Times of Huntington-Northport

Northport Interim Superintendent Thomas Caramore discusses a controversial budget matter on Wednesday night. Photo by Rohma Abbas

There will be no funding for the Northport-East Northport school district’s visual arts chairperson in next year’s proposed $159.6 million spending plan, despite pleas from students and parents to protect a position they claim is key to student arts success.

The majority of school board members backed Interim Superintendent Thomas Caramore’s recommendation to nix funding for the position, currently held by Julia Lang-Shapiro, and to have both the music and visual art departments managed by music chairperson Izzet Mergen — a structure that exists at other school districts, Caramore has said. The board voted to finalize the budget at a special meeting on Wednesday night, where members of the public once again tried to persuade board members to keep Lang-Shapiro’s position intact, or to at least hold off on making a decision until new Superintendent Robert Banzer joined the district next year.

But some members said they were not interested in “kicking the can” down the road, and a majority of the board felt that the arts department would weather the change unscathed.

“What I hear again and again and again is a fear,” Trustee Lori McCue said. “A fear that by making this change the program won’t be the same for the students.”

Eleni Russell and 4-year-old daughter Sophia thank the school board for including full-day kindergarten in next year's budget. Photo by Rohma Abbas
Eleni Russell and 4-year-old daughter Sophia thank the school board for including full-day kindergarten in next year’s budget. Photo by Rohma Abbas

McCue said that she isn’t in favor of adding the position back into the budget “because I think we can do better than that.” Instead, the district needs to work to make the transition smooth and to ensure arts students continue to get great opportunities.

“I think as a board and a community, we can do this, and I’m willing to try it,” McCue said.

For Trustee David Badanes, the decision to back Caramore came down to logic. He reasoned that other chairpersons at the district manage departments of 30 to 40 teachers, while the visual arts chairperson oversees a department of 14 teachers. Combining arts and music teachers would bring the merged department up to 41 teachers, a more reasonable number to warrant a chairperson, he said.

“Also, it is the teachers and their excellence that gives children opportunities, and I do not believe that our art department, nor our music department, will suffer in any other way,” Badanes said. “So it’s not about the money for me, it’s about clear logic.”

President Julia Binger noted that as the board’s trustees, they are entrusted with taxpayer money and from a financial standpoint, “It’s the right decision.”

Those on the other side of the issue don’t quite see it that way. Trustee Stephen Waldenburg Jr., the lone board member to oppose the consolidation, said he was concerned about the impact on students.

“Several weeks ago I said I thought this idea troubled me and I’m still very concerned,” he said. “And I will be honest with you, I didn’t want this. I think that I’ve heard what people said. They’re very concerned about the program. And that’s what we’re here for. It’s to protect the program for the kids.”

Waldenburg added that if the position is to be removed, the district “must allow for the protection of the program in some form,” such as appointing a special assistant to Mergen, or designating a teacher in charge of arts opportunities.

“We owe it to this community,” he said “We owe it to our children. And we owe it to the history of Northport.”

At the same meeting, the board finalized the district’s 2016-17 budget, which represents a roughly 0.3 percent increase over this year’s spending plan, Assistant Superintendent for Business Kathleen Molander said. The district proposes increasing its tax levy by about 1.3 percent, which is below its state-mandated 1.81 percent cap on its tax levy increase.

Northport school board Trustee Stephen Waldenburg Jr. opposes a consolidation of the district's music and visual arts departments. Photo by Rohma Abbas
Northport school board Trustee Stephen Waldenburg Jr. opposes a consolidation of the district’s music and visual arts departments. Photo by Rohma Abbas

The district will receive more state aid than it had anticipated — to the tune of about $800,000 in additional funds, Caramore said. The district will use that money, in part, to spare its reserves — officials had planned to use $506,000 from reserves to reduce the tax levy, but will now substitute that sum with state aid.

The school board also approved a second proposition for May’s ballot, on whether to spend nearly $1.2 million out of the district’s capital reserves on three projects: paving the Northport High School parking lot; replacing lighting in the East Northport Middle School auditorium; and replacing two boilers at Norwood Avenue Elementary School.

