Jack Bierwirth, a state-appointed adviser to the Hempstead school district, handed up his third quarterly report to the state education commissioner recently.
Over eight pages, Bierwirth -- as he did in earlier reports -- carefully lays out the district’s continuing successes and challenges, twice making mention of unspecified matters that are going or may go to the Nassau district attorney’s office for investigation.
Cut through the conditionals, however, and there are plentiful good things going on.
Here, according to the report, are 10 of them:
10) Say bye-bye to the former Marguerite G. Rhodes School, which was decommissioned as a classroom building shortly after the turn of the century -- and condemned a decade ago. The upcoming demolition was made possible by community support of a bond issue.
9) Say hello to a new school, which is slated to be built with proceeds from that same bond.
8) Say good riddance to portable classrooms scattered throughout the district. The district is slated to begin a program of removing portables, which are 30 to 40 years old, also as a result of community bond support.
7) Residents passed the district’s budget. The bond and the budget "were approved by strong margins,” Bierwirth wrote, “hopefully a sign of faith in the future of the district.”
6) That budget was, for the first time in years, “accurate and appropriately formatted,” which also makes the document more easily (as budget documents go) accessible to residents looking to suss out district priorities.
5) And the process will become more transparent in 2019-2020, with board agreement on a timeline for developing future budgets -- which will allow “much greater board, community and staff involvement and more informed discussion about budget priorities.”
4) The budget includes additional funding for -- wait for it -- music!
3) Meanwhile, the number of Advanced Placement courses available to students has increased from four in recent years to nine last year -- with more slated to be added for the 2018-2019 school year.
2) Hempstead’s elementary and middle schools are now “candidate schools” for the International Baccalaureate Primary and Middle Years programs. It will take two years to complete the process for becoming certified as full IB schools. “I have noted this before, but I think it is significant,” Bierwirth wrote, “that Hempstead is the first public or private school on Long Island to implement the IB Primary Years Program.”
1) Hempstead High School’s 2018 valedictorian will be attending Harvard; the salutatorian will be attending Yale.
“This is not to minimize the challenges facing the high school but to illustrate the fact that a portion of Hempstead graduates are fully competitive with graduates anywhere,” Bierwirth wrote.
“The challenge,” he continued, “is to bring all enrolled students up to achievement which meets their full potential.”