Pearl River Superintendent of Schools Dr. John Morgano and School Board President Michael Clohessy both addressed the recent vandalism at Pearl River High School during Tuesday's Board of Education meeting.
Last week, Orangetown Police arrested two Pearl River High School students in connection with the vandalism at the school, which took place at approximately 2 a.m. June 8.
"The nature of the vandalism and the severity of it are far above anything we've experienced before," Morgano said. "We are hoping it is a one-time event. It was very disappointing in a community like this to see that level of damage. If we are not able to remove what was spray-painted with other means and it has to be sand blasted, the cost could exceed $10,000. We will continue to pursue the investigation through the Orangetown Police Department."
"It was not our brightest day, but if you saw Channel 4, they interviewed some students who were not involved and they spoke eloquently about the incident," Clohessy said. "It was a nice contrast to what happened that day. I'm proud of them. Unfortunately, I can't say that for the other children."
Morgano was asked if the district would go after the parents of students who participated in the vandalism to pay for the damage.
"That would happen through the courts. They can mandate it," Morgano said. "We will do what we can to lend our voice to the courts that it would be appropriate."
Morgano is completing his first year as the district's superintendent after eight years as assistant superintendent with the Evans Park Elementary and Pearl River Middle school promotion ceremonies today, Pearl River High School graduation Thursday and the last day of classes Friday.
"It started with a hurricane, an earthquake and a black out and hopefully it will end with calmer weather," Morgano said. "It has been a great year and I appreciate everyone's support."
The meeting included a large number of personnel items. The occupational therapy services contract with Eileen Pipolo was tabled, but a large number of contracted positions were approved along with the fall sports coaches.
There will be two new head coaches for Pearl River High School varsity fall sports programs. Julie Crowe will be replaced as girls head volleyball coach by Brianna Kenna, who was an assistant coach in 2011. Mark Alaimo is taking over the girls swimming team from Ken Driscoll. The full list of personnel items is included in the meeting agenda attached to this report.
Other personnel items included keeping school psychologist Sheila Daley on for the 2012-13 school year as a leave replacement, a position she has held since January.
The district is also creating a part-time school psychologist position to replace a contracted school psychologist. Morgano said that the cost of the part-time position will be less than the contractor the district had been using.
District Director of Operations Quinton Van Wynen recommended taking part in the BOCES cooperative bid consortium.
"We are under no obligation. It gives us options in pricing products," Van Wynen said. "There is no charge for the service. The larger the group, the better the chance for a lower cost. We have been in this for several years and found it to be advantageous."
Resident Michael Mandel raised the issue of parking during the Pearl River Public Library voting June 5. Franklin Avenue Elementary School held its field day that same day, making it more difficult to find a space. He asked that this be avoided in the future.
Clohessy suggested opening the lot behind Pearl River Hook and Ladder, which is district property, for the day of the library vote in the future.
Parent and PTSA officer Eileen Kelly questioned the priority given to awards for athletes in the district in relation to academic honors. She pointed to the lack of recognition of the top 10 percent during the Pearl River High School Senior Awards and Scholarships Ceremony June 4, followed by the senior sports awards dinner June 6. Kelly, whose daughter was part of both, said it did not show a focus on academics over athletics.
"It's just not balanced," Kelly said. "It's not right.
"I'm normally your biggest cheerleader. Great job all year. This was a sour note for me."
The top 10 percent of the Pearl River High School senior class, including Valedictorian Jack Mikuszewski and Salutatorian Sam Berry, were honored at the academic awards ceremony for underclassmen May 21.
"I certainly agree on the top 10 percent," Board member Bruce Bond said. "The only reason the top 10 percent are recognized is I pushed for that."
Clohessy asked if Kelly considered National Honor Society inductions during the school year when comparing the recognition given to academic achievement.
Among other items addressed Tuesday:
- The board designated its next meeting, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. July 10, as its annual reorganizational meeting.
- The board honored Kaitlin Creagh, outgoing senior student representative to the board. Laura Cooper will be the junior representative next year, with Kelly Linnane taking Creagh's place as senior representative.
- Clohessy pointed out that Bond was inducted in the Rockland County School Board Association Hall of Fame June 14.
Editor's note: Check back with Pearl River Patch later today for more from the meeting, including the students honored by the board and administration Tuesday night.