East Williston school board approves 2018-19 calendar

Rebecca Klar
Bert Cumming, a Wheatley School student, presented to the East Williston board of education about his School-Within-a-School class's recent collaboration with Life Skills students. (Photo by Rebecca Klar)

The East Williston Board of Education decided on the 2018-19 school calendar in a unanimous vote at Monday’s meeting.

The 182-day school year will begin on Sept. 4, following Labor Day, and end on June 28.

It includes days off for the holidays the district typically follows, including Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Columbus Day and Diwali.

There is also a week off in February and in April.

One change in this calendar is a day off for Election Day.

Members of the district had previously exprested concern over the safety of the students at school while it is used as a polling place, with people going in and out throughout the day.

Board President Mark Kamberg said the decision was to ensure the board does its best to “keep our buildings as safe as possible.”

“Until Nassau County responds to school district requests all across Long Island which is to remove elections from public facilities such as schools … this district has no choice but to respond as best we can to close our facilities when the opportunity presents,” Kamberg said.

The consequence, is the year going further into June, Kamberg said.

Another calendar draft the board considered ended a day earlier, on June 27, but would have been open on Election Day.

The calendar is also able to extend further into June because the state extended the Regents timeline, Kamberg said.

The longer year allowed the board to give time off for the holidays typically observed by the district, even in a tight calendar year, Trustee Robert Fallarino said.

Fallarino said that this year was particularly challenging because almost none of the holidays the district observes as days off fell on weekends.

There are also three snow days allotted in the calendar; make-up days will first be taken from the February break. If the additional snow days fall after the February break, the make-up days will be taken from the April break.

During the meeting the board also heard a presentation from students in the School-Within-a-School program about a recent collaboration with Life Skills students.

The School-Within-a-School program is an option for Wheatley students to learn in an alternative setting.

Students take their required social studies classes in the traditional school, and the last three periods of the day are devoted to School-Within-a-School curriculum.

The program consists of five English and three social science teachers that teach a range of courses on topics ranging form work ethics to Shakespeare.

On Wednesdays, rather than academic classes, the students participate in meetings and leadership opportunities.

The group of students presenting recently spent their time cooking with Life Skills students, creating 30-minute meals in the model of the Rachael Ray show.

Bert Cumming, one of School-Within-a-School students, said the program was great because it allowed both sets of students to get to know each other.

Gena Topping, the teacher of this School-Within-a-School class, said it helped all the students learn to converse better.

“Phones were away, they had to make eye contact with one another,” Topping said. “That’s a challenge for most human beings nowadays, and it’s not about any sort of learning disability it’s just the phones. So it was really lovely.”

Topping said the Life Skills students also became more “confident in who they are,” by talking with their peers.

The program also had an added bonus for some of her students, Topping said.

It taught them how to wash dishes – which she said a surprising number didn’t know how to do.

The students from both classes ended the project by writing a letter to Rachael Ray, inviting the celebrity chef to their upcoming Garden Party.

So far, no response from Ray.




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