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Kings Park School District

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Superintendent's Council creates 31-minute video to share with their peers

Kings Park student members of the Superintendent's Council stand with school staff and elected officials. Photo from Kings Park school district

By Amanda Perelli

Kings Park students are going digital in the national debate of mental health awareness to raise awareness among their peers and inform community leaders.

Students in Kings Park school district worked to create a nearly 31-minute video to spread mental health awareness in the community and with elected officials.

The Superintendent’s Council, a group of more than 30 Kings Park students from grades four through 12. The council is made up of approximately four students per grade, who are elected by their peers in fourth grade and remain a part of the council through graduation.

“We got to talk about mental health, a big conversation not only in Kings Park, but all around the country.”
– Timothy Eagen

Timothy Eagen, superintendent of Kings Park school district, said that this year’s council was focused on mental health. The students invited Suffolk County Legislator Rob Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) to a council meeting in March, where he spoke about his role in local government. As a result of that meeting, council members decided to create a video covering stress and anxiety; vaping, smoking, and substance use/abuse; and online safety to raise awareness of mental health in the community.

“They are just a great group of student leaders that I use to bounce ideas off of and pick their brain and insight on a student perspective,” Eagen said. “We got to talk about mental health, a big conversation not only in Kings Park, but all around the country.”

The students filmed themselves, teachers and their classmates in the district for the video. Several Kings Park staff members who assisted include district Assistant Superintendent Ralph Cartisano; Rudy Massimo, principal of R.J.O. Intermediate School; Ken Ferrazzi, assistant principal at William T. Rogers Middle School; and Danielle Thompson, technology integration specialist, helped the students create the video which was filmed on iPhones and iPads. Thompson then edited and pieced together the footage using iMovie.

“If we can get the students to share what they are experiencing, just encourage them to speak about it… maybe we can save a life or two.”
– Rudy Massimo

“We broke it into different groups and being that I am one of the participants of the Superintendents Council, I worked with middle school students on drug and alcohol abuse, including vaping,” Massimo said.

The entire video, from the script to where they filmed, was driven by the students. They filmed parts in areas of the building where students might go to do things against school policy, including the stairwells, bathrooms and basement. They used their smartphones to gather information and read off of them like a script. Throughout filming, the students had one goal to get their peers to listen, according to Massimo.

“Mr. Trotta was the first audience that the kids had to show off their video, Eagen said. “We have it posted to our website and we’ve also shared it with our elected officials, so they can best understand how our students are feeling.”

The principal of R.J. O Intermediate said he has plans to show pieces of the video in the fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms next year.

“What the kids say is that they are tired of the same kind of information coming to them,” said Massimo. “If they hear it from their peers, it means more.

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Kings Park Superintendent Timothy Eagen. File Photo.

The Kings Park Central School district $92 million budget for the 2018-19 school year got the stamp of approval from voters, 1,189 votes to 550 votes. The budget contains a 4.09 percent increase, or approximately $3.6 million more than the current year. It willincrease the tax levy on district homeowners by 2.73 percent.

“This community is very supportive of education and the job that we’ve done here in Kings Park,” Superintendent Timothy Eagen said. “It’s a very supportive budget, and we have some strategic adds and supports in the budget,” “I’m just really happy that we can go forward with the spending plan that the board of education and I have carefully developed over the last couple of months.”

Kings Park budget by the numbers

$92M budget:  1,189 Yes votes to 550 No votes

Board of Education
Kevin Johnston: 1,383 votes
Diane Nally: 1,281 votes
Darryl Valinchus: 530 votes

The adopted budget features plans to increase security measures. These include $100,000 dedicated to the creation of security vestibules in the main entryways of all Kings Park school buildings. It provides funding for additional security cameras and the school administrators plan on having the teachers download an app to their phones called Rave Panic Button, which will enable them to have a direct line to police, fire and emergency medical service at the push of a button.

