Hempstead school district focuses on grades, curriculum

Raising the graduation rate and student test scores, improving the curriculum, stabilizing the system’s financial position and addressing overcrowding are among top priorities the Hempstead school district plans to tackle this school year .

The goals were outlined in an updated action plan the district submitted to state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia as it moves into its second year with special adviser Jack Bierwirth, named by Elia to help turn around the largest K-12 system in Nassau County.

“We work every day to fulfill our motto of ‘Students first’ and we are confident that our priority list reflects that commitment,” school board President LaMont Johnson said in an emailed statement. “We know we have a lot of work to do, but having a game-winning plan is the first step to getting there.”

Bierwirth, a veteran Long Island educator, was appointed by Elia in fall 2017. In his role as “distinguished educator,” he serves as a nonvoting board member, assessing difficulties in the 8,000-plus student system and reporting back to the commissioner.

On Oct. 2, Elia extended Bierwirth’s appointment for a second one-year term and called on the Hempstead school board to “develop a revised action plan to address significant areas of concern and ensure they are priorities of the district.”

The plan, created over the last few weeks by the five-member board and Acting Superintendent Regina Armstrong, also outlines what the board would like Bierwirth to work on with them for the remaining 11 months of his appointment.

The state Education Department on Monday confirmed its receipt of the plan and said it is being reviewed.

Bierwirth, noting the board’s “excellent discussion” of the action plan, said, “I was very glad to see the board come together and spend a lot of time focusing on the priorities that need to be addressed over the next year. I really appreciated all of the time and attention given to instructional issues.”