New Valley Stream board presidents talk school safety


Every July, the boards of education of the four Valley Stream school districts elect presidents to serve for the following school year. This year, John Maier was elected president of the Central High School District; Sean Douglas was tapped for the District 13 post; Donna LaRocco was selected as the president of the District 24 board; and Ken Cummings got the nod in District 30.

Recently, the Herald interviewed the new presidents to see what residents could expect in the 2018-19 school year.

John Maier

Maier represents District 24 on the Central High School District board. He has served on the board for three years.

The Board of Education, he said, would once again discuss the waiver, or school choice, policy in the fall. In June, three trustees voted to scrap the policy before then-president Bill Stris tabled the proposal. Maier was one of the trustees who voted for the plan, saying that he would like to investigate it further.

The board will also continue to discuss school safety, a topic that many students and parents brought up as an area of concern last year. “We’ll end up getting a report from [the] Nassau County [Police Department], and security will be a top issue,” Maier said. “We just want to make sure the kids are safe and secure and make sure they’re learning.”

The board will meet next on Aug. 28 at the district offices, at 1 Kent Road.

Sean Douglas

Douglas has served on the District 13 board for seven years. The 2018-19 school year will be his second term as president.

He would like, he said, for students to learn useful skills needed to live in a “global society, while teaching them social skills that would allow them to care about those around them” and to “ensure that our school board is responsive to the needs of our community and continues to be fiscally responsible.”

Next year, District 13 will continue to work on capital projects funded by a $32 million bond that was approved in 2014. The work includes repairs to windows and doors, wiring for a new public address system and a new security system.

To enhance security, Douglas said, the district will also hire guards, add more cameras and build traps at each of the four elementary schools before September. In addition, he said, the board will speak with law enforcement about ways to further harden the schools.

The District 13 Board of Education will meet next on Aug. 21 at 8 p.m.

Donna LaRocco

LaRocco was elected as president on July 9, after some debate among District 24 board members. (For more, see the story, “District 24 Board of Ed taps LaRocco as president,” at She has served on the board for 10 years.

“As the president of the Board of Education for Valley Stream District 24, I will ensure that the board’s focus continues to be on the importance of our mission, vision and goals, which ultimately will benefit all children and community members of our district,” LaRocco said in an emailed statement. “Any distractions to those goals will not be tolerated.”

She also said the board needs to be “cohesive . . . with an emphasis on teamwork, accountability and our children.”

The board will hold its next public meeting on Aug. 23 at 8:30 p.m.

Ken Cummings

Cummings was elected president of the District 30 board on July 3, and has served on the board for the past 13 years.

This year, he said, board members will continue working on the district’s strategic plan. The goal is to enhance the core curriculum and communications, and “student learning opportunities through capital planning, which includes prudent facilities and fiscal management,” according to the district’s website.

“It gives the staff an idea of what is expected,” Cummings said.

The district is also seeking approval from the state Education Department to begin work on its capital improvement projects, including building new classrooms and dfeveloping an energy-efficiency contract. “We’re hoping . . . we can begin at least some of the outside work in the fall,” Cummings said.

To boost school security, the district has upgraded all cameras and partnered with Nassau County police, and it will install the RAVE application that will connect the district to the Police Department in an emergency.

“We want to make sure we’ve done the best we can and the students are safe,” Cummings said.

The next District 30 Board of Education meeting will be on Aug. 27 at 8 p.m.

Superintendent Don Sturz

The July 9 meeting was Sturz’s first as the District 24 superintendent. Sturz serves in a nonvoting capacity on the board. He said he has already met some students and parents, and will meet with district stakeholders in the coming weeks. He will also speak with principals and representatives from Preferred Meals, he said, about the meals that students are served, and will consider options with Director of Finance and Operations Jack Mitchell.

Sturz would also like to “increase how we integrate technology into the classroom.” To do so, the district received a $75,000 state bullet grant that was secured by Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages, a Democrat from Valley Stream. The grant will fund virtual reality and computer technologies.