Mineola weighs opening schools on Election Day

The Island Now
Mineola school Superintendent Michael Nagler discussed the plan to reopen Mineola Public Schools in the fall. (Courtesy Mineola Public Schools)

By Samuel Glasser

Mineola schools would be open on Election Day next year under a revised calendar Superintendent Michael Nagler proposed at last Thursday’s school board meeting.

Nagler’s recommendations for the 2017-2018 school year also have school opening after Labor Day and a four-day Memorial Day weekend for students.

Classes have been in session on Election Day in other years, even though “it’s not typical,” Nagler said.

The proposal includes moving a professional development day for teachers from Election Day to May 25, the Friday before Memorial Day.

This would give the district flexibility should it need a snow day in addition to the two already built into the schedule, Nagler said.

“If we need it, we would bring the children in on May 25,” he said.

The district needs 182 instructional days and two faculty conference days. Classes can start as early as Sept. 1 and must end by the last day of state Regents exams for high schoolers, which fall on June 22 next year.

Nagler said the board is trying to make up the calendar presuming that school starts after Labor Day.

While Mineola schools have opened before Labor Day for the last two years, Nagler has acknowledged this is an important issue for many families since their summer vacation plans are contingent on a post-Labor Day school opening.

Also on Thursday, Nagler said the board’s contract talks with the Mineola Teachers Association are at an impasse and the parties are waiting for a new mediator to be named.

The teachers’ contract expired in June 2015. The issues are annual salary raises, increased health insurance premiums and proposed cutbacks in personal and sick days.

The board also acknowledged four Mineola High School juniors who were winners of the 2016 Congressional App Challenge, held in cooperation with the Internet Education Foundation.

Bryan Guda, Vincent Rodrigues, Joseph Mueller and Malcolm Hylton were cited for their development of CiaChow, an application that matches people who are willing to dog-sit with dog owners who need the service.

The students also participate in a two-year certificate program in cooperation with Queensborough Community College that gives them the opportunity to earn 30 college credits.

Whittney Smith, principal of Mineola High School, said the students, who are all interested in computer science, “have a passion in an area that’s untapped.”

The four will go to Washington, D.C., in April and present their application to U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City).

The competition is a congressional initiative to encourage student interest in computer science.

More than 2,100 students from 120 congressional districts participated in the 15-week regional competitions, submitting more than 650 original student-created apps.

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