Tuesday night’s meeting of the East Hampton School Board was business as usual, as board members listened to a presentation related to state test scores, updated audience members concerning the district’s recent security audit, and reinstated its adult education program for the fall semester, among other highlights.
In February, in the wake of the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., the board hired Michael J. Guido Jr., a Rocky Point architect, to perform “security audits” at each of the district’s three schools. The cost was $18,000.
Patricia Hope, the board’s president, said the district recently received a final report from Mr. Guido and had divided the list into “things that cost money and things that don’t.”
While she “couldn’t publish a document that highlighted gaps in the district’s security,” she said that the schools are “filling in the gaps as quickly as we can.” Those that do not cost money are being addressed promptly. Such common-sense fixes, she said, were easy to institute, but a time frame for undertaking the changes that cost money has yet to be determined.
“We want to inform the public of everything possible at every point,” said Ms. Hope.
In the meantime, Kim Jones, a parent of two at John M. Marshall Elementary School, urged increased security protocols for the Project MOST after-school program there. When she recently picked up her nephew, whose skin color is different from her own, she was not required to show any form of identification. “If I can walk in and take out a Caucasian little boy without anyone asking any questions, that’s scary.”
Following her remarks, Jackie Lowey, a board member, urged that Project MOST be included in the district’s plans for increased security.
Also on Tuesday, Robert Tymann, the district’s assistant superintendent, and Elizabeth Doyle, the principal of John Marshall, jointly led a presentation related to the school’s recent performance on the New York State math and English language arts tests. The scores were released in August.
“As you saw in the papers, everyone went down,” said Mr. Tymann. Performance at John Marshall varied widely, with some grades performing at the state average, while others scored far below it.
In past years, any student who scored a 1 or a 2 (with a score of 4 being the highest), received additional support. But this year, following changes to the test, only students who scored a 1 will receive pullout services. Those who scored a 2 will now receive in-class remediation.
Mr. Tymann assuaged fears from both board members and parents concerning the fairly widespread practice of teaching to the test. Since changes had been made to the yearly exam, with multiple-choice questions apparently made less predictable, he said the district would focus on teaching to state standards, rather than to an exam.
Ms. Doyle echoed his sentiment. “We’re making sure our kids are being challenged and that they’re getting what they need,” she said, pointing out that last year the elementary school simultaneously switched both its math and English language arts curriculums. “It’s about continuous improvement. This year our goals are about going deeper and refining our instructional practice.”
In other news, the board quelled rumors that a homework club, which provides after-school tutoring at the elementary school, would be canceled, but did say that modifications are being considered.
Richard Burns, the superintendent, said the program was not being cut but that going forward, the district would partner with Project MOST, a nonprofit that provides after-school enrichment activities. Organizers hope to make the homework club, which lasts until 4 p.m., more structured. Currently, it offers help to three sections of 18 students apiece on a first-come, first-served basis. The district is also looking to hire additional bilingual teachers for the program. Should more sections be needed, though, additional money would be required.
Later in the meeting, Bridget LeRoy, the district’s communications consultant, announced that the adult education program, after running a six-week pilot last year, would begin again shortly. Most classes, which range from acting to bridge to computer tutorials, including several others, will run from early October to mid-December on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings.