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OpinionEditorial

Progress in Hempstead schools needs sustained focus

The school board needs to set academic benchmarks by which it and the community can gauge progress.

Jack Bierwirth remains on as special adviser to

Jack Bierwirth remains on as special adviser to the Hempstead school district. Photo Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

Good things are beginning to happen in the Hempstead school district. That’s clear in the most recent report by the state-appointed adviser to the long-troubled system, and that’s great news. But for anyone involved with Hempstead, and anyone who cares about the district’s students, there is a more important take-away:

Success will evaporate unless those working to turn around Hempstead maintain their focus and discipline. District adviser and veteran educator Jack Bierwirth noted significant instability and turmoil in key offices and on the board of education that would be difficult for any district to overcome, never mind one with the myriad challenges facing Long Island’s most troubled school district. The obstacles can be met, in other words, but sustained success depends on sustained effort.

Positive developments include adopting the rigorous International Baccalaureate program for elementary and middle school students. The graduation rate has nudged up to 51 percent, a bit closer to the state minimum standard of 67 percent. Budget and fiscal operations are improving, evident in the creation of a properly formatted budget for 2018-19. Facilities are getting regular maintenance and repair, and voters approved a measure to replace the long-shuttered Rhodes Elementary School, which will mean fewer students studying in portable trailers.

Now the board needs to set academic benchmarks by which it and the community can gauge progress. It also must maintain its push to root out corruption by continuing to refer cases to Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas, and Singas needs to vigorously pursue them.

So far, so good. But there’s still so far to go, and still so many students to serve. — The editorial board

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