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Schools Celebrate 200th

School200_042915BAmazing is the only word to describe this past Sunday’s 200th anniversary celebration for the Great Neck School District.

The large crowd gathered at Great Neck South High School was much like a reunion, with a large group of current and former superintendents, administrators, teachers, students and parents. The afternoon was really a joy, as old friends caught sight of one another and embraced as the memories floated through the air.

The excitement was palpable as one after the other, old friends discovered Bill Shine,
the beloved former superintendent who led the district for well over 20 years. Suddenly, the years melted away and “yesterday” did not seem so long ago.

As guests arrived, they were treated to an informal reception in the lobby in addition to a continuous showing of The First 200 Years video. The video, produced by GNPS/TV in conjunction with the 200th Anniversary of the Great Neck Public Schools, offers an entertaining and informative look at the school district, from its beginnings 200 years ago to the many current programs that truly make Great Neck a “lighthouse” district.

School200_042915AThe afternoon included the wonderful opportunity to mingle and rediscover old friendships, as well as “reflections” on the past, awards of achievement and some welcome words from school district leaders, Superintendent of Schools Thomas Dolan and Board of Education members (President Barbara Berkowitz, Vice President Lawrence Gross and trustees Donald Ashkenase and Susan Healy).

Three alumni (one from each of the district’s high schools, North High School, South High School and the Village School), representing all alumni, were then presented with 200th Anniversary Alumni Awards. The honored alumni, Dr. Mary L. Cleave, North High School Class of 1965 (second female astronaut); Roy G. Niederhoffer, South High School Class of 1982 (hedge fund manager and philanthropist); and Ilan D. Hall, Village School Class of 2000 (chef and winner of the television series Top Chef), all spoke to the audience, offering enthusiastic memories of their growing up years in the Great Neck community and almost magical tales of their experiences attending the Great Neck Public Schools. Each one emphasized how their educational experience in Great Neck helped shape them to become leaders in their chosen fields. School200_041529C

The Showcase of Achievement was a special presentation, with displays from over two dozen school district programs and organizations. Guests walked from station to station to view and learn about a whole host of school district programs, including: Adult Basic Education, athletics, Community Education, Community School, DECA, ESL, facilities and structures, GNPS/TV, GNTA, Guide Post (North High newspaper), a historical perspective of former buildings, internships, math, music, opera, outdoor education, public service learning, responsive classrooms, Robotics, SEAL, school lunch program, science research, Shared Decision Making/Goal Setting, Stages, summer recreation, Teachers College Reading & Writing, UPTC and the visual arts.

For all who are or have been involved with the Great Neck School District, in any one of dozens of ways, this was an afternoon to remember, As everyone said, this was just the first 200 years.

Giraffe Finds A Home in Great Neck

Marvin Anchin’s sculpture was a big attraction [Read more…]

New School Bank Policy

SchoolBanking_042215AThe Board of Education for the Great Neck School District has put a new Policy On Electronic/Online Banking into effect. At the most recent school board public action meeting on March 30, the new policy was approved. This new policy was drafted in response to a recommendation by the school district’s internal auditor. The policy addresses employees authorized to do online banking and make electronic transfers, as well as addressing the requirements for preauthorization of transfers including required documentation.

This brand new policy states that the school board requires clear, complete and detailed accounting of all financial transactions for which the board is held accountable. New York State law authorizes the use of electronic or wire
transfers. In order to provide oversight and security with regard to sound fiscal management of electronic banking activity, the board authorizes the use of electronic or wire transfer dependent on the following procedures: written wire transfer security agreement between bank and school district; online payment transactions to financial institutions in the U.S. authorized for investment of funds, for debt service or payroll deduction or pay or fringe benefit payments; transfers in district bank accounts; food service payments; state and federal grants; tax receipts; other revenue sources for efficient operation of district.

The policy also states that, pertaining to online bnanking, the district clerk, with a separate user name and password, has the authority to process online banking transactions. The director of business services and the superintendent of schools, also with established user names and passwords, is responsible for online banking transactions if the district clerk is unavailable.

Regarding electronic or wire transfers, the new policy also states that procedures will be implemented specifying who is authorized to initiate, approve, transmit, record, review and reconcile electronic transactions. At least two individuals will be involved in each transaction, the assistant superintendent for business (or another assistant superintendent) who must authorize transactions and the district clerk who executes the transactions. Transactions can be initiated via advisories, memos, emails or such.

This new Policy On Electronic/Online Banking was adopted according to school board rules.
A new policy, a revised policy
or a policy to be deleted may
only be approved following three
public hearings.

