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Central District Set for New School Year, Compromise Reached on Field Usage

The Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District School Board meets Wednesday.

The Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District has four more positions to fill before the start of the school year, Superintendent Henry Kiernan said at Wednesday night's school board meeting.

The district has three new teachers coming on board, including one special education position that is federally funded and required by law because of an enrollment increase, Kiernan said.

"Otherwise, we are in good shape, ready to go," he said, referring to the first day of school on Sept. 7. 

Fields to remain open until Oct. 31

Following last month's board meeting in which local athletic organizers told the board that closing off the district's five main athletic fields to outside use would potentially ruin their fall seasons, district officials have decided to keep the football fields at Merrick Avenue and Grand Avenue middle schools open until Oct. 31.

"Thank you for allowing reasonable minds and heads to come through," Matt Kurzweil, president of the Merrick Police Athletic League's (PAL) travel program, told the board Wednesday.

Kurzweil said PAL is preparing a proposal for how to deal with spring sports season scheduling and he expects to have that in front school officials soon. 

"We have a rotation plan where there is sacrifice all around," Kurzweil said. 

John Pinto, who runs the Bellmore-Merrick PAL lacrosse program, and spoke before the board last month, said he was pleased with the steps the district has taken so far in working with the outside sports groups.

"If it works out between soccer and lacrosse in the fall and spring, hopefully it will work out down the road," Pinto said after Wednesday's meeting, adding that school officials will need to continue making sacrifices as well. 

A district athletic fields committee advised the board earlier this year to shut down the main (football) fields at Calhoun, Kennedy and Mepham high schools to outside groups to allow them to rest.  When athletic organizers found out recently that the fields at the middle schools would also be closed, they said may have had to turn children away from playing if a compromise had not been reached. 

Parent pleads for transportation for daughter

Merrick resident Gary Friedman attended Wednesday's meeting to ask board members to reconsider a decision to deny his daughter transportation to a non-public school this coming year.

Friedman, whose daughter is entering the seventh grade at the Hebrew Academy in Uniondale, missed the April 1 deadline to turn in an application for transportation.

"I understand there is a deadline and you have to abide by that, but for one child, where there is a bus in the area anyway, I was hoping you would reverse your decision," said Friedman, who added that as of now, his daughter does not want to go to school if she has to be driven everyday.

Friedman said he attempted to drop the application off at the district office on March 29, but it was closed for the holidays. With Passover starting the next day, Friedman said he was unable to turn in the application until the following Wednesday, April 7. 

School Board President Nani Lanci said the board would convene after the meeting to review Friedman's situation.

In other school board action:

The board approved the establishment of the Lewis J. Serra Award to be given to a graduating Kennedy High School and Mepham High School senior who is also a former Grand Avenue Middle School student, in the amount of $250, funded by vending machine profits. Serra retired as principal at Grand Avenue at the end of the 2009/10 school year.

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