Eagen said that the new budget maintains all current curriculum, classes, clubs and activities while adding new courses. There will be funding for a new AP Capstone Research program, an exploratory course where students learn to do research in any number of fields and synthesize that research into research papers. Other new courses include an American Sign Language elective for eighth-graders, new math programs, robotics, computer programming and coding.

Kings Park board of education

Kings Park board of education incumbents Kevin Johnston, receiving 1,383 votes, and current Vice President Diane Nally, receiving 1,281 votes, were re-elected to their seats. Challenger Darryl Valinchus fell short with 530 votes in Tuesday’s election.

“This is a $92 million budget we’re talking about and very few people show up for the school board meetings.”

Kevin Johnston

Johnston said the board of education race remained civil throughout the process and hoped he would be able to reach out to Valinchus to tap into his knowledge of security procedures to aid the district.

Valinchus is a 15-year Kings Park resident and is a retired sergeant of the New York Police Department’s intelligence bureau. He currently owns a business as an expert witness providing services to law enforcement agencies and prosecutors’ offices.

Johnston also expressed some disappointment regarding the lack of turnout at the board of education meetings.

“We would like to have more input from people in the community,” he said Tuesday night as polls closed. “This is a $92 million budget we’re talking about and very few people show up for the school board meetings. I think over the last few years with Diane [Nally], we’ve accomplished a great deal providing for the students in Kings Park but we still have a ways to go.”

Pam DeFord, Kings Park’s board of education president wanted to express her gratitude.

“I look forward to the continued work that the board has started and to continue to do [what’s] in the best interest of our students and community,” DeFord said. “Kings Park is in a great place, and we’ll continue to show our Kings Park pride.”

Three candidates vie for two open trustee seats on board of education May 15

Kings Park Superintendent Timothy Eagen. File Photo.

The Kings Park Central School district is asking residents to vote on a proposed $92 million budget that looks to include new course offerings and security projects.

The Kings Park school board of education has put forth a proposed budget to the tune of $92,168,700, which represents a 4.09 percent increase, or approximately $3.6 million more than the current year.

The tax levy, which is the amount of money a district needs to raise through property taxes to balance its budget, shows an increase of 2.73 percent from last year, which is below the New York State mandated tax levy cap.

“We were pretty strategic in the adds for next year’s budget,” Superintendent Timothy Eagen said. “I think this year’s budget has some real positive inclusions in it.”

The proposed budget features plans for increased security measures. These include $100,000 dedicated to the creation of security vestibules in the main entryways of all Kings Park school buildings.

I think this year’s budget has some real positive inclusions in it.”
– Timothy Eagan

“What a security vestibule would do is you would come in the first door, and you’d be in a vestibule, but you wouldn’t get clearance or get buzzed into the building until security scanned your license and confirmed your identity,” Eagen said. “Then you are buzzed through the second door.”

Along with additional security cameras, the school plans on having the teachers download an app to their phones called Rave Panic Button, which will enable them to have a direct line to police, fire and emergency medical at the push of a button.

“The whole idea is to shorten the time that emergency services need to get to the school,” the superintendent said.

Eagen said that the new budget maintains all current curriculum, classes, clubs and activities while adding new courses. If approved, the budget will allow funding for a new AP Capstone Research program, an exploratory course where students learn to do research in any number of fields and synthesize that research into research papers.

Other new courses include an American Sign Language elective for eighth-graders, new math programs, robotics, computer programming and coding.

Kings Park board of education

Kevin Johnston. Photo from Kings Park school district

Three people are currently running for two open seats on the Kings Park board of education. Candidates include incumbent trustee Kevin Johnston, incumbent and current board Vice President Diane Nally and newcomer candidate Darryl Valinchus.

Johnston is a 31-year Kings Park resident. He has spent a year on the board and is looking for a second. He said there is still work to do on school renovations, modernization, decreasing class sizes and school security.

“I would like to see the process through,” Johnston said. “I’m a big proponent of education. I would just like to continue in the direction Kings Park is going with education because year by year the number of students going on to secondary education has improved.”

Johnston is a retired educator from the school district where he spent 35 years as an English teacher and coach. His two children are graduates of Kings Park, and he currently works for State University of New York Oneonta as a supervisor of student-teachers. He believes his experience as teacher helps him as trustee, especially when it comes to aiding students and promoting programs for kids with special needs.

“Some of them still feel vulnerable and isolated, and we need to give them the help and attention they need and deserve,” Johnston said. “They need an advocate, and we want to make everyone feel a part of the school.

Nally is a 58-year resident of Kings Park, and she has had three children graduate from the school district. She has been on the school board for the past six years and she is looking to run for another term.

 

Diane Nally. File photo

“My three children are educators, my husband is an educator, so I believe education is really important to me and my family,” she said. “I believe it is a responsibility of all citizens to educate our children. That’s why I feel the job I am doing on the board is really important.”

Nally retired as director of religious education at St. Joseph’s School of Religion program in 2016, and now she spends most of her time baby-sitting her three grandchildren. She said two of the most important things she wants to tackle as member of the board are drug issues and the mental health of students, and that she wants to involve the community in that process.

“There’s been a lot of concern over emotional issues facing some of our children,” she said. “I think that is something that needs to be addressed.”

Valinchus is a 15-year Kings Park resident and is a retired sergeant of the New York Police Department’s intelligence bureau. He currently owns a business as an expert witness providing services to law enforcement agencies and prosecutors’ offices. He has also spent 10 years on the Kings Park Youth Athletic Association’s board. He said he is running to provide his expertise on
security to the district.

Darryl Valinchus. Photo from Kings Park school district

“I think my background in law enforcement will help us with one of the most pressing things right now … securing our students and our schools,” he said. “I feel that diversifying the backgrounds on the school board will help us come [up] with better solutions and better decisions.”

Valinchus said he doesn’t want to wait for the state to give funds before they add extra security to the school.

“There’s things we can do to secure our buildings, without offending people, without making it look like smoke and mirrors, without sending our security too far,” Valinchus said.

Valinchus has had two sons who graduated from the district, one in 2014 and the other in 2017.

Beyond security, Valinchus said he wishes to provide a financially responsible budget that addresses the community’s concerns.

“Education is a priority,” he said. “We need to make sure our students are prepared for college.”

The budget and board of education vote will take place May 15 from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Kings Park High School rear gymnasium.

Kings Park Superintendent Timothy Eagen. File Photo.

Following the Parkland school shooting in Florida Feb. 14, there is no denying there’s been a raging national debate over gun control measures and school safety. As the student survivors of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have spoken up, their actions have rippled outward creating a call for activism by students nationwide to have their voices and opinions on gun control heard. It has reached Long Island.

On March 14, the group Women’s March Youth EMPOWER is calling for students, teachers, school administrators and parents to walk out of schools for 17 minutes, in honor of the 17 Parkland victims, beginning at 10 a.m. The purpose of the protest, according to a website promoting it, is to shine a light on Congress’ “inaction to do more than tweet thoughts and prayers in response to the gun violence plaguing our schools and neighborhoods.” The walkout is being promoted on social media using the hashtag #ENOUGH.

Town of Smithtown school districts and officials are weighing how the marches might play out here, with logistics and safety being of the utmost concern for administrators.

I firmly believe that giving students a voice in the running of their school and community is paramount to the education process”
— Timothy Eagen

“I firmly believe that giving students a voice in the running of their school and community is paramount to the education process,” said Kings Park Superintendent Timothy Eagen.

Eagen said he had Lino Bracco, principal of Kings Park High School, meet with the student council last week to gauge what they were thinking of and planning for March 14.

“Our goal is to understand what our students are thinking and feeling, and best support their voice,” Eagen said.

Kings Park’s student council was instructed on what boundaries they must operate within March 14, according to Eagen, and the plans will incorporate aspects of remembrance, unity and an education activities aimed at
remembering the 17 lives lost in Parkland. Specific details were not made available in time for publication.

Prior to the Parkland shooting, Kings Park held a “leadership summit” consisting of 32 adults and students in which it was felt that the district needs to work together with the community to better address “the increasingly complex issues that are impacting our students and their families.” A forum is set for March 13, 7 p.m. at Kings Park High School cafeteria to address topics including cyberbullying, social isolation, the effects of social media addiction, and the need for volunteers to serve as positive role models. A recreational night will be run in the gymnasium by National Honor Society students for students and children while the forum is underway.

Commack school officials said they are still discussing the walkout with their students, and what if any events will occur, according to spokeswoman Brenda Lentsch. No solid information regarding the event or district’s stance was available as of press time.

We’re protesting the violence in schools and the lack of change that has occurred to stop that.”
— National School Walkout Website

Neighboring school administrators in Smithtown Central School District declined to comment on their plans for March 14.

A second unconnected protest is being planned for April 20 to coincide with the anniversary of the mass shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999. The organizers of this event, simply called National School Walkout, are also calling for those in school buildings to stand up and exit at 10 a.m. for 17 minutes of silence, followed by an “open mic” session in which students will be encouraged to voice their opinions. The organizers of the walkout envision a day-long event.

“We’re protesting the violence in schools and the lack of change that has occurred to stop that,” the website for the event reads. “The issue needs constant attention if we hope to change anything, so multiple events on multiple days is a productive way to help fight for our cause, a safer country.”

While the federal government deals with the political gridlock long associated with gun control, New York State is working on action to at least improve safety in the short term, though not to address gun laws.

“Every New Yorker and every American is outraged by the senseless violence that is occurring in schools throughout the country,” state Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport) said in a Feb. 28 statement.

The state Senate approved a series of bills March 5 that include more funding for security cameras, armed police officers or security personnel for districts that want it, panic buttons, active shooter drills, better emergency response plans, hardening of school doors and more. A package of gun control measures proposed by Senate Democrats was rejected.

File photo by Elana Glowatz

By Sara-Megan Walsh

Two parents are suing the Kings Park Central School District over a 2015 sexting incident, claiming handling of the matter humiliated their sons and violated their freedom of speech.

Andrew J. Fenton, of Fort Salonga, and Thomas Phelan, of Kings Park, filed a lawsuit after their sons were among more than 25 students suspended for having received a sexual video via text message.

The lawsuit, filed Sept. 19, 2017, in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, alleges the “suspension of [the students] for receiving a video, unsolicited, which they did not show or send to anyone else, and which bore no nexus to an ensuing school disruption was arbitrary and capricious.” Both Fenton and Phelan seek damages for “humiliation and anguish” of their sons and their records expunged of the suspension.

On Nov. 4, 2015, dozens of Kings Park High School students received a video on their cellphones of two 14-year-olds having sex while at home, according to court documents.

When an assistant principal saw a ninth-grader playing the video in the high school’s cafeteria Nov. 6, school officials began an extensive investigation. The phones of all students who still had the video were temporarily confiscated, according to court documents. School district officials allege both Fenton’s and Phelon’s sons still had the video.

Under Kings Park’s Guidelines for Implementation of School Discipline Policy, “inappropriate texting and use of social media” and “selling, using, transmitting or possessing obscene material” are considered Level IV infractions punishable by up to five days suspension and parental contact.

On Nov. 9 and 10, Kings Park High School Principal Lino Bracco sent certified mail to Fenton and Phelan notifying them that their sons, sophomores at the time, would be suspended for one day for “inappropriate use of an electronic device.” The letter warned that the students were “prohibited from entering upon school grounds for any reason and should remain home under supervision.”

Fenton said he did not receive the Nov. 9 letter in time, and his son was escorted out of the high school on Nov. 10 by two uniformed police officers, according to court documents.

By letter dated Nov. 18, Superintendent Timothy Eagen made an offer to parents that they could submit a request for their child’s disciplinary record to be reviewed, and barring any similar incidents, the suspension would be expunged.

Both parents retained Middletown-based attorneys, partners Robert Isseks and Andrew Smith, who sent letters dated Dec. 9, 2015, requesting the suspensions be immediately removed from the students’ records alleging “they never possessed the message in school or on school property.”

