State education official: Hempstead's progress 'is a rebirth, it's a reframing'

The New York State Board of Regents chancellor issued positive and encouraging words Thursday directed toward officials in the Hempstead School District.

After decades of being blasted for poor student performance, Chancellor Betty Rosa said, "It's a rebirth, it's a reframing."

State officials and Hempstead school leaders toured several buildings today.

Roger Tilles, who has been a regent for 15 years, says Hempstead has occupied his time more than any other district on the Island. Tilles says he is encouraged by several things happening in the district.

Some of the improvements include reinstating art programs and adding after-school programs. The most notable improvement, however, is that the graduation rate has jumped from 39 percent to 60 percent over the last two years.

"Yes we are moving forward," says Regina Armstrong, acting interim superintendent. "We are making progress."

While officials agree things are improving, they all say legislation is still needed to affect some change in the district.

The Board of Regents and state lawmakers are still pushing for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign legislation that would make the state Education Department intervene in Hempstead and create a three-person state monitoring board.