Board of Ed Celebrates Vision, Talks Budget

A troop of local boy scouts marched into the district office boardroom on Jan. 12, leading the assembled members of the East Islip community in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Continuing the spirited mood of this monthly Board of Education meeting, Superintendent of Schools John J. Finello then gave a detailed, informative and inspiring presentation on the state of the district – its mission, vision and beliefs. "We have a strong educational program," he noted, emphasizing such elements as a rigorous, purposeful curriculum, instilling college and career readiness in East Islip's high school students, producing life-long learners and productive, responsible citizens, and working toward a higher level of student achievement. Goals mentioned included the Common Core Standards, a district tech plan, RTI plan, senior experience internships, new career and technical programs, increased honors and AP enrollments and the introduction of pre-calculus and calculus courses. "Refreshing and delightful" was Board President Glenn Reed's assessment of the presentation.

One of the other goals mentioned was the implementation of a third Career Academy at East Islip High School. Principal William Brennen took the floor to advocate for the new Medical and Health Technology Career Academy, and to discuss the ongoing benefits of the Career Academy program in general. Brennen noted that Career Academy participants improved their grades by over two points, as well as their attendance. "Career Academies prepare our kids for challenges," he said.

Next up was the announcement that Timber Point Elementary School had been nominated for the 2012 National Blue Ribbon School award, one of only 19 in New York State. The National Blue Ribbon School program honors schools that rank among the highest performing schools in their state, based on state assessments (in this case, the 2011 ELA and math test scores).

A quartet of notable donations were then announced. The East Islip Middle School Tri-M Music Honor Society raised $536.50 for middle school sports, the Connetquot Playground Committee donated $37,091.70 for a playground upgrade, the For the Kids Foundation (FTK) of East Islip provided $50,000 to expand academic and student experiences, and the EJ Autism Foundation donated $5000 in materials and programs.
Assistant Superintendent for Business Carl Fraser and Finello then devoted significant time to the very important issue of the upcoming school budget and the impact of New York State's property tax levy cap. Fraser noted that what has been popularly deemed a 2 percent cap, is actually variable for each school depending on what is called the tax-based growth factor. He estimated that East Islip's cap may in fact be around 3 percent. After further discussion with community members who addressed the board, the district administration and Board of Education expressed their wish for an ongoing budget dialogue with the community, and recommended that all East Islip residents attend the upcoming public budget meeting on Jan. 31.

The next Board of Education meeting will take place on Feb. 9, 2012.