The budget already includes $1.95 million in capital projects — replacing three boilers, exterior bleachers and the press box at the high school.

One of the most significant aspects of next year’s budget is the inclusion of full-day kindergarten, a program many parents had sought for years. Two East Northport residents, Eleni Russell and her 4-year-old daughter Sophia Russell, got up to thank the board for adding the program.

“This is one of the faces of hopefully full-day kindergarten next year,” Russell said, with her daughter clinging to her side. Sophia also took the microphone and uttered a small “thank you,” to which the room burst into applause.

Steven Leventhal, attorney to the ethics board, spearheads a work session this week. Photo by Rohma Abbas

Huntington Town officials took steps to strengthen the town’s ethics code by discussing various revisions during a work session Tuesday.

Mulling nearly a dozen residents’ suggestions at its annual meeting in March, Huntington Town’s Board of Ethics & Financial Disclosure discussed topics ranging from campaign finance disclosures, prices of penalties for ethics code violations and how frequently the board should meet during the year.

Training town employees and officials in the town’s ethics code and creating a “plain language” guide to the code are some suggestions board members said they are considering.

Chairman Howard Glickstein and members Lois C. England and Ralph Crafa attended the work session at Huntington Town Hall, as did Steven G. Leventhal, of Leventhal, Cursio, Mullaney & Spector, LLP — the board’s counsel.

Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D) listened on in the audience.

Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) directed Edwards to spearhead ethics code revisions. She said she plans to have a proposal for town ethics code tweaks in place at the April 21 town board meeting.

Board members said they agreed that creating what Leventhal termed a “plain language” guide to ethics was a good idea. Leventhal noted that the guide, which could be distributed as a small booklet handout to town employees and officials, would have both a simple, clear explanation of what’s right and wrong under the town’s code, and would, in the back, include the actual town ethics code. Ethics board members said they liked the suggestion.

“In my view it’s a great valuable service to the town workforce, to prepare and distribute a plain language guide that helps them interpret the language of the law itself,” Leventhal said. “The plain language guide does not replace the law and must, of course, remind readers that it is the law itself that controls, but that the plain language guide was developed to assist them in interpreting the law and to encourage them to bring any questions to the board of ethics.”

Ethics training of town employees and officials also earned consensus from board members.

“I regard it really as one of the most important functions of the board of ethics,” Leventhal said.
Board members also said they’d be in favor of increasing the penalty for an ethics violation, which is currently $5,000. Residents asked the board to consider holding meetings quarterly instead of annually. Leventhal said as the board’s work increases — possibly through increased ethics training of employees and officials — the board would meet more frequently.

Tom McNally, who spoke on behalf of the Huntington Republican Committee, called for mandatory training in ethics code for all town officials and employees. He also said all ethics complaints filed with the town clerk should be made public, as well as all decisions of the ethics board, how they voted and whether any ethics board members recused themselves from a vote.

“That was very, very well put together,”  board member England reflected.

Leventhal did, however, take issue with making all ethic complaints public, noting that in the early stages of an ethics investigation it “may be premature and ultimately unjust” to publicize the complaint. Many times, complaints are not actual violations — a complainant may allege someone was rude to him or her — but while “rudeness is bad,” it’s not a violation of the code, he said.

Edwards commended the board’s work in an interview after the meeting, saying she was “really pleased with what we heard.”

File photo.

A pedestrian was killed in a crash with a federal vehicle while walking along the highway on Wednesday night.

According to the Suffolk County Police Department, the man had been walking west on the Long Island Expressway, west of Exit 49 for Route 110 in Melville, at 10:30 p.m. when a U.S. Postal Service tractor trailer hit him.

After notifying his family, police later identified the pedestrian as 52-year-old Melville resident Stephen Puleo.

The truck’s driver, Northport resident Russell A. Davenport, 62, was not hurt, remained at the scene and attempted to assist Puleo.

A physician assistant from the Suffolk County medical examiner’s office pronounced Puleo dead at the scene.

Police also performed a safety check on the vehicle at the scene.

Anyone who may have witnessed the crash is asked to call the SCPD’s 2nd Squad, whose detectives are investigating the case, at 631-854-8252. All calls will remain confidential.

Dodge ATM
On March 27, a resident of Market Street in Port Jefferson Station reported that a wallet had been removed from a 1997 Dodge Ram.

Dial S for stolen
Two unknown males stole a cell phone from a victim on Main Street in Port Jefferson Station. According to police, the incident occurred at around 4:30 a.m. on March 27.

Unlocked
A resident of Lincoln Avenue in Port Jefferson Station reported cash had been stolen from a wallet that was left in an unlocked 1997 Honda on March 25.

Jeepers!
A 2011 Jeep was stolen from a residence on Crescent Drive in Port Jefferson Station. Police were notified of the grand larceny on March 25.

Tased and confused
A 48-year-old Port Jefferson man was arrested for resisting arrest and criminal possession of stolen property on March 29. Police said the man was found at 7-Eleven on Old Town Road in possession of a stolen 1994 Jeep Wrangler, and lunged at an officer when confronted. The officer deployed their TASER.

Faking it
A resident of Thames Street in Port Jefferson Station fell victim to identity theft, and notified police on March 23 that an unknown person had used personal info and made financial transactions.

Keg stand
An unknown person or persons removed an empty beer keg from Port Jefferson-based Schafer’s storage yard on March 25.

Needed directions
An unknown person took a GPS, cash and paperwork from an unlocked 2008 Honda on Sheep Pasture Road in Port Jefferson on March 24.

Double the drugs
A 25-year-old Port Jefferson Station man was arrested in Port Jefferson on drug charges on March 26 after police found him seated in a 2004 Chevy with an electronic smoking device that contained marijuana. In addition, police discovered cocaine in his possession.

Off-roading
A 48-year-old Mount Sinai woman was arrested on multiple charges on March 25, after police said she drove a 2002 Mercury Mountaineer in reverse and into a neighboring home on Osborne Avenue in Mount Sinai. The woman was charged with reckless driving, reckless endangerment and criminal mischief.

Feeling deflated
A woman reported her 2005 Honda Accord’s two rear tires had been punctured while parked outside the Applebee’s on Route 25A in Miller Place. The incident occurred on March 23.

We’ve been hit!
A resident of Rockledge Court in Rocky Point reported their home had been struck with several paintballs and a window screen had been broken on March 29 between 11:15 a.m. and 12:15 p.m.

Master of disguise
A 32-year-old Rocky Point man was arrested on a false impersonation charge on March 27. Police said the man, who did not have his license on him, was stopped at Prince Road and Harding Street for a traffic violation and gave police a false name.

Smashed
A resident of Harrison Avenue in Centereach reported the window of a 2000 Chrysler had been smashed at some point between March 25 and March 26.

DWI on road to Independence
Police arrested a 53-year-old Centereach man in Selden for aggravated driving while intoxicated after he was involved in a March 29 car crash by Independence Plaza.

Rockin’ Robin
Four Selden residents were arrested on March 27 for criminal possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell. According to police, three men, ages 31, 34, and 43, and a woman, age 33, were arrested at a residence on Robin Road. The defendants had heroin in their possession.

Civic responsibility
A 1997 Honda Civic parked at a residence on Hawkins Road in Centereach was discovered stolen between March 28 and March 29.

Thief won’t listen
Numerous headphones were stolen from the Centereach CVS on Middle Country Road on March 28 between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.

Out of the closet
Two unknown males broke into an apartment on Stanley Drive in Centereach and took items from a bedroom closet on March 23. According to police, the complainant said the men had a handgun and fled through the front door in an unknown direction.

Bad reality check
A 37-year-old man from Brentwood was arrested at the 4th Precinct in Smithtown on March 28 and charged with issuing a bad check while knowing he had insufficient funds. Police said he wrote a bad check to Side Lumber & Supply Co. The man was arrested at about 10 a.m.

