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East Williston enlists parents’ input on latest 5-year school plan

A recent forum precedes an online survey planned for February seeking more suggestions and ideas. District officials are hoping to adopt the new roadmap, which could include a focus on world languages and civic responsibility, in mid-July.

Parents of students at The Wheatley School in

Parents of students at The Wheatley School in Old Westbury, one of the three schools in the East Williston Union Free School District, are being asked to choose from among 21 topics for a new five-year plan. Photo Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

East Williston Union Free School District officials are creating a new five-year plan for the district’s 1,750 pupils and are asking for parents’ help in setting the priorities.

During a recent public forum, district officials showed parents a list of 21 topics that the district could focus on between 2018 and 2023, including school security, world languages and community-service learning. Parents were then asked to select which ones were most important.

Superintendent Elaine Kanas said the forum will help district officials gather more feedback.

“We have to determine now what are we going to survey people on,” Kanas told a crowd of about 20 parents and district employees. “What do you think is important to keep? What do you think maybe we should take off?”

Rumayla Bhallo, of Old Westbury, who has three students in the district, said English language arts should be an emphasis, particularly at the district’s elementary school.

Amy Rose, of Roslyn Heights, who has two fifth-graders in the district, said having more community-service opportunities is important for her daughters.

“I can only teach them so much of that at home,” Rose said, adding that school facilities wasn’t high on her priority list.

Other parents at the forum suggested adding nutrition education, lessons on the importance of environmental sustainability and study skills to the list.

In mid-February, the district plans to release an online survey to ask more people for their input. The district is hoping to adopt its new roadmap in mid-July.

Kanas said the next few months will be about “helping to identify community priorities for the next five years.” She said the five-year plan will help her and the school board set budget priorities.

The district has 249 instructional staff and operates under a $58 million budget across an elementary, middle and high school. This is the district’s second five-year plan.

In the previous plan, for the years 2013 to 2018, parents, staff and residents said they wanted district officials to focus on college placement and STEM education. As a result, “one of the major things that occurred was that we developed a four-year engineering sequence, which we now have at our high school,” Kanas said.

Under the previous plan, the district also launched a tougher elementary school science curriculum and added a robotics program at each school.

Most of the goals from the previous five-year plan have been completed, Kanas said. However, the district is still finalizing the curriculum for Advanced Placement computer science courses at the high school.

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