Most school board meetings host guest speakers that hash out topics like capital budgets, building improvements and statistics.
School District 18’s Community Education Council (CEC) briefly veered away from routine stats when guest presenter Harry Peralta, from the NYC Department of Healthy Homes Program, offered information on bedbugs during the council’s Zoom meeting, which was held on Monday, April 3rd.
The epidemic of bloodsucking bedbugs has reportedly increased since 2004, when the height of the infestation first hit the Big Apple. New Yorkers were constantly “bugging out” – checking and trashing their mattresses and pillowcases on a regular basis, as health guidelines recommended. The outbreak also resulted in the legal mandate from the city’s Sanitation Department for residents to seal their mattresses in plastic before being placed at curbside for pickup.
Peralta showcased different types of bedbugs and what they look like up close – with a balloon-like reddish appearance – and how an infestation can be recognized. He also showed various kinds of rashes and itchy welts humans can suffer if they’ve been bitten by these creepy appleseed-sized bugs that are wingless and, hence, cannot fly.
“You’d be surprised to know that bedbugs don’t discriminate when it comes to where they nest and take over,” he said. “They can infest large million-dollar apartments and homes that are super clean, not just small, dirty and cluttered environments.”
While mattresses are the prime location for these pests to multiply, the specialist also said “hot spots” include flat surfaces with tight coverings like outlet covers, couch cushions, recliners and places which are close to their “meals” (human flesh).
Peralta’s outreach and education comes with over 13 years of experience as an exterminator and says the best way to combat bugs is professional intervention and being vigilant when traveling.
“Also, don’t bring furniture from the streets into your home, which may seem like a common knowledge tactic to stop their spread,” he concluded.
District 18 Superintendent Celeste Terry then gave her monthly report on district-wide attendance, which is coming back up. According to Terry’s report, by June 2023, District 18’s chronic absenteeism rate (equaling 10% of school days with chronic absence during the school year) will decrease by at least 5% from the 2021-2022 end-of-year rate – from 41.7% down to 36%.
“What we’re trying to express to parents to get our attendance up is that if your child truly isn’t sick and they’re out of school for so many days at a time, they’re missing days of education,” the focused educator stated to dozens of callers on the session.
Terry is also excited about the upcoming Town Hall Meeting with NYC Schools Chancellor David C. Banks, who will be speaking to District 18 on May 8th at P.S./I.S. 66, located at 845 East 96th Street, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. The superintendent wants all parents within the District, which covers 20 public schools, to spread the word of the prestigious visit to generate a large turnout – and so their concerns can be addressed by Chancellor Banks in a public setting.
Sad news was also delivered, as Terry added that District 18 is mourning the passing of a special teacher at P.S. 219 Kennedy King Elementary School at 1060 Clarkson Avenue. Valerie King, who passed away the first weekend in April, was a well-loved 2nd-grade teacher.
The next meeting of CEC 18 will be held on Monday, May 1st at 7 p.m. via Zoom. Call the District office for details at 718-566-6011. Parents and guests who would like to send their questions to Chancellor Banks in advance of the May Town Hall Meeting are encouraged to e-mail the board at firstname.lastname@example.org.