BY VINNY MURPHY
The August 16 Board of Education meeting for the Clarkstown Central School District opened with a hopeful message from President Joe Maglieri. He stated that Superintendent Dr. J. Thomas Morton had “ushered in a new era” and that in response to past meetings, the board would strive to maintain civility and integrity. He also stated that the board “will not tolerate nastiness.”
With no reports from the board, the agenda was dominated by personnel approvals for the coming school year. Notably, the board accepted the resignation of Dianne Basso, who will be retiring from her position of Campus Principal at Felix Festa Middle School at this school years end. They also accepted the resignation of Karen Alvey, Coordinator of English Language Arts/Social Studies K-12, which will also go into effect at the end of the coming school year.
Outside of personnel changes, the board addressed changes in the lunchroom. The board accepted a plan to raise the prices of breakfast/ lunch in the district. In the coming year, Elementary breakfast will go from $1.00 to $1.50 and Lunch from $2.30 to $2.50. In the secondary schools, breakfast will remain at $1.50 while lunch will be raised to $2.70.
The board also began work on developing a policy to regulate a growing debt caused by children who are unable to pay for lunch. While the board is seeking to create an economical solution while still being able to feed children without charge, the debt caused by delinquent charges has grown to approximately $15,000.
Though the plan itself has yet to be developed, Assistant Superintendent of Business John LaNave acknowledged that some of it should be taken care of by the standing commitment to “Free and Reduced” programs and that social workers have been mobilized to spread the word. The board also approved what Malgieri called a “long time coming” bus fueling station replacement project. After announcing that residents will see a 2.1 percent tax increase, less that the 2.3 percent cap, the meeting moved on to public comments.
Clarkstown North PTSA President Dorothy Atzl brought attention to a couple of issues plaguing the school. First, she cited a problem with flocks of geese, who leave the school’s fields unsanitary. She then brought up numerous vandalism issues on the campus, and expressed her concern over the lack of security. Malgieri acknowledged both problems, and confirmed that the board was aware and had been acting on solving these issues.
As the comments continued, the Board was confronted by a notable contingent representing the New York Sharks Swim Team. Many members of the team felt that the contract approved at the board’s July 2 meeting denied the team of reasonable scheduling for practices at Felix Festa Middle School and that the contract was rushed through. Part of this conflict comes from the fact that another swim team, the New York Condors, also uses the facility.
In the current version of the agreement, the Sharks would be expected to practice later in the evening than their counterparts. As one student expressed, this can cause a conflict between his devotion to swimming, and his devotion to school work. Others cited suspicions that the Condors received favorable treatment due to Board Member Robert Allan Carlucci’s association with the team.
Maglieri addressed that concern, stating that Carlucci was not allowed to vote on the contract with the Condors. Sharks owner Todd Langenmayr also spoke at the meeting, noting that the Sharks had yet to sign the contract, and that he felt it reasonable to renegotiate both with the Board and the Condors organization.