LAKE HUNTINGTON, NY — The regular Sullivan West school board meeting on December 20 was a mixed bag: it marked Superintendent Stephen A. Walker’s final board meeting, featured a …
LAKE HUNTINGTON, NY — The regular Sullivan West school board meeting on December 20 was a mixed bag: it marked Superintendent Stephen A. Walker’s final board meeting, featured a presentation by athletic director David Eggleton to honor several teams from the fall sports season, gave student board representative Dylan Sager a chance to address issues surrounding the rapidly evolving pandemic’s effects on the student body and teaching staff, and closed with the superintendent’s report on the “status of in-person teaching and learning” in response to COVID-19.
At the start of the meeting, Eggleton made a PowerPoint presentation that recognized the notable accomplishments of a trio of Sullivan West Bulldogs teams during the Fall of 2021 sports season.
As part of his presentation, Eggleton explained that the athletic department has implemented Hudl, a software program, as an “educational tool” to help coaches, athletes and the media (including sports scribblers) review game footage to improve team play and/or accurately report on events.
For information on Hudl, billed as “The New Movement,” visit https://www.hudll.com.
In addition, the athletic department is using FamilyID as an effective registration and tracking method to, according to its website, provide a mobile app to give “coaches, instructors and other staff the most efficient way to view rosters and emergency cards, track attendance, and send information to parents in real-time.” For more information about FamilyID, visit https://www.familyid.com.
Calling it a bittersweet goodbye to Walker, Sager said of the outgoing helmsman’s taking over the ship of state on the eve of the COVID-19 outbreak, “You had a bad luck of the draw, coming into the district right before COVID, but you made it work… you helped us get back on track and I truly believe you made a positive impact here… We are excited to see where life takes you, and hope you will return to cheer on your Bulldogs.
“I remember the first day you came to our school for your interview, and I enjoyed your charisma,” he continued. “I appreciate how in tune you are with the students and how trusting you are of our abilities and responsible nature.”
Turning a page to address the pandemic, Sager said, “The cases are rising dramatically in our school and that is causing serious issues.”
According to the board’s senior student body representative, “entire classes are out, except two to three kids in some cases… teachers are going out sick and there are few subs to cover them… teachers are having to take their prep periods to help substitutes for a small compensation that does not nearly cover the workload they take on having to manage another class… this is pushing into the learning of our students.”
Noting that his role on the board is not that of a union leader, but a voice for the student body at large, Sager voiced his opinion that “when teachers are stressed and overwhelmed, so are the students… I don’t know what the fix is to this issue… but for the sake of our students, we need to find a solution.”
Moving on to more positive issues, he noted the success of the senior high concert, their first in-person indoor concert in two years, the ever-effervescent support of the Dawg Pound at sporting events, the track and field team’s taking on all comers at the local community college, and the upcoming musical moving along on the right note.
As part of his report to the board, Walker talked about the “status of in-person teaching and learning.”
“Unfortunately, our school district, county, region, state and nation are experiencing, once again, an increase in COVID cases. While we are substantially better positioned than we have been in the past because of the number of staff members, students, community members and neighbors who have been vaccinated, I recognize that the increased number of cases leads to discomfort and anxiety among many members of the school district, and has led to an occasional question about whether the schools should ‘close’ to in-person learning for a period of time.”
Continuing his comments regarding the ongoing pandemic and its evolution into variants, Walker reiterated “one of the guiding principles that we discussed and shared with the community back in August” as to how the district will approach learning during the ongoing crisis. He explained that at the top of the list of tenets was the concept that “in-person teaching and learning is the standard for our schools… in my opinion, that principle remains unchanged.”
Walker noted the value of connections related to in-person instruction, the problems involved with remote learning, and what he termed “the significant logistical challenges for families involved in school closings.”
In closing, he said, “While there are those who will disagree, and I respect that, my position is that our schools should remain open for in-person learning, every day, unless we are unable to safely supervise our students due to staffing shortages.”
The next regularly scheduled Sullivan West Central School District board meeting is set for Thursday, January 20, 2022 at 7 p.m. in the middle/high school library. For information, call the district office at 845/482-4610.
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