Floral Park-Bellerose school district officials said they are optimistic about potential changes to the state’s school foundation aid formula on Thursday, following a lobbying push made by administrators late last month.
The foundation aid formula, established in 2007, uses factors like pupil needs and regional costs to help determine how much state aid a school district should receive. Many school districts have argued that they have been shortchanged, however, even as the formula aimed to reduce inequity among districts.
“We went up there, we were all on the same page,” Michael Fabiano, the assistant superintendent for business, said on Thursday. “What we chose to talk about this year was an issue that’s becoming more prevalent up in the state, and that’s the state funding formulas.”
Superintendent Kathleen Sottile, school board President Laura Ferone and Fabiano all went to Albany to meet with members of the state Senate Education Committee and representatives from the governor’s committee on education.
Ferone and Fabiano said that the strategy this year was to first meet with state Sen. Anna Kaplan and Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages about pushing for “fair funding.” This, combined with careful scheduling by Marybeth Altobelli, allowed them to focus more on their presentation to state officials.
Fabiano said the presentation highlighted various statistics, including the district’s above average proficiency in English Language Arts and Mathematics and competitiveness with nearby districts despite “spending less than half of what some of the districts are spending.”
“[It’s] really a credit to everybody, including [Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Student Services Juli] Mulcahy and our teachers,” Fabiano said.
Sottile said it was an “amazing, amazing day” in Albany and that the district already received a call from Kaplan’s office, asking Floral Park-Bellerose to be “part of the discussion on foundation aid.”
“They were so impressed with the work that Michael [Fabiano] did and the handouts that he left them that they’re actually looking to put together a forum,” Sottile said, “and they chose the Floral Park-Bellerose school district to be a part of that superintendents’ forum.”
In other business, teachers Alyssa Borg and Marisa Kowalski discussed the benefits of implementing flexible seating in elementary school classrooms. They said that both studies and their experience so far point to increased engagement, communication and collaboration among students.
School district officials also honored Thomas Sheehan, a math and science teacher at Floral Park-Bellerose School in Floral Park, for competing and winning on “Survivor: Island of the Idols.”
Ferone said Sheehan conducted himself in a way that his students could be proud of.
Trustees also made note of a letter from Lions Club president Lynn Smith, who thanked student councils and advisers for helping organize the collection of winter wear for veterans. Forty-five hats, 32 gloves and 16 scarves were delivered to St. Albans Veterans Hospital.
Students from the Floral Park-Bellerose school district continue their education starting at grade 7 at the Sewanhaka Central High School District, which has its own Board of Education. That board will have its next meeting on Feb. 25 starting at 6:30 p.m., with a budget hearing slated to start around 7 p.m.
The Floral Park-Bellerose Board of Education’s next meeting will take place on March 2.