Both parents said Kings Park school district’s cellphone policy also infringed on their sons’ right to free speech. “The only way that [he] or any other student could possibly make sure that he did not find himself in an ‘incident similar in nature’ during the coming year is if he stopped receiving text messages all together,” reads the Dec. 9 letter.

An appeal was made to New York State Department of Education, whose Commissioner Mary Ellen Elia ruled Nov. 10, 2016, that the district’s “suspension of [the students] for receiving a video, unsolicited, which they did not show or send to anyone else, and which bore no nexus to an ensuring school disruption, was arbitrary and capricious.” Elia ordered Kings Park school district to annul and expunge the suspension.

Eagen said that as at press time, Kings Park school district had yet to be served with the lawsuit.

“Parents will sometimes address a particular issue through a media solution rather than an administrative or due process solution,” Eagen said. “However, in choosing this path, sometimes parents will share certain personal and/or confidential information that then becomes a part of public record.”

The superintendent said the district’s policy and practice is to not comment on specific student disciplinary matters and/or pending lawsuits.

Attorney Smith could not be reached for comment by press time. Principal Bracco did not return phone calls requesting an interview or comment.

File photo

A 10-year-old Kings Park boy struck by an SUV on his way to the school bus was airlifted to Stony Brook Hospital with serious injuries, according to Suffolk County Police.

Police said a William T. Rogers Middle School student was walking across First Avenue, near Carlson Avenue, at about 7:54 a.m. Sept. 15 to board his school bus, police said. The bus had its flashing red lights on and stop sign activated to warn approaching motorists.

Pasquale Izzo, 81, of Kings Park, was driving a 1998 Dodge Durango northbound on First Avenue when he allegedly attempted to pass the school bus, and ignored its flashing lights. Izzo failed to stop his vehicle and struck the student, according to police.

NYSDMV on sharing the road with buses

  • When a stopped school bus flashes its red light(s), traffic that approaches from either direction, even in front of the school and in school parking lots, vehicles must stop before it reaching the bus. Drivers should stop at least 20 feet away from the bus.
  • Before a school bus stops to load or discharge passengers, the driver will usually flash yellow warning lights. Then, decrease speed and be prepared to stop.
  • When you stop for a school bus, do not drive again until the red lights stop flashing or when the bus driver or a traffic officer signals the you can proceed.. You must stop for a school bus even if it is on the opposite side of a divided highway.
  • After stopping for a school bus, look for children along the side of the road. Drive slowly until have passed them.

The 10-year-old boy was airlifted to Stony Brook University Hospital with serious, but not life-threatening injuries, according to police. Izzo was not injured.

Kings Park Superintendent Timothy Eagen notified district parents that it has additional mental health staff available at the middle school to provide additional support to those students who witnessed the accident, students who know the injured student and anyone else as needed.

“Unfortunately, this incident is a terrible reminder that we cannot always assume that motorists will follow traffic safety rules at all times,” Eagen said in a message posted on the district’s website.

Under New York State Law, drivers who pass a stopped school bus can be fined $250 for the first violation and face up to a maximum fine of $1,000 for three violations in less than three years. Individuals convicted of three violations in a three-year span may have their driver’s license revoked.

Kings Park School District announced the bus’s route has been changed in effort to avoid any potential future tragic accidents at the intersection, and so the student involved and those who witnessed the accident don’t have to return to the scene of the accident on a daily basis.

The neighboring Commack Union-Free School District sent out an email to parents reminding them to, “Please drive slowly with no distractions, and be especially vigilant of where our precious children are playing, walking, riding or standing.”

Most school bus-related deaths and injuries occur when children are loading or unloading from a bus, according to New York State Department of Motor Vehicle’s website, not in collisions that involve school buses.

The driver’s vehicle has been impounded for safety checks and the incident is under investigation. Suffolk County’s 4th Squad Detectives are asking anyone who witnessed the accident to call 631-854-8452.

A plan for what the new concession stand at Kings Park High School would look like. Images from Kings Park school district.