Disenchanting
A 25-year-old man from Islip was arrested in Smithtown on March 26 and charged with petit larceny. Police said the man stole Magic the Gathering cards from a location on Route 454 in Islandia on Jan. 28.

Driving outside the lines
A 23-year-old woman from Centereach was arrested in Commack on March 28 and charged with driving while intoxicated. Police said that at about 2:30 a.m. she was driving a 1999 Dodge on Route 14 in Commack when police pulled her over for failing to maintain her lane.

Inn trouble
A 19-year-old man from Brentwood was arrested in Commack on March 28 at 12:30 a.m. and charged with two counts of grand larceny in the fourth degree. Police said he stole more than $1,000 in cash from someone’s wallet at the Commack Motor Inn and stole a credit card from a different person at the inn. He was also charged with unlawful possession of marijuana.

Cut short
Police said a 38-year-old man from Bay Shore was arrested in Commack on March 28 and charged with third-degree burglary. Police said the man stole razors from Costco on Garet Place after being prohibited from entering the store.

Identity stolen, phones purchased
An unknown person used the identity of a Larson Avenue man from Smithtown to purchase cell phones and equipment from Verizon Wireless worth more than $2,400. The crime was reported to happen sometime on March 28 at 7:30 p.m.

Not so safe
A safe was looted on March 28 at Developmental Disabilities Institute on Hollywood Drive in Smithtown.  The cash belonged to the residents of the location.

Window damaged
An unknown person threw a bottle of wine through the rear window of 3 Guy’s Hobbies on Lawrence Avenue in Smithtown. The incident was reported to police on March 28 at 3:05 p.m.

Egged
A Roy Drive home in Nesconset was egged, according to police. The incident was reported on March 29 at 10 p.m.

Mean streets
An incident of road rage took place in St. James on March 25. Police said a male complainant reported that he was driving west on Route 347. As traffic was merging, someone cut him off, he said, and a shouting match between both drivers ensued. The other driver threatened to kill the complainant and then drove away.

Gimme my pizza
Police said two men were arrested in connection to an incident that occurred at Little Vincent’s pizzeria on New York Avenue on March 29. At about 1:29 a.m., a 20-year-old from Commack was arrested and charged with criminal mischief, with intent to damage property, after he punched the front door of the pizzeria after being asked to leave. A 20-year-old from Smithtown was also arrested in connection to the incident and charged with second-degree obstructing governmental administration, as he tried to obstruct officers making an arrest.

Check it
A 34-year-old woman from Melville was arrested in Huntington on March 28 at the 2nd Precinct and charged with third-degree grand larceny. Police said that between Nov. 1 at noon and Dec. 31 at noon, the woman attempted to steal money by altering checks.

What a pill
Police said a 31-year-old man from Huntington was arrested in Huntington and charged with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and third-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. Police said that on the corner of New York Avenue and Gerard Street, on March 27 at 8:26 a.m. he was driving a 2004 Jeep with a suspended or revoked license. The man also possessed prescription pills without a prescription.

Busted with drugs
A 22-year-old woman from East Northport was arrested in Huntington Station and charged with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and loitering. Police said she was loitering at about 11:55 a.m. on March 26 at a location on West Jericho Turnpike, where she was later arrested. She was also found in possession of heroin.

Fake checks
An unknown person took two checks from a Huntington female complainant, forged signatures without permission and attempted to cash them sometime between March 16 at 9 a.m. and March 18 just before midnight. The incident was reported on March 28.

7-Eleven brawl
A male complainant reported that he and another man got into a verbal dispute at 7-Eleven on New York Avenue in Huntington. Both men fell to the ground and got into a fight, and both were transported to Huntington Hospital. The incident was reported on March 26 at 7:40 a.m.

Items stolen
An unknown person entered a 2005 Toyota Tundra on Joseph Court in East Northport and stole sunglasses, a GPS and cash sometime between March 21 at 8 a.m. and March 29 at 8 a.m.

Missing jewelry
Police said assorted jewelry was stolen from a home on Dalton Lane in East Northport sometime between 9 a.m. on March 24  and noon on March 25.

