The got an earful of complaints Wednesday night about drinking, vandalism, fighting and other bad behavior on the part of students in the neighborhood around the high school.
Numerous residents stepped to the microphone at the board meeting to tell the board and district administrators that they had witnessed students drinking or using drugs before and after school, vandalizing or breaking into cars, smashing bottles on the street and getting in to fights.
Nick Diaz, who lives next to school, led the parade of speakers who complained and asked for solutions.
"We have problems with safety, a multitude of problems, speeding, blowing through lights," he said. "If you live there you’d be up here making these complaints. We’re having an issue here. We’ve hit our limit.
"The behavior and conduct they’re displaying is atrocious. If any of you’d to spend some time and stand there with me," he said to board members, they would see the problem, which neighbors said occurred on and off school property.
Diaz and others cited a lack of gates to keep students off school property after hours, and one said students were entering school property, including a dimly lit parking lot, at night.
Other speakers wanted students to park in lots instead of on the street and objected to school rules that reserved the lot for seniors.
Several said they had called school security and police repeatedly but the problems persist. "We call the police, they come, the kids run away and come back an hour later," one woman said. The police "are on a restricted a budget, they can’t really do anything about it either."
Another neighbor said, "The school yard is my backyard. I have heard atrocious language; in the summertime, I can’t sleep. It’s impossible. They're cursing to holy hell, pardon the expression."
Most speakers said problems in the area had worsened in the last three to five years and one man who had several complaints said, "I love Farmingdale but if I could sell my house now, I would."
Cindy March, another neighbor, said, "With those kids blowing through stop signs it’s not safe; they’re smoking, they're drinking. I’m a victim in my own home. It’s your responsiblity to do something."
Board member Kathy Lively told the crowd, "Your concerns are being heard. We appreciate your coming down."
Superintendent John Lorentz said the district would work with neighbors and others, including police, to find solutions. When one man wondered where he could find Lorentz's phone number, the superintendent provided it while noting that it was on the school website and school newsletters and said, to laughter, "I couldn't hide if I wanted to."
The board meets Tuesday at 8 p.m. for a public hearing on the budget. The public vote on the budget is set for May 15.