By Jenna Lennon

Although Kings Park school district is ready to get to work, summer improvements have not yet begun due to delays from the state.

Phase two of the proposed five-year renovation plan for Kings Park is still waiting for approval from the State Education Department. The construction originally scheduled to begin in the summer months will now have to be extended into the fall and spring semesters even though plans were originally submitted back in October, 2016.

Tim Eagen, superintendent of the Kings Park Central School District, said the school will try to minimize possible inconveniences due to the construction as best as it can.

“We anticipate getting all the work done; probably not all of it done during the summer,” he said in an interview. “Some of it is going to extend out into the fall. Some of it we’ll do during shut downs during the course of the school year.”

Eagen said some projects will not be too difficult to complete during the year, but that’s not true for all.

“One of the pieces, for example, is a door replacement project that can just happen nights and evenings and weekends during the school,” he said. “Probably the biggest visual piece that’s going to be delayed is for the track and the field. We have a concession stand with bathrooms that’s planned. It’s looking like that’s going to flip to the spring.”

Like last summer, improvements have been planned for every school in the district. Here is a breakdown of the specific projects happening at every school.

Kings Park High School:

Track/field lighting

Concession stand with bathroom

Library media center renovations

Auditorium seating/flooring upgrades

Electrical distribution and switchgear

Emergency power supply

Parking lot pavement upgrades

Air conditioning for auditorium and main gymnasium

William T. Rogers Middle School:

Field irrigation

Locker room renovations: new lockers

Gymnasium renovations: bleachers and electric for blackboards

R.J.O. Intermediate School:

Asphalt and pavement upgrades

Interior renovations: flooring (including asbestos removal)

Auditorium upgrades: seating and flooring

Interior renovations: ceilings

Electrical distribution and switchgear

Park View Elementary School:

Asphalt and pavement upgrades

Masonry restoration

Interior renovations: flooring (including asbestos removal)

Door and hardware replacement

Electrical distribution and switchgear

Plumbing upgrades

Toilet renovations

Boiler upgrades

HVAC and controls

 

Updated July 18: 

Egan said he received approval for RJO Intermediate School late last week, and Park View Elementary Monday, July 17.

“We are still waiting for final approval for the high school and middle school projects,” he said in a email. “They have passed the architectural review but still in the engineering review phase.”

The administrative building on New York Avenue may soon be the site of a new apartment building. File photo by Rachel Shapiro

Kings Park

The Kings Park school district has only one seat available this year for a board of education candidate, and three residents vying for the opportunity.

Trustee Joe Bianco is looking to continue his work with a second term.

“I believe my experience on the board over the last three years has affirmed that given my background in accounting and law … I have the technical skills and experience to help the [board] address many of the issues it faces today,” he said in his candidate statement.

Bianco has worked as a lawyer since 1995 and has volunteered for different athletic activities  in Kings Park including the Kings Park Youth Athletic Association.

“If re-elected, the board’s first priority is to finalize a new contract with our teachers,” he said in an email. “Sustainable, predictable and equitable revenue streams and contracts are critical to our long-term success as a district and to the long-term security and empowerment of our staff.” He also talked about the importance of continuing the bond project and facility upgrades.

“We must continue to challenge ourselves, our administration leadership, our staff and our students to embrace new ideas and developments in a manner that stays true to the goals and values that are important to our community,” Bianco said.

Katy Cardinale is looking to unseat Bianco, a 10-year Kings Park resident herself.

Cardinale has volunteered for several district committees, including the facilities and legislative committees.

“Positive things are happening and the tone is enthusiastic and collaborative [in the district],” Cardinale said in her candidate statement. “I aim to continue the momentum in that direction.”

But Cardinale said she is concerned about state and federal overreach and its effect on the Kings Park district. She said the current board’s decision to not pass a resolution rejecting Secretary of Education Betsy Devos inspired her to run.

The candidate said she also thinks the board needs to protect school funding more vigorously.

“I feel that our school board needs to be very loud when it comes to protecting every last penny,” she said in her candidate statement.

