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‘Exciting times’ for Lawrence School District


The Lawrence Board of Education reorganization meeting on July 9 included a little of the old — once again Murray Forman and Dr. Asher Mansdorf will serve as president and vice president, respectively, and a little of the with new Lance McAllister officially introduced as the new district director of facilities.

As the new school year began on July 1, the seven-member board — Heshy Blachorsky, Abel Feldhamer, Forman, Mansdorf, Michael Hatten, Tova Plaut and Dr. David Sussman — approved a number of district, authorizations, contracts and official designations. Hatten, Plaut and Sussman, re-elected in May, also begin fresh three-year terms.

A tax levy of $89,010,177 was set. That is the amount of money the district collects through property taxes to help support the $102.449 million budget. A fiscal plan that includes a tax levy decrease of 0.23 percent.

From that budget, the district will pay for many items and contracts, including a little over $8 million for employee health insurance. Also among the listed payments more than $50,000 is the $512,000 for Summit Security Services as Lawrence continues to secure its campuses and keep its districtwide safety plan up to date.

The Nassau Herald was named as one of the three publications, along with Long Island Business News and Newsday, which will publish the district’s legal notices.

“These are exciting times,” Forman said, alluding to the Federal Emergency Management Agency Money the district will receive — $14.387 million, with 90 percent of it, exactly $12,948,307.94 from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency and the other 10 percent from New York State’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services. “We are moving to implement the plan in a year and change,” he added. The money is expected to pay for hazard mitigation projects.

Teacher contract talks

On the slower end of progress is the negotiation on a new contract for the Lawrence Teachers Association, which has nearly 280 members, including librarians, speech therapists and social workers.

After nearly nine years without a new agreement, the LTA and Lawrence officials agreed to take part in super conciliation on June. 6. Super conciliation is defined as post-fact-finding mediation that is agreed to by both negotiating parties and conducted by the New York State Public Employment Relations Board or another mediation service.

Forman believes the overall discussion went in reverse and remains resolute in his thinking that the previous contract “is not consistent with providing a 21st century education.” “We are back to square one,” he said, adding that to implement changes for the coming school year, a new contract would have to agreed up relatively soon.

Lori Skonberg, president of the LTA, said nothing was accomplished. “We never had a chance to negotiate with the district,” she said. “The LTA sat with the super conciliator until 2 p.m. No district person was there after 11:30 a.m., so I don’t know how it went in reverse.”

Saying that there is no urgency, since it is the ninth year without a new agreement, Skonberg said: “The district would like to implement new changes, but the LTA will not settle unless it’s a fair agreement for it’s members. That has always been out stand why would we change it now?

Another super conciliation meeting is scheduled for Aug. 6.

Have an opinion about Lawrence School District issues? Send your letter to the editor to jbessen@liherald.com.