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Northport-East Northport school board of education

David Badanes speaks at a Northport-East Northport school board meeting. File Photo by Eric Santiago

On July 15, members of the Northport-East Northport Union Free School District board of education gathered for their annual reorganization meeting. During the meeting new trustees Larry Licopoli and Thomas Loughran, as well as re-elected member Allison Noonan, were sworn in by the board counsel. Each member will serve for three years on the board.

   Additionally, the positions of board president and vice president were voted upon in which David Badanes and Allison Noonan were appointed, respectively. Both were also sworn in by the board counsel. Both Superintendent of Schools Robert Banzer and District Clerk Beth Nystrom took their annual oath of office, pledging to fulfill their duty in serving the district.

Northport-East Northport Superintendent Robert Banzer. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

Northport-East Northport school board members approved an almost $40 million bond referendum to improve school facilities and classroom space, infrastructure and athletic facilities during a Dec. 14 meeting.

The bond includes a $2 million plan for a new stadium and track at the high school, as well as a new turf field and the creation of security vestibules at every school in the district.

All schools in the districts will undergo improvements through the bond, with projects like bathroom reconstructions, classroom improvements, sink and countertop replacements, and sidewalk and paving improvements. Northport and East Northport middle schools athletic fields will also receive upgrades including replacing of the tracks, and improving of fields. The most costly improvements are set for Northport High School, where more than $16 million will be spent on athletic upgrades, science lab reconstruction and more.

At the meeting residents expressed concern with the creation of turf fields, citing health issues with the turf infill.

“I believe the board wants to and will get input and discussions on the type of fill. We want the safest choice of course for our students.” —Andrew Rapiejko

“Has there been any considerations for the potential health risks with turf burns, body fluids on the field, and joint injury in young athletes?” Tom Fischer, an East Northport resident asked at the meeting. “There is also an issue of artificial turf fields heating up substantially, and September this year was beastly hot. I really can’t imagine high school football players fully clad in that field-generated heat. That would certainly increase the risk of heat exhaustion.”

Trustee Regina Pisacani, who headed the Athletic Facilities Citizens Advisory Committee, the group which surveyed the school’s athletic fields and made suggestions for upgrades, said there were many debates on turf.

“The committee had a lot of different turf companies come in and we had a couple physical therapists who had concerns about the turf,” she said. “You can find articles for both sides of the coin. You can find articles that say there are significant injuries on turf and natural grass.”

Paul Klimuszko, director of physical education, athletics and health at Northport said students are not allowed to play if it’s too hot outside. Section XI athletics forbids schools from allowing players outside once it reaches 95 on the heat index.

“Once Section XI calls a heat advisory, there’s not playing on any of the fields,” he said. “You know I’ve never seen a heat advisory that says not on the turf but still on the grass. Once it gets to a certain temperature it’s no activities.”

When Northport resident Carl Lick asked for a definite plan from the board on the type of turf the district plans on using, he added, “Asbestos was safe until it wasn’t safe. Smoking was safe until it wasn’t safe. I think we have to err on the side of safety.”

Board President Andrew Rapiejko said the turf fields are a small amount of the whole bond referendum, and the board doesn’t plan on going into the nitty-gritty details of every part of the bond at this point.

“So the details of exactly which fill we are going to use, we’re not going to decide right away because I think there is a lot to that,” he said. “What the board at this point needs to look at is the cost, when it comes time for the decision of what kind of infill we will use. I believe the board wants to and will get input and discussions on the type of fill. We want the safest choice of course for our students.”

The bond had been discussed for several months leading up to last week’s vote, and input was taken from residents, special committees, board members, administrators and more. The scope of work was approved unanimously, and the bond will go to a community vote in February 2017.

New trustee Allison Noonan raises her hand as she is sworn into office in the Northport school board. Photo by Wenhao Ma.

By Wenhao Ma

The Northport-East Northport board of education welcomed change to their meeting last Thursday as Allison Noonan was sworn in after beating out incumbent Julia Binger last May.

Noonan, a social studies teacher in Syosset school district, is involved in the PTA and SEPTA. During the election season, she said she believed her newcomer status was exactly why she is the right choice for the job.

“I am not a part of the board that supported a failed administrator,” Noonan said of former Northport-East Northport Superintendent Marylou McDermott in a previous interview with Times Beacon Record Newspapers.

She said under McDermott’s tenure, district facilities, like the athletic fields, bathrooms and classrooms, fell into disrepair, and she would work to fix those problems.

At her swearing-in, Noonan said she was excited to get to work.

“I was thrilled that I was able to go out and support the community.” Noonan said when asked about her reaction after being elected back in May. “It was very sweet. I hope that I can be able to work for [the parents and students] consistently.”

New vice president David Stein raises his hand as he is sworn into office in the Northport school board. Photo by Wenhao Ma.
New vice president David Stein raises his hand as he is sworn into office in the Northport school board. Photo by Wenhao Ma.

Incumbent Andrew Rapiejko was also sworn in at the meeting on July 7, and the board agreed to vote him in for another term as president.

Rapiejko, who has spent more than a half decade working as a board member, is entering his seventh year as a member, and said he is thrilled to continue doing his job.

“Thank you for the honor of being able to serve again as president,” Rapiejko said to other board members, parents and students. He said he is looking forward to a successful 2016-17 school year.

During election season, Badanes said he is proud of his work in the search to find a new leader for the district.

“Hiring the superintendent, who’s done a tremendous job this year, was a big accomplishment,” Rapiejko said in a phone interview. “Being able to sort through the applicants and choose someone who’s the right fit was a challenge.”

Board member David Stein was elected at the meeting as the new vice president, replacing David Badanes. Stein said he is happy to work for the board.

“We got great schools,” he said. “We just work on keeping them that way.”

Lori McCue was the third board member elected in May, but she was absent from the meeting.

On election night, McCue said she looks forward to finishing an energy performance contract with the district that aims to make it more energy-efficient.

I’m very grateful for the people who came out and supported me,” McCue said.