Hewlett-Woodmere School District administrators defended their response to recent concerns about this year’s , claiming that predicting the coming year’s enrollment isn’t an exact science and that the extent of oversized classes is minimal.
“While some courses have higher enrollment than others, we are very comfortable with the course size,” said Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum Laura Seinfeld at last Wednesday’s board meeting. “The high school administration works diligently to balance courses and make decisions, with some courses running with higher enrollment than others. But the vast majority of courses are running lower.”
Foreseeing how many students may move in or out of the district at the last minute after the curriculum is set seems to be another factor that makes precise enrollment predictions difficult.
“It is not a perfect system,” said Dr. Peter Weber, assistant superintendent of business. “We do a number of forecasting techniques, and we do demographic studies. The problem with a relatively small population is that there is going to be changes from year to year.”
To help manage some larger classes, three half-time teacher assistants at and four half-time teacher assistants at were recently hired.
“We have found some wonderful talent to fill these positions,” said Kathleen Anderson, assistant superintendent of human resources. “Those positions will stay in place for the remainder of the school year.”
Other topics at the meeting include:
- Joe Margolin, a Valley Stream resident and former teacher, asked how the board plans to deal with students’ disappointing state test scores in English and math.
“My objection is that we have average test results, but we have gigantically above-average school taxes,” he said. “Shouldn’t we expect the biggest bang for our buck? Hewlett-Woodmere didn’t even make it to the top 10 of schools on Long Island. We didn’t even come close.”
According to Seinfeld, the board has increased its focus on closing gaps in the curriculum, hoping to improve test scores in the future.
- The of the Siemens Math, Science and Technology Competition were introduced by Thomas Russo, principal of Hewlett High School.
“Only 300 students in the world were named semi-finalists,” he said. “Hewlett High School submitted the work of six students, and all six were named semi-finalists. That deserves a round of applause.”
The audience obliged, applauding and snapping photos of the proud group of seniors — Adam Marc, Chelsea Sidrane, Jesse Korman, Perry Goffner, Helaina Regen-Tuero and Patricia Donskoy. The group worked on plant biology projects since the beginning of 10th grade.
- Jerry Prisyon, of Valley Stream, accused the board of spending too much money on advertising the school budget election, in the form of newspaper ads and direct mail.
“I wonder if something better could be done with the $3,000,” he said. “If people’s tax money is being used, they should know why.”
Weber explained that the outreach program is important in improving low turnout at the polls.
“We would like as many members of the community to vote as possible,” he said.
Prisyon also railed against administrators’ pension benefits, especially those who work at new high-paying jobs after retiring from the district.
“I wish you would be more concerned with the cost to the district when you negotiate contracts," he said.