J.P. Andrade is the third candidate looking to represent the Kings Park community.

Andrade is a Kings Park graduate and recently worked as a diversity advisor and surrogate for then candidate Donald Trump. He has been a television contributor for multiple news stations. He said he also volunteers for various Smithtown groups.

Where Kings Park is concerned, Andrade said his diverse background can be an asset to the board.

“My various work in the government, political field, and the community will be beneficial in serving this community,” he said. “I want to be able to bring some youth, diversity and innovation to Kings Park.”

Andrade said he wants to continue to keep a close eye on common core curriculum, calling the implementation a “disaster,” and wants to bridge the gap between the schools and the community.

“[I want to] ensure that the students are equipped with the best possible educational team, and to make sure they get the top-notch education they deserve,” he said.

Smithtown

In Smithtown three seats are up for election this May, with two of the three uncontested.

Long-time incumbent Gladys Waldron is hoping to continue her service, with no challenger looking to unseat her.

“I’d like to continue with the board, providing a financially responsible budget,” Waldron said in a phone interview. She also said she’s in support of many of the programs being expanded at the district now, including AP Capstone seminars and other educational opportunities for students.

“We’ve also replaced study halls with elective programs which has been a great success, and been able to maintain small elementary class sizes, all without piercing the tax levy cap,” she said.

Incumbent Vice President Joanne McEnroy is also looking to move forward with the district.

“Serving on the Smithtown Board of Education gives me a sense of pride,” she said in an email. “I love the place that I have called home for over five decades and in particular, I love our schools.”

McEnroy, who first ran six years ago, said she is proud of what she has accomplished so far.

“I am very proud to have lived up to the campaign promises … which was to balance fiscal responsibility with quality education,” she said. “We have remained within the tax cap while continuing to restore or build on our already outstanding educational program to make it even better.  The expansion this year of our full-time integrated co-teaching program so that it now encompasses kindergarten thru grade 12, is a source of pride and accomplishment for me as it was just one of the many program improvement goals that I hoped to achieve as a board trustee.”

She is also running unopposed.

Incumbent Grace Plourde is the third incumbent running for re-election; however, she does face a challenger. Newcomer Matthew  Gribbin has thrown his hat into the ring.

Plourde said simply why she’s running again.

“The job is not done yet,” she said in a phone interview. “I’ve been on the board six years and we’ve gotten through some tough times.”

Plourde referred to the state-mandated tax levy cap as one of the issues the district has had to work on to create a budget that still benefits the district and the students.

“It’s all about sustainability,” she said. “We have to make sure we go forward and match revenue to expenses to maintain high-quality programs while staying within the cap.”

Gribbin did not return requests for comment.

Kings Park Superintendent Timothy Eagen speaks at a meeting. File photo
Kings Park Superintendent Timothy Eagen. File photo.

In two years, Superintendent Timothy Eagen has become the king of Kings Park’s school district.

Under his leadership, the district has created robotics clubs and educational programs for children from kindergarten up, started work on about $41 million in improvements to the district’s facilities, brought back old clubs and worked tirelessly to make sure the level of education students receive is up to par.

For these reasons, Times Beacon Record News Media has selected Eagen as a Person of the Year for 2016.

A North Shore native, the superintendent grew up in South Huntington and graduated from Walt Whitman High School. His undergraduate degree from Alfred University was in ceramic engineering, a specific education he said still helps him today.

“As an engineer you’re trained to solve problems, and that is essentially what I do for a living,” he said. “It’s not necessarily science problems, but whatever the problem of the day might be.”

He said after college he switched over to the “family business” of education. His mother and father are both retired teachers, and his sister is a high school English teacher.

Eagen worked in the South Huntington school district for 15 years, starting as a substitute teacher and working his way to assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.

In 2014, he arrived at Kings Park — a community he has great respect for.

