The seven volunteer members of the Huntington School Board were recognized this past Monday night by J. Taylor Finley Middle School artists and musicians, who saluted the trustees’ service to the community and their commitment to the academic and co-curricular programs that are the hallmark of the district.
Trustees do not earn salaries or stipends. They don’t receive health insurance or retirement benefits. They are legally responsible for overseeing a budget of more than $126 million and hundreds of full-time and part-time employees. It’s not an easy job.
Huntington trustees Christine Biernacki, Tom DiGiacomo, Bill Dwyer, Bari Fehrs, Jennifer Hebert, Xavier Palacios and Emily Rogan were recognized with an impressive trumpet performance and a stunning piece of artwork during this week’s business meeting.
“I have had the honor and privilege of working with a group of seven individuals who share a particularly important thing in common – they all care genuinely about and are always concerned with what is in the best interests of Huntington children and their families,” Superintendent James W. Polansky said. “They are among the many reasons that this is a very special district and a great place learn and grow.”
Huntington trustees, like their colleagues serving on more than 700 school boards across the state, are true volunteers. Elected by the community, they receive no compensation for their service other than the satisfaction they feel for seeing that the young people who live here receive the free and full public education to which they are entitled to under the state constitution.
New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo proclaimed School Board Recognition Week as a way of honoring the thousands of trustees who “continually strive for improvement, excellence and progress in education.”
District Director of Fine and Performing Arts Eric Reynolds introduced the Finley musicians and unveiled the artwork. He expressed his appreciation to trustees for their unbending commitment to the arts in the district.
Led by Finley music teacher Frank Battista, Jack Alba, Jake Burton, Emily Geller Ainsley Proctor and Luke Rinaldi the group performed “Trumpet Voluntary” by Henry Purcell to the delight of the trustees and the auditorium crowd.
The gorgeous colorful artwork is titled Colors Our World and was created by Finley seventh and eighth grade art students under the direction of teachers Teachers-Ayallah Jeddah, Karen Morea and Dena Mortell. The student-artists utilized the Zentangle method to create the attractive piece.
The trustees participate in dozens of meetings during the course of a typical year. They attend scores of school events, participate in training conferences related to their service and field countless phone calls and e-mails from residents anxious to share their opinions. They are all a familiar presence around the district.
What could possibly motivate a person to volunteer their services for a position that involves so much time and work? Trustees state that it stems from their desire to see the young people of the community enjoy the most broad based classroom education and co-curricular experiences possible. It’s not an easy task, but students across the district uniformly speak highly of the time they have spent on every grade level and in all eight school buildings.