Purse taken
Someone removed a purse containing cash, a driver’s license and a credit card from a 2009 Honda Pilot parked on Croley Street in Greenlawn. The incident was reported on March 28 at 8:23 p.m.

Projects will launch in Huntington Town next week

File photo by Arlene Gross

Crews from PSEG Long Island are expected to launch an eight-month-long project in Huntington Town on Monday in an effort to strengthen the electric grid across Long Island.

Work on the project will follow a three-mile route along an electric line circuit in Huntington, Huntington Station and Cold Spring Harbor, according to a PSEG Long Island statement. The project will be funded through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a federal program that coordinates responses to national disasters.

The more than $729 million for the project were secured for the Long Island Power Authority through an agreement last year between Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and FEMA through FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Assistant Program.

The project will replace existing wire with more weather-resistant wire, install new and durable poles in several locations, and install or replace switching equipment to help reduce the number of customers affected by power outages.

“We are committed to making our transmission and distribution system more resilient, able to better withstand extreme weather events,” David Daly, PSEG Long Island’s president and chief operating officer said in a press release. “Superstorm Sandy has had a lasting impact on our customers, and the recovery and healing is still ongoing.”

The project is expected to implement reinforcements that will help the system in future storms. After Hurricane Sandy, people across Long Island were without power for upward of 10 days. Both Hurricane Sandy and the winter storm that followed in 2013 severely impacted the transmission and distribution system operations, a representative of PSEG Long Island said.

Work on the system will start on or about April 6, Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. While there is the potential for some road closures along the route, PSEG has not said when and where they will be.

Trees that grow near power lines will be trimmed, as they pose a safety risk and increase the chance of power outages. New poles will also be approximately the same height as existing poles but will have a stronger base and be situated a few feet from the current pole.

“After Sandy, we know firsthand how important it is to invest in the infrastructure to fortify it to withstand extreme conditions,” Jon Kaiman, special advisor to Cuomo for storm recovery and chairman of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority said in a press release.

To see a complete list of the project route visit https://www.psegliny.com.

Kings Park’s Ben Variano maintains possession while Harborfields’ Terrence Haggarty tries to knock him off balance. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

The King Park boys’ lacrosse team struck first in a League III matchup on a muddy field in a wet, wintry mix, and led twice early in the game, but Harborfields found its rhythm and stomped over the Kingsmen Tuesday to win the game, 12-4.

Kings Park junior midfielder Jimmy Gadaleta hit the scoreboard first to take an early lead, but Harborfields senior attack Terrence Haggerty answered back with an unassisted goal to tie the game. It was Haggerty’s first of five goals to lead his team in scoring.

With less than five minutes left in the quarter, Kings Park retook the lead when senior attacks Joe Hines and Alex Marino connected on the next play. Hines dished the ball to Marino, who found the cage to retake the lead, 2-1.

Harborfields midfielder Andrew Derasmo fed a cross to Haggerty, who fired between the pipes to tie the game at 2-2 to start the second period.

Kings Park head coach J.M. Simpson said Harborfields runs a solid program and have a system that they’ve been successful with for years.

“We kind of knew what we were going to get ourselves into today, but we didn’t do a very good job of executing our game plan,” he said. “We knew they were going to come out and pressure us and we weren’t able to handle that pressure.”

Kings Park's Jac Cutillo drives around Harborfields’ Connor Bennardo. Photo by Bill Landon
Kings Park’s Jac Cutillo drives around Harborfields’ Connor Bennardo. Photo by Bill Landon

Harborfields senior attack Connor Bennardo struck next when he scored unassisted to put his team back out in front by one. Haggerty, with the hot hand, hit next to edge ahead 4-2 when Kings Park senior midfielder Ray McQuillan answered with a goal of his own off an assist by senior attack Liam Winwood to trail by one, 4-3.

“Today’s game plan was to work hard and beat them to the ground balls and outrun them on the field,” Haggerty said. “In the second half, offensively we got rolling, we scored in transition and with a man up, and we were able to outrun them.”

