The Island Trees Board of Education held a special meeting Tuesday evening where representatives from the district discussed final changes that will effect the upcoming school year.
Director of Facilities Lou DiPadova and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Charles Murphy spoke on the benefits of utilizing natural gas instead of oil throughout the district, including the potential to cut major costs in the long run.
"We have five buildings with the ability to convert rather easily to natural gas," said Murphy. "It seems like a number of years ago the district looked into it and LIPA was unable to, but recently, it seems that we could complete the conversion. When you look at the price of gas and the price of oil now, it's such a difference."
In other news, middle school principal Roger Bloom sat in front of the board to speak about the annual sixth grade trip to Greenkill. The event has been budgeted for five days and four nights but the district has seen a major decline in attendance in recent years and decided to cut it down to four days, three nights.
For more in-depth feedback, Bloom sent out a survey to current fifth grade families asking whether or not their children would attend next year and provided a space for additional comments as to why.
"We wanted to get a feel for next year," said Bloom. "We have 164 students and we received 139 surveys back. We received 30 'no' and nine "maybe" responses, but we don't know if that could change."
The board questioned if it was worth it to continue the field trip if such a large percentage of students stay home, but the contract for the upcoming year was already signed. Bloom said he is hoping to educate families further with a seminar about the trip prior to registration.
Finally, Murphy shared the concern of a district parent who was less than satisfied with the options in the cafteria vending machines. In 2006, the district altered their cafeterias to abide by the New York State Wellness Policy, but Murphy did agree that some of the choices are still not the healthiest.
"This particular parent saw there were some juices being served in the vending machines and she thought they were very unhealthy," said Murphy. "We've checked again and all of our choices meet the policy instituted by New York State."
"I'm not saying that all of these snacks are deemed healthy or all natural, but they meet the policy," he added. "Other districts have added an entire healthy vending machine, but many of the companies pull the machines because the children choose the other options and they don't make any money. Some parents have alternative views and will give their child the option to have that extra snack and that's what they choose."
In light of the complaint and in effort to provide healthier options for the community, Murphy and the board decided that they will do a trial run with an entire machine stocked with strictly healthy eats and see how the vending company responds.
The Levittown School District recently approved a vending machine contract with a company that makes healthier snacks.