihant Jain, “Random Number Generator”

• Mohammad Khanzada, “Graphically Applying Differential Calculus to Determine Internal Force and Bending Moment Diagrams”

• Andrew Zuckerman, “Data Compression and Huffman Coding”

12th Grade:

• Michael Braunstein, “I Bet My Math Teacher I Could Solve This Unsolved Problem”

• David Fisher, “Synthetic Multiplication”

• Anthony Graffigna, “Mathematics Behind Light and Sound Waves”

• Hebah Hassan, “Mazes”

• Arjun Kapoor, “The Search for a Symmetric Latency Optimal Interconnection”

• Ziv Lotzky, “DeMoivre’s Theorem”

• Seung Min Yi, “Markov Chains”

Congratulations to our three gold medalists, Gil Lotzky, Andrew Zuckerman and Ziv Lotzky. 

Congratulations to our four silver medalists, Sufia Ainechi, Ashley Lessen, Krista Chen and Ari Jain. Congratulations to our seven bronze medalists Abdullah Hassan, Ron Aldad, Mohammad Khanzada, Michael Braunstein, David Fisher, Anthony Graffigna and Seung Min Yi.

A special thank you and congratulations to Wheatley Math teacher Kevin Meyers and Secondary Chair of Mathematics Dr. Jeffrey Lesser who work with our independent math research students throughout the year.

A thank you to members of the Wheatley mathematics department who served as tournament judges for this event: Kevin Meyers, Jon Dinowitz and Peter Crisci.

Have a Good Weekend

As always, please email me at kanase@ewsdonline.org or call me at 333-3758 with any questions, suggestions and/or any topics you would like to see in this newsletter.

About the author

Elaine Kanas

Share this Article