Both teams had trouble getting traction on a wet, muddy field, but Bennardo scored again to edge ahead 5-3 to end the half.

“From a talent standpoint we’re about even, but I think we outworked them — we got the ground balls and our middies were running all over the place,” Bennardo said. “And that makes us look good on attack, so I can’t thank them enough.”

The second half was all Harborfields, as Haggerty dove around the circle from behind the cage and slipped one in-between the pipes to break out to a 6-3 advantage with seven minutes left in the third.
Harborfields head coach Glenn Lavey chose not to brief his team about Kings Park from a recent scouting report.

“We lost [our opener] by nine goals against Shoreham, so it was more about us, even though there were some things I would’ve liked to prepare them for from the scouting report, but it was more about where Harborfields needs to be,” Lavey said. “So we didn’t tell them one thing about our opponent. We just showed up and played our style.”

Harborfields senior midfielder Tristan Capes-Davis added one of his own halfway through the third to surge ahead 7-3, and by that time, there was no stopping the Tornadoes. Senior midfielder Cameron LaPorta found the cage for the next two scores, to jump out to a 9-3 lead with nine minutes left to play, when Kings Park sophomore midfielder Jac Cutillo tacked on his team’s final point, to trail 9-4.

Before it was over, Harborfields tacked on three more goals with Haggerty’s fifth, Bennardo’s third for the hat trick, and junior attack Quintin McKenna added one of his own to put the game away.

“We made them earn everything today and they gave us a couple of opportunities in transition, and that was the difference,” Lavey said. “Our kids did a good job at grinding and controlling the speed and the tempo of the game, which gave our middies a chance to rest.”

Kings Park senior goalkeeper Harrison Bower had a busy day, and when the dust settled, he had notched 15 saves.

“Harrison Bower’s a senior and a first-year starter who’s been waiting in the wings for a couple of years now,” Simpson said. “He’s been tremendous in our first three games this season, so I give a lot of credit to him.”

With the win, Harborfields improves to 1-1 in League III, after suffering an 18-9 loss to Shoreham-Warding River, while Kings Park dropped to 1-2 in League III, after an 8-6 loss to Elwood-John Glenn and a 10-9 win over Westhampton.

Kings Park will look to bounce back on Tuesday, April 7, when the Kingsmen host Islip. The game is currently slated with an 11 a.m. start time.

Jessica Lee Goldyn in a scene from ‘A Chorus Line’ at the Engeman. Photo by Michael DeCristofaro

By Charles J. Morgan

“A Chorus Line” opened at the John W. Engeman Theater in Northport last weekend and was a top-notch terpsichorean treat! If your scribe could marshal more alliterative allusions evoking the theatrical theophany that burst forth last Saturday, he would be demeaning the meaning of accurate critical acumen. But enough of Roccoco doggerel! The show, directed by Drew Humphrey was, well, a smash hit.

Since it was all about dance and nothing but dance, a word about the choreography is in order. Dena DiGiacinto was in charge, and her fully charged crew put out a potpourri of evolutions and contortions in every genre including tango, tap, ballet and culminating in an all-hands-on-stage finale entitled “One,” which brought out a standing ovation rife with shouts of “Bravo!” DiGiacinto is immensely talented, having played a role in it on Broadway. However, she is the one who managed the unbelievable precision, coordination and aesthetic unitive finality that was a tribute to the totality of the show.

Since dance requires music, there was James Olmstead leading his magnificent crew with associate Bob Kelly and featuring Joe Boardman on trumpet, Brent Chiarello on trombone, Russ Brown on bass, Mark Gatz on reeds and Josh Enflich on percussion. In your scribe’s opinion previously expressed about this band, they could easily supplant a Broadway pit outfit including its string section.

The main lead is Zach, the choreographer charged with getting a chorus line in shape for a forthcoming performance. He is played by James Ludwig who reveals not only talent in dancing but a genuine stage presence as an actor. He even appears as a dancer in that knockout finale.

