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Kings Park School District

Michael McDermott

A popular Kings Park middle school gym teacher Michael McDermott died tragically on Sunday, July 14, at age 37. He was jogging on the shoulder of the southbound lane of Lake Avenue in St. James, north of Oak Street, when he was struck and killed by a southbound car at 12:21 p.m. 

The driver, Keith Clancy, age 32 of Mattituck, fled the scene in a Nissan sedan and was located and arrested about 30 minutes later, according to police reports, near exit 69 on the Long Island Expressway heading east with a smashed windshield. He was charge with leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. 

End of the 2019 season Kings Park JV Baseball game

McDermott served as physical education teacher and coach for 14 years at the William T. Rogers Middle School, where he touched many lives with his enthusiasm, kindness and wonderful sense of humor.

“He was a dedicated JV baseball and middle school boys soccer coach, who inspired those around him,” said Superintendent Timothy Eagen in a prepared statement on behalf of the Kings Park school district. “Our hearts are broken after the tremendous loss of this truly dedicated educator, professional, husband and father. Our thoughts are with the McDermott family at this time.”

Students gathered in the dugout at the school’s baseball field on Monday afternoon for an impromptu tribute that grew that evening into a candlelight vigil, where students, teachers, counselors and the community joined in to mourn the loss. 

John Mueller, age 15, a ninth-grade pitcher for 2019 Kings Park JV baseball team said he will always remember Coach McDermott and wants to be like him.

“Coach made me the person I am today,” John said. “He knows right from wrong, and what is good. He was a great coach, gym teacher and person.”

Community members Camille Cardoza and Barbara Mueller, mother of John admired the coach’s positive attitude and the values he instilled such as family first, school second, then baseball. 

Students inscribe tribute to Coach McDermott in dugout.

Memorial services were held Wednesday July 17 at the Branch Funeral Home. A funeral Mass was due to be held Thursday, July 18, at 10 a.m. at Sts. Philip & James R.C. in St. James. 

McDermott is survived by wife Lorraine, and three children Leila, Ryan and Sienna.

 

Photos from Branch Funeral Home, Barbara Mueller, Camille Cardoza and Patrick Moser

Smithtown school district's administrative Joseph M. Barton building on New York Avenue. Photo by Kyle Barr

By Leah Chiappino and Rita Egan

Smithtown residents voted on school budgets and board of education candidates May 21.

Smithtown Central School District

The Smithtown school district community passed the 2019-20 budget, 1,995 to 781.

Superintendent James Grossane applauded the passage of the budget.

“We worked very hard with the board of education to create a budget that supports programming for our students and makes sure we can give them the best education possible,” he said. “To have the community support for that is just a wonderful thing.”

Regarding voter turnout, Grossane stated that while he was pleased with the margin of victory, “we always hope that more and more folks come out.” He also said that the district is looking toward better supporting students emotionally by hiring support staff such as full-time social workers in elementary schools, continuing to add guidance counselors to the middle school and expanding psychological services.

In the election for BOE trustees, Michael Catalanotto defeated Peter Tufo in the race for resigning member Daniel Lynch’s seat, 1,853 to 836. Catalanotto said his three children and the his wife being a teacher inspired him to run. His central initiative is mental health and social media. He sees increasing parental involvement as a way to combat issues concerning social media usage among students, particularly middle-schoolers. He said that this along with looking at the statistics concerning mental health and social media and ways to limit access to it could be keys to solving its problems, and he looks forward to working on it. His three-year-term begins July 1. For a one-year term effective immediately, Jerry Martusciello defeated Ralph Michele 1,511 to 891 after the resignation of Joanne McElroy.

Kings Park School District

Kings Park residents passed the $93,880,803 budget, Proposition 1, on the ballot, 985 to 376. They also had the opportunity to vote on the creation of a new capital reserve account, Proposition 2, which was approved, 987-363.

Incumbents Pam DeFord and Dan Tew regained their seats on the board, 1,106 and 1,046, respectively. Challenger JP Andrade received 264 votes.

Tew said he looks forward to working with the board as far as bond work and moving the district forward technology-wise, including making Chromebooks accessible to students to go paperless.

Pam DeFord thanked the community for their support and passing the budget.

“Looking at the numbers, they speak for themselves, they show that the community is happy with what we’re doing so we’ll continue doing what we’re doing, and I look forward to serving the community for the next three years,” DeFord said.

Hauppauge School District

Hauppauge residents passed the $116,054,674 budget, 754-340. Proposition 2 also passed, 833-258, to allow spending from capital reserves for roof replacement at Pines Elementary School and districtwide bathroom reconstruction. BOE incumbents David Barshay, 735 votes, Gary Fortmeyer, 771, and Rob Scarito, 757, retained their seats.

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Kings Park varsity girls volleyball showed its dominance on the court defeating No. 2-ranked Westhampton, 3-1, Nov. 8 to bring home the Suffolk County Class A championship title.

