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JAI Swap March on Town Hall Redux

Meryl Otis Kessler leads the charge

Roughly 60 adults and children marched from Hecksher Park to Huntington’s Town Hall today carrying signs asking Town Council members to trade locations with the children in Jack Abrams Intermediate School (JAI) in order to keep the children safe and at the same time reverse the deterioration of Huntington Station.   Meryl Otis Kessler, a mother of two in the district, led the procession, which included the three Board of Education officials who have been most vocal about their safety concerns for JAI students.  The trustees marching today were John Paci, Rich McGrath and Liz Black who all voted “No“  to keeping children in the school for a unified sixth grade center.   They were overruled by the other four trustees who voted in favor of moving all sixth graders in the district to JAI and putting all 4th and 5th graders into Woodhull Elementary.

BOE members John Paci and Liz Black say move the JAI kids to Town Hall

Although the mission was serious the tone of the rally was positive.  Many people have found new friends over the past school year, united by the common goal of providing the district’s children an excellent and safe education. Meryl Otis Kessler, with bullhorn in hand, made it clear that today’s march was all for the town’s children and took the opportunity to speak to the children in attendance about the importance of doing the right thing, standing up for what you believe and told them that they will be safe because their parents and community are doing everything they can to ensure a safe school environment.  The children responded with cheers and games of tag and trying to get themselves on TV or in the papers.

Kids rally

Meryl spoke for about ten minutes reiterating why the residents found themselves once again on the front lawn of Town Hall. “We are here today for one reason and one reason only, the safety of our school community. Not school AND community but school community because they are one and the same” she said. She named each town Council member asking for them to hold to their promises of stemming the crime and violence in Huntington Station and keeping our children safe. She added, “keeping them at JAI is not our option!”  She called out to the Town,”We are the only school in this district whose children cannot go outside for gym class the only school whose field is occupied with police presence during recess, the one school in our district that requires police presence at arrival and dismissal”. Councilman Mark Mayoka came outside to talk to residents at the rally. At Mayoka’s community meeting on Wednesday night at JAI, Mayoka stated that he has absolutely no problem moving his office into JAI and the town currently has an architect undertaking a feasibility report to determine if moving JAI students to Town Hall is feasible or not.

Meryl made a promise that these parents and concerned residents will keep the pressure on the Town because, “pressure makes diamonds and this town can be a diamond.”   The rally responded enthusiastically to Kessler’s speech.  In conclusion, Meryl proclaimed,  “We are energized and we will not rest until our children are safe.”

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35 comments to JAI Swap March on Town Hall Redux

  • Andy Michaels

    Thank you Meryl for being brave enough to voice what so many of us feel in the community but do not have the strength to shout about it. I will never send my child into harms way by having her attend JAI. As others have said there are options and we will take one of those options for 6th grade.

    Huntington is a wonderful town filled with great diversity. Diversity creates power and the potential to create greatness.

    If it wasn’t for the blemish of JAI I do believe that many more would seek SD3. It is no secret, you hear people say they love Huntington but are very cautious about moving here due to the location of JAI.

    However, now all of SD3 is in the same boat. No more will it be I’m not moving to this place or that place because it goes to JAI. What you might hear is I’m not moving to SD3.

    If you think that your child is safe by sending them into the area with police presence I highly recommend you look at the statistics for crime there. If you think all the homicides are published you are sorely mistaken.

    How many more gunshots on the bus route at 2:30 PM is it going to take for the board to say enough is enough or is it going to take a bullet penetrating a school bus window? It’s beyond pathetic…

  • Mike

    I have come to the realization (finally) that there is no talking to or trying to reason with those who want the school closed. They will find an argument for every idea put out there that they don’t want to hear. My advice is to stay away from all of the negative, drama filled lies that are spreading throughout our community and hope all of the unhappy people will accept the change that is occurring or leave.

  • sallysue

    I do not understand why they dont just have a vote on election night, then we can vote as a UNITED COMMUNITY if we feel the 6th grade center is a good idea or a bad idea, We can vote on JAI staying a school or opening as a community center or whatever else I have been hearing about in these talks.

  • Southdown mom

    I have just heard that the 6th grade center is now going to be at Woodhull and the 4th and 5th graders will be housed at JAI. Does anyone know if this is true? I heard that this solves the crowding issue. Please advise.

  • Anonymous

    you need to stop spreading rumors-6th gr center is happening at JAI not WH. Did you receive a letter or phone call from the Superintendent telling you otherwise? If not it’s a rumor.

    “Sally Sue”-They don’t put out to a public vote school board issues. That is why you elect a BOE. I suggest all the previously uninvolved parents come to meet the candidates tonight so you can make an informed decision as to who you want to represent you to make district decision.

    This was not the first re zoning done in this district. It was done last in 1991-previous to that FH went to WH so no one is ever immune to going to any SD#3 school based on where you live. Any real estate agent will tell you that.

    It’s time to move on-it’s a done deal. If you think JAI is unsafe for any child, then get on the band wagon and do something about it like these protesting Mommies!!

    Again I am sure it’s been said before a billion times-

  • Bluto

    Voting in favor of the first budget proposal is like voting for a Tabasco enema. It just makes you a flaming a**hole.