Then we have Jessica Lee Goldyn as Cassie who gives an empty-stage dance  solo in “The Music and the Mirror” as well as an emotional dialog with Zach that can only be described as riveting.

Stephanie Israelson is Valerie. She has two breakaway numbers. In Act I with Andrew Matzger and Sissy Bell called “And…” in which her dancing skills are obvious and in Act II a solo on “”Dance: 10; Looks: 3” in which those skills are more ubiquitous. DJ Petrosino as Al and Rachel Marie Bell as Kristine are hilarious in a number called “Sing.”

In another number entitled “At the Ballet” Kelly Sheehan, Abby Church and Courtney Moran manifested evident skill. Patent progress was also evident in Danny Wilfred’s performance as  Richie.

It should be remembered that every single person on the boards is a dancer. There are no walk-ons, no characters who have only dialog — it is dance and music all the way. Lighting was effected by Cory Pattak who handled the fast-paced action with consummate skill.

There was no set. Even the back wall upstage was seen; after all it was rehearsal and audition time. Laura Shubert on sound design made her  ability to balance, increase/decrease, volume shine through. Your scribe even picked up a brief solo by Josh Endlich played on sizzling high-hats. The beats of all the numbers was so complete that your scribe’s slightly arthritic knee grew tired from his left foot tapping. He actually had to switch to his right.

All in all, the entire performance is sharply and professionally performed, something that the Engeman has consistently presented to theater audiences.

The John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St., Northport, will present “A Chorus Line” through May 10. Tickets are $69. For more information, call 261-2900 or visit www.engemean theater.com.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo. File photo by Erika Karp

Just a few hours before the New York State Legislature approved the state’s 2015-16 budget, which includes a number of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s education reform initiatives, school districts across the North Shore finally got to know how much aid they’ll receive next year.

The state aid runs showed districts getting more than they expected, since many budgeted around a 1.7 percent increase. Earlier this year, Cuomo (D) announced state aid would only increase by $377 million — a 1.7 percent increase from this year — if his state education reforms didn’t pass the Legislature.

And while not all of the initiatives passed, a few did, so the aid increased by about $1.4 billion statewide.

“This is a plan that keeps spending under 2 percent, reforms New York’s education bureaucracy, implements the nation’s strongest and most comprehensive disclosure laws for public officials and makes the largest investment in the upstate economy in a generation,” Cuomo said in a statement.

But not all were convinced the education initiatives would reform public schools.

The Education Transformation Act of 2015 amends the teacher evaluation system, changes the time to gain tenure from three to four years and creates two designations for failing schools. The hot-button item, though, was the teacher evaluation system.

Under the act, the State Education Department will develop a new teacher evaluation system by June 30, which school districts will then have to locally negotiate and enact by Nov. 15 in order to receive their allotted aid. The system also includes a component based on students’ performance on the state’s common core-aligned tests. The evaluation system was last changed in 2013.

In a phone interview on Wednesday morning, Middle Country Central School District Superintendent Roberta Gerold, who is also president of the Suffolk County School Superintendents Association, said she believed the change to the system was misguided, and wished elected officials would have learned that “rushing into a system that doesn’t have details attached” — as was the case in 2013 — doesn’t work.

Some Assembly members said they shared Gerold’s concerns.

Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) voted against the Education, Labor and Family Assistance State budget bill, which Cuomo issued on Tuesday with a message of necessity. When asked about the reforms, Englebright immediately interjected, “they are not reforms,” he said.

He said he voted against the measure because it was unclear as to how it would impact students.

“[It] doesn’t mean we can’t make improvements, but those improvements need to make sense,” he said.

Englebright strayed from his fellow party members by voting against the bill, which he said was a difficult decision.

“The people who sent me [to Albany] are the ones who I finally had to vote in accordance with,” he said.

Assemblyman Andy Raia (R-East Northport) said in a press release the education measure “takes away local control and is downright insulting to principals, administrators and teachers.”

While most North Shore Assembly officials voted down the education component, Mike Fitzpatrick (R- St. James) voted yes. In a phone interview Wednesday, Fitzpatrick said he stood by his decision.

