Board of Education announces student opportunities and improvements to infrastructure
By Ida Ynner Lagerqvist
At their monthly meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 13, the Hicksville School District Board of Education held its regular monthly meeting. Besides approval of business and finance motions and presentations of committee reports, most time was spent on the superintendent’s report, which included discussion of a school climate survey and the presentation of a community partnership with Broadway Commons.
Superintendent of Schools Marianne Litzman announced a partnership between the school district and Broadway Commons that will give students interested in business the opportunity to work as interns in the business offices at the mall.
“There is a whole world of the workings of the Commons that shoppers wouldn’t know about, but it is a real-estate business and management and it will provide opportunities for our student interns who are interested in that and going into those types of careers,” Litzman said. The partnership will also give students a chance to exhibit artwork, mural work and to perform music and theater acts at the mall’s many public areas. “We are very fortunate and very grateful for the Commons to be reaching out to us and to be able to offer more experiences for our students.”
Another main part of Litzman’s report was the school district’s initiative to administer a school climate survey. In November, a survey was administrated to students in grades five through 12, parents of students in grades K through 12 and instructional and noninstructional staff of all grades. The results are back and the communications committee and the safety committee are working on a format to present the results to the public. During this presentation, the first and only comment of the meeting was made by an attendee in the audience. The attendee gave the board a recommendation to create different formats for the results of the surveys depending on what they will be used for.
“I know some of it is used for different requirements for funding, et cetera. What you would use for that is probably not appropriate for parents,” the attendee said.
The school climate survey is a part of the action plan for the district’s human resource goal. It strives to create an environment that encourages all employees to be supportive of student educational needs, safety, mental health and well-being.
“We know that safe environments and meaningful relationships ensure success not only for our students academically, but socially and emotionally,” Litzman said.
The climate survey is not the district’s only ongoing action to ensure students’ well-being. Teachers have been trained at the secondary level in mindfulness, schools will be a part of social and emotional learning programs, inclusion of mental health literacy in daily classroom practice is being introduced and the safety committee is exploring the possibility of the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) mental health services delivery in cooperation with the New York State Education Department, which has a new mental health initiative, according to Litzman.
“We do know that there is a terrible rise in students’ mental health crisis,” she said. “I think it’s our responsibility to support them.”
In addition to the superintendent’s report, vice president and facilities and safety committee chair Brenda Judson reported on facilities at the board meeting. She announced an agreement regarding six new tennis courts that will be constructed this summer. They will be repositioned behind the administration building. The existing tennis court area will be used as a laydown area for construction materials and then turned into additional parking.
Besides new tennis courts, 41 crosswalks within the district will get paint refreshing during the spring and summer months, according to Judson.
Judson also reported on a revision of the school meetings calendar. The goal is to create a consistent schedule for all types of meetings.
“Some meetings, like budgeting and curriculum, are always on a certain day every month and a certain time. Other meetings, like facilities, policy, safety and now communication, can be all over the place,” Judson said. “It’s difficult for parents and other community members that are interested in attending to know when they occur.”
Another topic the communications committee discussed is a new possible feature on the website called Meeting Highlights, which will allow the public to access the most significant parts from the meetings.
The Hicksville School District Board of Education’s next regular meeting will be held on March 20, at 8:30 p.m. in the Administration Building adjacent to Hicksville High School.
Ida Ynner Lagerqvist is a journalism student at LIU Post.