    You WILL get a better offer when they go for a second try,

  • soutdown mom

    bluto, you are laugh out loud funny!!! you and mr clogman can run for office.

  • Southdown mom

    I love Tyrone!!! You are smart and funny, a lethal combo. Are you good looking to?

  • Vito DeBudgit

    We are getting a group of folks from Huntington together who don’t have kids in school to vote no for the budget. So far we have about 250 or so on board and we are growing fast. They are fed up too. Please join us and just say NO to the budget. No to JAI for any kids! Make a statement and stand up for your rights!!

  • Bluto

    Go Vito! Vote like an American. The meek may inherit the earth but by then it will be run by Euroweenie socialists. The board will make us a better offer after we give their first attempt is a failing grade.

  • Vito DeBudgit

    Okay, so we have gained some momentum after last nights BOE meeting at JAI!! Thanks for all the support from the non-student groups all over the district!! Keep it coming. We are growing in numbers and at last count we have slightly over 300 VOTE NO to the budget votes confirmed. Good start but…we need more!! It looks like they will be keeping kids at JAI with the 6th grade center and parents are fed up, together with those parents we can make this VOTE NO a reality!! They don’t care about those kids and it’s a shame but why are they our responsibility?? We pay enough tax already, just say NO!

  • Joe

    Those of you voting down the budget are acting like spoiled children who have been told “No” and are now going to have a temper tantrum. Maybe if you hold your breath and stamp your feet, they will change the sixth grade center. Voting the budget down does not change the inevitable, but will impose severe hardship on every child in the district, including yours. Your bad behavior is more worrisome than anything happening at JAI. It is quite sad to me to see how selfish, short-sighted and mean spirited so many of you are. And for those of you worried about the value of your homes, there are only the bad things about Huntington in the media these days, none of the positive. Go on the school website and see the wonderful things that are happening in our district.

  • school taxes

    Joe, There are some people who live in Huntington who think a 3.6% increase in school taxes is a bad thing. I am planning on voting “no” because I would like to see if board can trim a few things. All hail the Huntington Arts and Music program, but really? We spend more per child than any district in the greater town of Huntington yet our test scores are the worst. Maybe it’s time to focus on education. I do not want an austerity budget, but I do want to see what the scond budget cuts out. I am not holding my breath or stamping my feet about the creation of a sixth grade center. There are many people (myself included)in SD#3 who are unaffected by that decision who still think the increases to the budget are unnecessary, irresponsible, and out of touch with today’s economy.

  • Vito

    Calm down sound upset. Relax… LOL

  • Anonymous

    Voting the budget down does nothing but hurt the future of our childrens education. We have wonderful programs in HUFSD that help all types of children reach their full potential (from strong special ed, ESL, Advanced Studies, Music, Sports, etc). Voting the budget down hurts all of these children, which in turn trickles down into our community, property values, etc. STAND STRONG, FIGHT FOR YOUR SCHOOLS AND YOUR TOWN. If the police and TOWN BOARD (not school board) WERE MORE VIGILANT IN THEIR JOBS WE WOULD NOT BE IN THIS MESS. TAKE YOUR ANGER OUT ON FRANK!

  • Sally

    Petrone is a master politican an that has played all you parents well. You are distracted from the safety of your children at Jack Abrams – yet would have a community center there for your children! Where will the safety come from? Where will the money come from. District 3 is a disaster we are overtaxed, overcrowded and are dumped on with Section 8 and illegal housing. GLenda Jackson has resolution to increase accessory apartments in district 3. These apts will not be paying school taxes just a fee. You and I will be paying for these extra children. No other district in Huntington township has our problems. Everyone focus – stop being played by TOH GANG OF 4.

  • disgusted parent

    The center would be for the residents of Huntington Station. My kids don’t need it!

  • Sally

    Center already exists:
    great program run by Debbie Rimler.
    go to: wwww.TRICYA.ORG

  • Huntington Booster Club

    Dear Huntington Booster Club Member,

    The school budget vote is
    Tuesday, May 18, 2010 6:00am-9:00pm at Huntington High School.

    We are asking everyone to vote. The last few months have been very difficult for the town of Huntington and the Huntington School District. Emotions and fear have run high and parents are very unhappy.

    As an organization that was established to support the athletic programs at Huntington High School and Finley Middle School, we would like to take this time to clarify how failure to pass the budget will effect athletics.

    If the budget fails on May 18 the athletic department may be directed to cut over $300,000 from its budget. That is one-third of the overall athletic budget. Many, if not all the athletic programs will be cut from Finley . The cuts will continue at the High School. Starting with the JV and working its way up. There is no team that is not in jeopardy.

    If the budget fails again there will be more dramatic cuts at the High School. These cuts will decimate our athletic programs. Once these cuts are made it will take over 10 years to restore Huntington Athletics to its current level.

    The Deputy Commissioner from The New York State Education Department has ruled that a school district lacked the authority to require students to pay a fee, “Pay to Play”, or make donations to participate in interscholastic athletics. Also, a group cannot raise the money to fund an individual sport that was cut. This will make it very difficult to find alternative ways to pay for sports.

