The tragic shooting deaths of 26 children and adults on Dec. 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. was the driving force behind an East Meadow Board of Education meeting on Thursday night.
The inicident caused East Meadow parents a great deal of concern for the safety of their own children and Superintendent Louis DeAngelo addressed these concerns at the board meeting.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the Sandy Hook Elementary School community,” he said. “Upon hearing of this tragedy, we were in immediate contact with of our building principals on how this matter should be addressed with our children, and to reiterate our own safety practices and procedures."
"Please be assured that this district has very detailed procedures in place to safeguard our children and staff. As a district, we will continue to be involved in an in-depth review of our procedures and practices in order to be sure that every precaution is in place.”
DeAngelo also spoke on rumors concerning possible East Meadow school safety issues being spread throughout social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter, which had reached a fever pitch in the week following the Newtown shootings.
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“Please be assured that rumors of any kind, or any threat, are taken seriously and investigated diligently,” he said. “Unfortunately, in this age of social media, rumors can spread instantaneously through an entire community. Our building principals will continue to address the students on the appropriate handling of rumors and the effects of instantaneous transmission of rumors and misinformation.”
During the public comments section, DeAngelo defended his decision not to address the Newtown shootings until the following Monday, saying that the decision to do so was a well thought-out effort that was done in the best interests of the children of the district. He also reiterated to parents the fact that the district has strict safety measures in place, but declined to give details for fear of compromising their effectiveness.
In other news, Board Vice President Walter Skinner provided an update on the progress of the Board of Education in determining next year’s budget, a process sure to be difficult in light of New York State’s dwindling financial aid and a new mandatory 2 percent tax cap.
“Our 2013-2014 budget process is underway,” he said. “The board will certainly keep the community informed and will seek community input prior to its adoption in March.”
The meeting also included holiday performances of several of the district’s student musical programs, including the Bowling Green Elementary School Choir, the Woodland Middle School String Ensemble, the East Meadow High School Hand Bell Choir and the East Meadow High School Steel Drum Band. All performed renditions of classic holiday musical numbers, much to the delight of the many parents in the audience.
The next meeting of the East Meadow Board of Education is scheduled for Jan. 24, 2013 at 7 p.m.