HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A report is out sizing up a long-struggling school district.
The Hempstead district has been under the watch of a state monitor for over a year, and now that monitor has offered tempered optimism, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Tuesday.
The eyes and ears of New York state, Jack Bierwirth was appointed a “distinguished educator” in one the most struggling school districts in the nation. His year-end report, however, cites progress in Hempstead.
“Progress in a lot of areas, but a long, long ways from success. They’ve got a lot more to do,” Bierwirth said.
His report notes a move toward a curriculum, where there has been none, improved security, business functions and facilities that crumbled for years.
“Things are being fixed, boilers are being maintained,” Bierwirth said.
That’s not a given in a school district where some middle school classes had no heat for a week.
“He said, ‘Mommy, I had to keep my coat on. It was freezing. I felt like we were outside,'” parent Peggy Perkins said.
WATCH: CBS2 Documentary “37%”
Hempstead’s struggles are detailed in our CBS2 documentary, “37%,” which refers to that abysmal graduation rate from June 2017.
Bierwirth puts this year’s combined June and August graduation rate at 51 percent, but with a history of grade changing, does he believe the numbers?
“The state is watching this school district intensely,” Bierwirth said. “Anybody would be nuts to try to fiddle with things at this point.”
He also credits the school board with addressing corruption, referring cases to the district attorney.
Gusoff: “With the history of this district, alleged corruption, alleged patronage, incompetence for decades, what makes you confident the people I charge are up to this job?”
“I don’t think that’s the assumption there. I am focusing on actions,” Bierwirth said.
Bierwirth revealed there were times this year he despaired over whether the district could turn itself around. He said it’s going to take five to 10 years of sustained, focused work. There is no short-term easy fix.
The board has 45 days now to come up with a revised plan of action based on the distinguished educator’s report.