Jericho Union Free School District Board Of Education Meets Before New School Year


Policy surrounding use of facilities a focus of the meeting

In the last Jericho Union Free School District Board of Education meeting of the summer break, the board discussed how the district would move forward with a policy on use of school facilities, a topic that has been under discussion by the board for several months.
A motion was put forward to accept the first reading of one of the two versions of policies surrounding the use of facilities.
The policies can be found in the Aug. 14 agenda posted on on the Board of Education page. Click “Agendas and Minutes from Current Year.”
Jill Citron, the president of the board, said the goal was to adopt a policy as a base that’s open to further comment, adding that the board should move forward with version 1.
However, board trustee Samuel Perlman raised some concerns.
“Several months ago… a majority of this board made a commitment to say that we were going to better vet the use of our facilities,” Perlman said. “That was a promise I made. I heard it from [Trustee Jennifer] Vartanov, I heard it from [Trustee Dr. Christopher] Foresto. I did not hear any objections from [Vice President Dr. Divya] Balachandar, nor from Ms. Citron. That was what we said, that we believe there should be better vetting of the use of our facilities. Version 1 of this policy does not do that, in fact it goes in the opposite direction.”
Perlman had then referenced a situation where Sen. Chuck Schumer used Jericho High School as a backdrop for a televised press conference on April 6 announcing funding towards an FBI program that would prevent and detect false reports of shootings and bomb threats. Jericho Superintendent Hank Grishman and Citron were in attendance at the press conference.
Perlman had called it “political theatrics” and he argued that the board did not receive advance notice about the press conference.
“I strongly disagree with you that the event was a partisan event,” Grishman had said. “I see $25 million to support public schools and protect public schools as a non-partisan event.”
Citron said the main difference between the two policies is that in policy 2, the board makes decisions about use of facilities as opposed to the superintendent and the administration.
“Every decision that the district makes, the superintendent makes is appealable to the board,” Citron said. “To hamstring operations by saying the board makes the decisions is just ineffecient… The board always has a right to overrule a decision.”
After much debate and arguing, the board adopted version 1 for discussion.
The policy, as it stands, authorizes the superintendent to make decisions about the use of district facilities. It also requires non-community based groups to receive written permission from the superintendent to use school facilities. The superintendent, under the policy, has to notify the board in a timely matter of every decision to approve the use o school district facilities by non-community groups.

Update On Renovations At Jericho Schools
During the meeting, Victor Manuel, the assistant superintendent of business affairs, provided an update on the multiple construction projects happening around the district.
“If you just look outside the [Jericho Middle School] lobby, we took down the canopies that were getting pretty rotted,” Manuel said. “This summer we’re in the process of getting rid of all that… and setting up for the new canopies that are going to come in the fall. This will be all set up for the opening of school, and safe to enter and exit from that area.”
There were also major renovations done to the middle school science and art rooms over the summer.
“At this point the ceiling, lighting, flooring and all the case work has been delivered and installed,” Manuel said. “That will probably go up to the end of next week, with some punch list items and substantial completion by then. We do have two pieces of equipment, the univents [unit ventilators] for two of the classrooms, that were supposed to arrive at the beginning of August. We just found out and learned that it will be [in] September. In the meantime we’re going to put air conditioning units in those two classrooms to get us through until the univents arrive.”
The roofing project at the middle and high schools is substantially completed.
“There’s still a little work, but for the most part, complete,” Manuel said. “The locker rooms are in the process, and the pool roof… we are in the process of finding out about an issue with that particular roof, [the pool roof].”
Manuel added that the district is in the process of getting appropriate materials to attach to the pool roof, “and then go from there.”
“We should have enough money in the contract in order to move forward with it,” Manuel said. “We lost probably a week once it was discovered to figure out the right way to progress. They are going to cover the pool tomorrow and on Wednesday begin that portion of the project. The 28th is going to be tight, without a doubt. But it only affects the swimming pool area. We’re hopeful that it’s done by the 28th.”
The partitions in three of the elementary school gyms are complete.
“They’re still working on the kitchen hoods, to put new ones in,” Manuel said. “We’re pretty confident that will be complete by the opening of school.”

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