    The Huntington Booster Club feels that everyone should be aware of the facts before they vote. Thank you and remember to vote.

    The Huntington Booster Club Board

  • to disgusted parent

    Your kids don’t need it…why??? You drop them in the village? They are better than the huntington station kids??? what a statement. now i’m disgusted!

  • Sally

    Sewer overflowing at Woodhull and children having to be bused out. This is just the beginning of sewer problems. Woodhull is overcrowded presently and with the Jack A children attending, module classrooms the sewer problems will increase. I don’t think the board looked at increases in toliet usage with more children added to Woodhull with the switch. How can our children learn in district 3? We have low scores mostly due to section 8, dumping of illegals, illegal apts and now the children may have health problems due to over flowing toliets. Has anyone contacted Suffolk County Health Department for inspection before the children return?

  • M

    The is absolutely insane. Woodhull will be so overcrowded next year it will be a worse safety hazard then JAI. Vote the budget down and send a message to the BOE. Now truly everybody will have some skin in the game.

  • Future WH Family

    Everyone has their own agenda. Mine is Woodhull. A sixth grade center is fine by me.What kind of shape will next years 4th and 5th grades be in after a year in a overcrowed school with limited art and music. The portables might not even be in by Christmas.Dr Card says things will be difficult.How about a solution that doesn’t throw any students under the bus.

  • lauren

    That is why i suggested a transition year. It would put almost 200 less students at WH in Sept. The current JAI 4th gr could stay at JAI in Sept. All plans for 6th gr ctr would still stand. Make sense?Write a letter. To the BOE, to Finello they already know about it and are discussing it’s feasibility.

  • Vote No

    A 6th grade center at JAI is unacceptable. Don’t you people get it?


    A 6th gr ctr at JAI is happening. Don’t you people get it?


    The BOE said they did this for unity, what a joke. It has had just the opposite effect. Grow a spine and vote down this budget. Save Huntington!

  • Save Huntington Means..VOTE YES

    If you want to “save Huntington” vote yes!!!

  • Realtor

    Anyone who votes down the budget is only hurting themselves. Whether you have a younger child in the district or are a retired homeowner. What makes our kids special is the well rounded education they recieve here. Whether its the arts, sports, special ed, or advanced classes Huntington School District offers it. Take away those components and you have kids with no outlet for creativity, kids hanging out getting into trouble, and decreased property values. So either vote yes now or get your house on the market FAST!


    Great, educational and child rearing advice from a real estate agent, what next ethics advice from a lawyer? If we vote down the budget they will not have the money for the “reconfiguration” and we stop them in their tracks. Let the BOE come back with a genuine plan and will can vote up the second budget . Disaster averted.

  • Nice try Town Supervisor!

    Vote yes on Tuesday!

    But on Monday, use your energy to combat the Town of Huntington Board members at the meeting at Town Hall on May 17 to find out where the section 8 housing and the “affordable housing” is on Jericho Tpke in “Kensington Estates”. Where is it???? Not there. The Cold Spring Hills, Dix Hills, and Melville civic associations all got “small group meetings” to discuss the future and the layouts of these “senior condos”.

    What???? Dix Hills??? I am pretty sure that the area of interest across from Oheka, on Jericho Tpke (the carved wood carving studio/horse farm) is ALOT closer to Huntington and Huntington Station than Dix Hills… Where is my “small group meeting”?

    You are kidding me about this development, Town Board, right? That “community center” better have a biligual cruise director that can help navigate all the affordable housing that SHOULD be going there. Someone in the article TODAY in the Long Islander even said, “this is a much-needed housing type”. Really? Luxury condos?

    If you want to develop “Kensington Estates, over 55 complex” you’d better throw some affordable housing and section 8 in there to get it OUT of Huntington and Huntington Station.

    Cold Spring Hills, its YOUR TURN!!!!

    After you attend this Town Board meeting on Monday, May 17 at 7PM, wake up and go vote YES for Huntington School District 3 budget!


    If you vote yes to the budget it takes all the pressure off Town Hall and the BOE. It’s what they are banking on. Don’t let their fear tactics get to you. We can still stop this.

  • vote yes for kids

    I’m voting…and I’m voting yes…not for my child alone…for every child in this district and every homeowner who has an interest in sticking around Huntington. VOTE YES FOR KIDS.

  • Eddie

    I saw this ridiculous “March” as I was walking. You people are so full of it@!

    First off JAI is a fine school. Just because there was a shooting near bye means absolutely nothing. GIVE ME A BREAK!!!

    Thanks for not telling anyone On Jackson Ave, Boutin Ave or Irwin Place about your plan. Not only would it destroy our community it would destroy the property value of our houses!

    You would need a variance to turn that building back into a school. Something that TOWN HALL will never grant. I guarantee you we will fight each and everyone one of you that tried to do it! Even if I had to sue the parents individually.

    Next time, consult some of the people who’s lives you want to destroy!!!!

  • mad at eddie!

    Eddie, you small minded litigious man. How dare you say that the people at that march want to destroy lives. How about we want to save childrens lives by MOVING the school. You move your small minded butt into the school.

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