ImPORTant Updates: School Board Budget Meeting March 7th


Michael Puglisi

The board has recently begun discussing the school budget for the 2019-2020 school year.  After last meeting’s budget overview, they moved to discussing the budget for custodial maintenance, transportation, and proposed a new security measure for school entry at the high school.


The board brought in those in charge of the various departments within the school to explain what they were requesting and why they needed it.  On the maintenance front, the school is hoping to get 20 upright industrial vacuums, three Imops, two burnishers, two ride-on auto-scrubbers, and five new “hydration stations”, or the new filtered water fountains for the elementary schools. These water fountains are to be distributed around the schools in the district. For outdoor maintenance, requested are walk behind mowers, a utility truck, five snow blowers, bed trailer, and a few more. The school is also including one diesel bus for longer distance trips.


But one of the most major new projects mentioned in the budget is a new ScholarChip ID card reading system to be introduced to the high school. Card reading kiosks will be placed in the three entry points (which is being reduced from the 4 this year). These kiosks will require a student to slide their card in before entering the school. The kiosks can handle 56 students per minute. On the other side of a kiosk is a computer screen monitored by a security guard. The kiosks will inform the guard if a retired ID card is used, and will also display a picture of the student who the card is representing on the screen, allowing the guard to easily ascertain if a student is using another card. The system also makes a note of repeated misplacement of their ID card.The kiosks are mobile, and after the morning rush, they are switched into tardy mode. They will print out a late pass showing when the card was scanned, preventing further delays on getting to class. They will also be moved to monitor the bathrooms and lunch rooms, to ensure nobody is taken extra long bathroom breaks, and to ensure those in the lunch rooms actually have a lunch. These kiosks upload data immediately to a storage facility, so it is much less hackable.


Other new security-related purchases will be license plate readers, which will enhance view on incoming license plates, but do not have immediate identification. They can be programmed to send an alert if a certain license plate is seen. Sixty-two new cameras are being outfitted district wide.

The board then entertained a few community questions on the budget, though there is no formal comments section. Some are wondering what grants the district can apply for, whether cameras are monitored live (they are not). Another asks if the walking distance to the school will change, which is said to be a matter that would need a voter referendum.


Moving on to the second read of policies, the one that merited the most discussion was the playing up policy. This policy described the process of middle school athletes of exceptional ability playing in varsity or junior varsity teams. Some in the audience felt the policy was not up to snuff, saying that the process should be coach driven, as the language currently made it a more student and parent-centric decision than it should be. They also felt that this policy detracted from 8th and 7th grade teams where kids utilizing the policy would be playing up from. There was also much debate onto the exact specification of some of the language describing outstanding play. Finally, after much deliberation,Trustee Badanes makes a motion to table the policy, which Vice President of the Board Stein seconds. The policy is tabled. The next policy on soliciting funds from students, passes with very little fanfare.


With equally little deliberation was the superintendent’s financial report, all of which was passed. Next was a letter that the New York State School Board Association urged to be sent to legislators at the state level, who are voting to pass a budget minimizing school budgets statewide. Trustee Noonan suggests a wording change to make this particular copy of the letter more specific to the Northport-East Northport school district. This is approved, and President of the Board Rapiejko agrees to sign it for the board. The meeting adjourns.