“One of the things I really like about Kings Park is the things that are important to the community and the school district,” he said. “Over the two years that I’ve been here and in my research when I was applying for the job, there were three things that stood out: Kings Park pride, family and service. Pride you hear about all the time — it’s a very proud community. And then family and service, it’s a very close-knit, family-type community. When somebody has an issue or a problem everybody comes out and helps. They really value service, whether it’s in the armed forces, police, fire, rescue or just typical service to the community. All of those things are part of what I believe in.”

Rudy Massimo, principal at RJO Intermediate School, said Eagen has had a tremendous impact on the morale at Kings Park.

“I’ve never seen teachers more impressed with a superintendent before,” he said. “He really turned around the entire district. To watch it happen is absolutely amazing. He has made [Kings Park] an amazing place to work.”

Kings Park Superintendent Timothy Eagen speaks at a meeting. File photo

When Eagen got to work, one of the first jobs he said he wanted to tackle was facility upgrades throughout the district.

“Every time we turned the corner it was another area that needed attention,” he said. “So the bond was big.” The capital project bond referendum was approved by voters in December 2015, and came in at about $41 million. Improvements like roof replacements, bathroom renovations, hardware replacements and asphalt and pavement upgrades are planned at every school in the district. Kings Park High School has some big-ticket items including auditorium upgrades, gymnasium renovations and the creation of a multipurpose athletic field and accompanying concession stand. The plan was divided into certain projects being carried out each year. This past summer the new track was installed and about $8 million in other improvements were carried out.

Eagen said he is proud of the improvements done thus far, and is eager to continue working to improve student experiences at facilities within the district.

In terms of curriculum, Eagen has assured Kings Park students are getting the most up-to-date education possible.

“Robotics has been pretty big,” Eagen said. “As well as classes focusing on programming, logic, research — things of that nature. We hear a lot about college and career readiness … there’s a lot of truth to that in concern to how competitive it is to get into college right now.”

Eagen said in his first year at Kings Park, students and parents approached him with the desire to create a robotics club, and he hit the ground running.

Through help from local legislators and school staff, the team was formed and was even able to compete at an annual competition hosted at Hofstra University in the spring.

“Under the heading of family, we all came together and made it happen,” Eagen said.

After the club was formed, Eagen began working to create a robotics program for all grades in the district. Students now work with programmable robots, that they can move, and make sing and dance. The district also offers a summer robotics camp.

“It’s just really cool,” Eagen said. “It’s the whole coding logic, it’s 21st century lessons. Really what we are trying to do is ensure every student graduates with a general understanding and some skills of programming, robotics, logic and code. It’s good stuff. Kids pick it up so quickly.”

Massimo said Eagen has created an environment for teachers and students to excel.

“He allows us to really run with our ideas,” he said. “You take pride in what you’re teaching your students. This initiative has encouraged us to return to creative academic freedom — sometimes you get lost in the testing world. He’s inspiring to everyone in the administration.”

The Kings Park school board agreed, Eagen has done wonders for the district.

“The board continues to be impressed with Dr. Eagen’s leadership and vision for the Kings Park Central School District as well as the Kings Park community at large,” members said in a joint email statement. “He is a constant advocate for our children — whether it be striving for advancements in our curriculum, our facilities and our programs or leading advocacy groups at the regional and state level on behalf of public education. Dr. Eagen is also a constant presence at community events — whether it be school concerts, plays and sporting events, or local events like parades or group meetings. We are fortunate to have him leading our school district.”

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Kings Park High School said goodbye to its 2015 graduating class on Thursday night as students flanked the football field in the company of flocks of excited family members.

The men were donned in red caps and gowns while their women counterparts sported white and they sat in alternating order, properly decorating the school field in Kingsmen colors before their final sendoff. Class valedictorian Zachary Marcone and salutatorian Justin Barish were two of several students to step up and deliver encouraging remarks before the students shook hands and grasped their high school diplomas.

“You must strike a balance in life,” said Marcone, who had his speech flown in via air drone to symbolize the possibilities the future holds. “Everything you do in life must be balanced.”

Principal Lino E. Bracco said 91 percent of Kings Park High School grads were off to college next year and wished the graduating class well before the two-hour ceremony concluded.

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