Farmingville piano triggers debate over school gifts

The Board of Education voted to accept a gift of $4,995 to purchase a new piano for Farmingville Elementary School Monday, May 14.

The money, raised by the school’s parent teacher association, raised some concern among board members who worried the funds went against the district’s policy for accepting gifts.

“This should have been in the budget,” said vice chairman Doug Silver.

He explained that the instrument will replace a worn-out piano the school already owns, and therefore Farmingville should have budgeted for a replacement.

Silver said the gift was “inconsistent” with the board’s policy.

But other board members said the gift was allowed, since it would be used in after-school programs and plays — not just daily lessons.

“Conversely, if we just had our pianos, they would get a lot of wear and tear if they needed to be used for extracurriculars,” said board member Kathleen Holz.

In a letter to the board, Farmingville Principal Susan Gately said the piano was a necessity for the school music program, and that it would replace a 50-year-old piano that can no longer hold its tune.

Silver ultimately voted in favor of accepting the gift but indicated it was the last gift he would accept that didn’t strictly adhere to the board’s policy.

The seven members of the board present at the meeting all voted to accept the gift. Board members Tracey O’Connor and Jim Keidel were absent from the meeting.

“I don’t feel comfortable kicking the gift horse in the mouth,” Holz said.