The Lady Kingsmen finished their regular 2018 season with a 10-2 record, earning them the No. 5 seed as they entered the season playoff.  Kings Park came in the underdog taking down Islip, before claiming victory over No.1-ranked East Hampton in the semi-finals Nov. 5 in order to advance to the county finals.

Kings Park came up short against Wantagh, 3-2, in the Long Island Championship match held Nov. 11 at Farmingdale State College.

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Kings Park Kingsmen varsity football dominated the field against West Babylon Eagles in a 30-0 shutout homecoming victory Oct. 6.

Quarterback Kevin Decker led his team to victory by throwing for 125 yards and one touchdown.  Senior tailback Vince D’Alto also played well with 12 carries for a total of 101 yards in the shutout.

The win brings the Kingsmen up in the Division III rankings to 3-1 for the 2018 season. Kings Park  will travel to take on Hauppauge Oct. 13 at 6 p.m.

Click through the gallery above to see photos of the shutout homecoming victory. 

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Summer construction at Kings Park High School. Photo by Amanda Perelli

As Kings Park students return to school next week, the children and their parents may notice buildings across the district have gotten a face-lift.

Kings Park school district has utilized the summer to make progress on some of the more than $41 million in capital improvements approved under the December 2015 bond. 

At Kings Park High School, community members will find a newly resurfaced parking lot in the back of the building. New LED lighting and several dry wells have been installed to alleviate drainage issues to better accommodate students and staff, according to Superintendent Timothy Eagen.

The Kingsmen Kafe. Photo by Amanda Perelli

“The actual parking footprint or square footage will be about the same,” Eagen said. “We anticipate either about the same or a few additional spots, but not a substantial change.”                

On the athletic fields, the former Kingsmen Kafe has been demolished to make way for a modernized concession stand with bathrooms.

Over at William T. Rogers Middle School, both the boys and girls locker rooms have been fully renovated with clean and functional lockers. The district’s staff has also undertaken installation of a new irrigation system, that covers the football, lacrosse, soccer and ball fields to encourage softer, greener and more consistent grass coverage in the future, Eagen wrote in a community update letter.

The district was hoping to replace the entire roof of the middle school this summer, according to the superintendent, but construction was halted when asbestos tar was found under the upper portion of the building. Eagen said this caused the roof replacement to be pushed to next summer to allow for further planning and construction at a time without any students in the building. The roof of the lower portion of the building has been completed for the 2018-19 school year.

R.J.O. Intermediate School has had new fencing installed along the track and field area, in addition to the parking lot.

The R.J.O. track has been an issue for several years, and this grant will allow us to finally make
this area usable and safer for students and the community.”

— Timothy Eagen

The district has been awarded a $100,000 grant through the New York State Municipal Facilities Program, which they applied for last summer after learning about it from state Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick (R-St. James), according to Eagen. This money will help fund plans to resurface the intermediate school’s track next summer.

“The R.J.O. track has been an issue for several years, and this grant will allow us to finally make
this area usable and safer for students and the community,” Eagen said.

The building’s current cinder track will be replaced with an asphalt surface with lane lines The district anticipates that walkers will use this area more after it’s renovated.   

School officials are pressing forward with improvements to the district’s security including plans for security vestibules at each building. In order to bypass a lengthy six to 12 month review process, Eagen said the district will classify the vestibules as maintenance work or repairs, and construct them inside the existing buildings rather than as an exterior add-on feature. The district has set aside $100,000 for this work,
according to the superintendent, and the vestibules are expected to be completed this fall at both the high school and middle school.

Kings Park Principal Lino Bracco gasps as he's given a standing ovation at the June 21 graduation ceremony. Photo by Rita J. Egan

Lino Bracco has become a member of the Class of 2018 by announcing his retirement as principal at Kings Park High School. Bracco has served the school district in this position for the last eight years.

“Mr. Bracco has done an amazing job moving the high school forward academically during his tenure as high school principal,” Kings Park Superintendent Timothy Eagen said. “He will be sorely missed.”

Bracco has had a nearly 40-year career in education, out of which he has spent 20 years as a high school building principal. He was given a standing ovation by the students, their parents, teachers and faculty attending the district’s graduation ceremony June 21.

“I am immensely grateful and humbled to know that my life’s work has bettered the lives of others in some small way,” Bracco said in his retirement letter to the members of the Kings Park board of education. “By continuing this mission of challenging our students’ minds with rich academia embedding choice and challenge, they will continue to find success.”

The Kings Park board of education members, students and staff of Kings Park High School are what he will miss the most, Bracco said in an email. But he is looking forward to spending more time with his wife Sandy and their three grandchildren.

His retirement will take effect Aug. 31. Jason Huntsman, assistant principal of Smithtown High School West, will be filling Bracco’s position. Huntsman has served as an assistant principal for four years, according to Eagen.

 

Hundreds of Kings Park graduates are confidentially marching off to college and their future.

The Kings Park school district held its annual commencement ceremony June 21 for the Class of 2018 at 6:30 p.m.  Joining the more than 300 graduates was Kings Park High School Principal Lino Bracco, who is retiring from the district this year. He was given a standing ovation for his service and dedication to the students.

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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.”

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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.