This Sunday at 1 PM

The Great Neck School System celebrates its 200th anniversary this Sunday on the South High Campus, beginning at 1 P.M. [Read more…]

Dr. Shine Has Never Really Retired

Dr ShineHe said that he was retiring almost 11 years ago, but he never really has. [Read more…]

Complete School Budget Info


On Tuesday, May 19, from 7 a.m. –10 p.m., at the E.M. Baker School and the William A. Shine-South High School, qualified residents of the school district may vote on the: [Read more…]

No Great Neck Opt-Out Info

OptOut_042215AThe Great Neck School District continues to take a “no comment” stand on the state-mandated third through eighth grade exams and the opt-out statistics are not being released. Superintendent of Schools Thomas Dolan has chosen not to reveal the school district’s statistics on these recent exams. And Dolan is still firm in his stand that these state-mandated exams are strictly “a parental decision.”

In the Great Neck Record article last month, Dolan stated his belief that parents must choose for their own child. He told the Record that “parents are the ones to come to a decision, based on each child and how they might react to such testing.” Dolan also told the Record that he feels that the testing, as well as the opt out (or the opt in) decision, should be derived at “in a responsible way.”

As well, in the past months, while parents all over New York State have been protesting these state-mandated tests imposed on children in second grade through eighth grade, parents in Great Neck have not been actively fighting the exams. There have been no local protests and, to date, there hab been no local protests. At that time, too, stated that the testing was not a controversial issue in the community.

Also, to date, Great Neck parents have been hesitant to discuss the opt-in/opt-out issue and chose not to be interviewed. Some local parents andd educators did expressed their “mistrust” in the use of eventual test results, but would not speak “on-the-record.” Many feared that the state (and not the school district) would use test scores in a way that could result in negative repercussions. Then, as now, some chose to opt-out, while others allowed their children to take these controversial tests.

Lori Beth Schwartz, president of the school district’s United Parent-Teacher Council (UPTC) executive board, echoed Dolan’s thoughts, also emphasizing that the decision is totally in the hands of the parents.

However, these controversial exams remain a quiet issue in Great Neck, not much of an issue at all. Opting-out in Great Neck remains a private, parental decision.

(Editor’s Note: According to the Facebook page for the group Long Island Opt Out, 272 students, or 10 percent of Great Neck students opted out of these tests. The Record does not consider these official results and, to date, the Great Neck School District has not released the official results. Note, though, that in these unofficial statistics shown in the accompanying graphics, the Great Neck School District had one of the lowest percentages of students opting out of the exams. According to the statistics, the total number of opt outs on Long Island is 82,036.)

Summer Rec Sign Up


David Zawatson

The Great Neck School District’s summer 2014 recreation program was a resounding success, but District Director of Athletics, Recreation and Physical Eduction David Zawatson reported that signing up for the 2015 programs have been delayed due to this past winter’s stormy days (and school and school board meeting cancellations). Applications were due to be sent out immediately following the March 30, Board of Education meeting.

For last summer, the program’s 68th summer, expenses were recouped. Joseph Loria, the summer program’s supervisor, emphasized that these summer programs are designed to “address individual needs.”

The summer camp part of the program celebrated 25 years and, as a summer camp, is now under the supervision of the Nassau County Health Department, and subject to all such county rules and guidelines. The ratio of counselors to campers is low (six to one for the very young children and 12 to one for older campers). There is als0 one CPR trained person for every 100 campers. And all lifeguards are Red Cross trained.

The summer program includes both play time and playgrounds, as well as classes. For the middle school students, the program concentrates on sports activities. Students in grades seven to 13 mostly have evening activities at one of the high schools (at South High School last summer). The program often switches schools each year for most activities.

Zawatson addressed recommenations for the upcoming summer 2015 summer recreation programs. He recommended a three percent raise in tuition, due to the new minimum wage increase that affects the counselors. (Zawatson also noted that all of the counselors in the program are Great Neck students.) The posibility was alsn noted that another minimum wage increase is also anticipated, which would probsbly result in another tuition increase for summer 2016.

Zawatson also recommended the continuation of the 10 percent sibling discount and he recommended allowing students to sign up for only certain indicated weeks.  And he briefly discussed sign-ups for out-of-district guests. So far, only guest students vising Great Neck resident grandparents may attend the summer recreation program.

And for those students planning on attending the school distrit’s year-round recreation programs, Zawatson spoke of adding a a chess program. And the very-popular year-round swim programs will continue.]

For further information about the school district’s summer programs, or any recreation programs, visit:

South Adds Music Support

SchoolPolicy_020615AMusic students at Great Neck South High School will enjoy extra support [Read more…]

North High Chamber Recital

SchoolChamber_041515A (3)North High School will hold its Chamber Music Recital on Wednesday, April 22, beginning at 7 p.m., in the school auditorium, 35 Polo Rd. [Read more…]