NY education commissioner visits struggling Hempstead SD

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New York state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia on Friday visited the long-struggling Hempstead School District.

Elia had a day filled with closed-door meetings with Hempstead school board members, district officials and parents. The meetings followed a report from state-appointed special adviser to the district Jack Bierwirth.

In the report, Bierwirth concluded that while the Hempstead School District has a long way to go to be considered successful, there has been progress made in the struggling district.

According to the report: Graduation rates for the high school class of 2018 are significantly higher than the prior year, when only 51 percent of students graduated; all seven elementary schools are offering music instruction, up from only one last year; and math and ELA test scores for grades three through eight are up for the second year in a row.

The report also called the budget and fiscal operations some of most troubling issues facing the district, but noted changes in the right direction, like completing year-end financial reports on time.

Elia says her visit is an effort to work with the district to build on the positive changes.

Parents say they're optimistic about the changes and they hope it means better educational outcomes for their kids.

The district report notes that disputes between adults on the school board and within the administration were obstacles to progress in the district. State officials said Friday they hope that in the future, board members and administrators will keep the focus on improving the district for the benefit of students.

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