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Hempstead school officials offer apology for scrambled start

Hempstead school district Superintendent Susan Johnson addresses the

Hempstead school district Superintendent Susan Johnson addresses the community during a presentation at a public board meeting Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

Two Hempstead school district administrators apologized for the disarray students experienced during the first three days of class, but said admissions are back on track now.

At the first school board meeting of the new term Thursday night, Hempstead administrators gave progress reports in areas ranging from enrollment to technology to update community members about the school year that began Sept. 1.

All five board members and Superintendent Susan Johnson were present during the meeting, which began about 7 p.m. in the high school auditorium, with up to 50 residents in attendance.

It was the first meeting of a school year in which the district set out to lift its middle and high schools out of state-mandated receivership.

At the outset, the two administrators apologized for first-week glitches that affected the scheduling of classes, which left students confused for the first few days,

"I apologize to the community for what happened for the first three days of school," said James Clark, associate superintendent for secondary curriculum and instruction.

"Our students were ready. They looked good. But we were not ready."

High school Principal Stephen Strachan also apologized. Clark said the district was back on track and the days of disarray are behind them.

They were among several administrators, including the middle school principal, who touted the rollout of programs and initiatives the district hopes will boost student performance, provide safety, increase the integration of technology into instruction and upgrade facilities.

Johnson listed up to $10 million in grants the district has secured, adding that another $10 million could come if several pending applications are successful.

"We will be looking at $20 million in the district," she said after a series of presentations, including one proposal to reopen the Rhodes Elementary School and get rid of unsightly trailers where students have received instruction for more than a decade."Having this school will allow us to remove 24 broken-down trailers," said Shelley Brazley, a former board member who is part of a committee exploring how the district can construct a new building to create space and relieve overcrowding.

The committee said the district has experienced a massive influx of students in recent years and now operates at 105 percent of its facilities' design capacity.

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