Story by Christina Hedding
At the Florida Union Free School (UFSD) District Board of Education meeting on Thurs., Jan. 19, the Board invited students from the S.S. Seward High School’s program at Touro Medical College in Middletown to speak about their experiences. S.S. Seward currently has three students participating in the MedAchieve program at Touro this year. Erika Straub and Orla Brosnan were invited to speak to the Board, and the gathered residents, about their experience in the program.
The MedAchieve program, as described by Straub, is taught as a once a week lecture class for high school students. Each student is paired with a mentor, a college student enrolled in the Touro Medical College, who helps guide them through the two-hour lecture and demonstrations. The students have participated in hands-on learning experiences including a visit to a cadaver lab where they could hold a human heart, brain and lungs.
“Anatomy is my favorite thing. And each week when we get to go over a different part of the body in detail, it’s so amazing. When we went into the cadaver lab it was the coolest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life,” said Straub. “I never would have been able to have these experiences without this program.”
“It’s a great opportunity and we’re so grateful for it,” said Orla Brosnan. “And we never would have been able to do it without the support of Mrs. Scheibling and Mr. Rheaume.”
In summing up the importance of an experience like this program at the high school level Straub said, “I knew I wanted to go into something medical related and through this program I definitely know it now. I love it.”
Both students, as well as fellow S.S. Seward student Colin Birch, will be returning next year to continue the program. They are all advancing to the MedExcel level of the program and will continue taking advantage of the amazing learning opportunity the program provides them.
Cold War Veterans Tax Exemption
Among the Announcements and Correspondence during the meeting, Board President John Campana discussed a letter from William F. Babcock regarding the Cold War Veterans Tax Exemption policy. Campana then invited Babcock to speak about the policy to the board. Babcock asked the board to consider adopting the policy which provides a similar tax exemption credit for Cold War veterans as it does for veterans of other wars.
Superintendent Jan Jehring reiterated this to the audience and suggested that the Board put the exemption on the agenda for their February work session and decide what to do at the next Board meeting. Jehring also said that the credit would have a $20,000 impact off the tax levy and have an impact on 15 individuals. She also said that if the policy is adopted, veterans will still only be eligible for one exemption and would not receive this exemption on top of one from their other services. The Board voted to put the exemption on the schedule to discuss in February.
Update on the 2017/2018 Budget
Superintended Jehring gave an update on the 2017/2018 budget, stating that the Board discussed both the State and the District budget at their last work session. According to Jehring, at the moment, the Board plans to roll over their current budget and make adjustments as they are deemed necessary and as they do that they will build their new budget. She stated that by March the Board should be ready to say what items they need to adjust and what items they can add to. In accessing both areas and rolling things forward, Jehring announced that the District was only looking at a 1.78 percent increase which is within the 2.0 percent State tax cap and better than last year’s number. Also, Jehring said that they are looking at a State Aide increase of $150,000, which is a slight increase, but it is also not guaranteed to stay that figure.
Adopting Days-off to Coincide with the BOCES Calendar
In looking over the school calendar for the 2017/2018 school year, the Board noticed that this year’s school calendar was not aligned with the BOCES calendar like other districts were. So Jehring explained that a lot of Florida students attend BOCES and it makes everything run smoother when the District’s calendar is aligned with the BOCES calendar. In order to align the two calendars, Jehring proposed adopting Mon., Apr. 17 as a day off and changing Fri., May 26 from a half day to a full day off. The proposed changes were accepted by the Board, under the condition that if make up snow days were needed the Board would reinstate the days as open schools days.
Twitter Account Update
Lastly, in her update Superintendent Jehring spoke about the reinstatement of the Florida UFSD’s Twitter account. The reactivation of the account is to help bring the school up to date on Social Media trends and provide another outlet for the District to share information and report on the successes of its students. The account is under the direction of Technologies Director Dana Castine and can be found at @floridaufsd on Twitter. Jehring added that the District hopes to add an S.S. Seward account, Golden Hill account and possibly a Facebook account following the success of the Twitter account.
The next meeting of the Florida UFSD will be held on Thurs., Feb. 16 at 7:30 p.m. in the Seward Memorial Building, located at 51 N. Main St. in Florida.