This month's North Bellmore Board of Education meeting, held at Martin Avenue Elementary school on Wednesday evening, was a joyful and lighthearted affair, highlighted by the celebration of Board Recognition Month by both grateful parents and students of the community.
The board members are unpaid; their efforts to better the North Bellmore school district spring not from personal gain, but a desire to provide a better future for the children.
District superintendent Arnold Goldstein found it appropriate that Board Recognition Month coincides with Thanksgiving.
"Because of Thanksgiving, I think that it is a good time for us to give thanks to the Board of Education," he said. "I think one's character is expressed in the choices we make, and the actions we take, and as I look at the choices and actions taken by the Board, a clear pattern emerges: a genuine and deep concern for the welfare of each and every child in North Bellmore."
Principal Mark Wiener of Martin Avenue Elementary was on hand. Accompanied by several district music teachers, he informed the audience that, in observance of Board Recognition Month, the schools had purchased much-needed musical instruments and materials and donated them to the district in the name of the board.
"It's most fitting for our board of education tonight, that we choose to honor your hard work," he said. "Especially by giving these musical tokens of appreciation. It's fitting, because, through music, people express that which is inexpressible, and we do so on the wings of a song. So thank you again to our North Bellmore Board of Education."
Wiener also presided over a presentation given by a collection of students from North Bellmore's elementary schools, each of whom approached the board members with gifts of appreciation and words of thanks for all their hard work on their behalf.
Unfortunately, after the heartfelt ceremony had concluded, it was back to business as usual.
Of special note to residents was the recent change to the "County Guarantee" law. Previously, Nassau county would assess the properties of its residents and assign school taxes accordingly. If any mistakes were made with the assessments, the County would then issue refunds.
However, starting with the 2012-13 school year, the county has passed the responsibility - and the cost - of these refunds to the school districts themselves in order to balance the county budget.
Superintendent Goldstein went over what this would mean for the school district.
"We expect a host of legal challenges being made to this ruling," he said. "But if it holds, school districts will be forced to pay for the county's mistakes, which means reducing costs and raising taxes in order to equal the amount of money we'll have to return."
The combined Bellmore-Merrick school district has a meeting with Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano on Dec. 4 to discuss the issue in-depth.
After the meeting concluded, a delicious celebratory cake was offered to all in attendance.
Before downing his slice, Goldstein expressed that evenings like this one make the Board's sometimes difficult task well worth the effort.
"This is what we do it for," he said. "It's certainly why the Board does it...it's for the kids. It's very inspiring."
The next meeting of the North Bellmore Board of Education is scheduled for Dec. 14, at 8 p.m.