He said he believed the reforms would bring more accountability to the system, which needed to be reformed. Fitzpatrick also said the amendments take away some of the New York State United Teachers union’s power. The union referred to the changes as a disgrace and the evaluation system as a sham.

“Good teachers, and they know who they are, they don’t have anything to worry about,” Fitzpatrick said.

Rohma Abbas contributed reporting.

File photo

Police say two people charged with a hate crime on Monday afternoon targeted elderly people, pretending to collect donations for a church before committing burglary.

According to the Suffolk County Police Department, officers from the 2nd Precinct responded to a 911 call about the suspects posing as church representatives to gain access to an elderly woman’s apartment in Paumanack Village in Greenlawn, then stealing property from her.

Police officers Frank Muoio and Todd Regan found suspects Heather Marchese, 23, and Sean DiStefano, a 24-year-old Shoreham resident, within the apartment complex and arrested them. Both were charged with second-degree burglary as a hate crime. Marchese, who is homeless, was also charged with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and possession of a hypodermic instrument.

Marchese and DiStefano, who both had other unrelated charges already pending against them, including criminal possession and traffic law violations, were listed on the New York State court system’s online database as representing themselves and could not be reached for comment.

Police said an investigation — by 2nd Squad detectives and the Hate Crimes Unit — has indicated that there may be other victims, and that the suspects targeted the elderly.

Anyone who may have been a target in the scheme is asked to call the Hate Crimes Unit at 631-852-6323.

The smokestacks of the Port Jefferson power plant loom over the village and the local harbor. File photo by Erika Karp

The Long Island Power Authority must study the area’s aging power plants with an eye toward upgrading the facilities, according to a provision of the next New York State budget.

Language that Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and state legislators have agreed upon requires the utility to “perform an engineering, environmental … and cost feasibility analysis and study” of upgrading — also known as repowering — the plants in Port Jefferson, Northport and Island Park. The focus will be on using more efficient and environmentally friendly technology at the plants.

Those three sites have been on shaky ground because they are old and using outdated technology. The Port Jefferson and Northport host communities have feared losing essential property taxes from the plants, which would happen if the plants were to reach the ends of their useful lives without being repowered.

“We are extremely proud that our representatives and our lobbying efforts are working toward a repowered plant in [Port Jefferson],” village Mayor Margot Garant said in an email. “We always believed this was the best repurposing of our site, and in the best interest of the ratepayers of [Long Island].”

The utility must begin studying Port Jefferson and Island Park no later than Oct. 1, and must start working on the second study in Northport by October 2018, according to the budget language. The studies must be completed and presented to the LIPA board of trustees and the department of public service no longer than 18 months after they begin.

LIPA will repower the plants if it determines, based on the studies, “that repowering any such generating facility is in the best interests of its ratepayers and will enhance the authority’s ability to provide a more efficient, reliable and economical supply of electric energy in its service territory, consistent with the goal of improving environmental quality.”

Assemblyman Andy Raia (R-East Northport) said the studies “could change the whole tax certiorari issue.”

Huntington Town and the Northport-East Northport school district have been battling LIPA over the value of that property, with the utility arguing the plant is grossly overassessed and filing to be reimbursed for taxes overpaid as a result. Town Supervisor Frank Petrone has extended an offer to LIPA to freeze its tax assessment if it repowers Northport.

“Northport and East Northport are looking down the barrel of a gun,” Raia said Tuesday, “and if they repowered Northport that whole case would go away.”

Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) said in a statement that the study requirement will be included in the state budget “since LIPA did not follow through on their [previous] promises” to complete economic feasibility studies on the aging plants.

PSEG Long Island, the private utility that has taken over management of LIPA, was on board with the repowering studies this week.

“After careful study last year, we determined that there was no need for additional generation on Long Island until, at least, 2024,” PSEG Long Island spokesman Jeff Weir said in an email. “We wholeheartedly embrace this process because all we want is to implement the lowest cost and most reliable solutions for our customers on Long Island and in the Rockaways.”

Rohma Abbas contributed reporting.

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