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Northport-East Northport

Northport High School. File photo

Students at Huntington, Northport-East Northport and Harborfields school districts put in strong efforts this year to come out at the top of their classes. The valedictorian and salutatorian of each district answered a few questions to let their community get to know them a little better. The graduates were asked the following: (1) What were you involved with at your high school? (2) What college are you attending and what are you studying? (3) What is your favorite high school memory? (4) What are you most excited for in college?  (5) What will you miss most about your school?

Huntington

Salutatorian: Miranda Nykolyn, 17

1. I was involved with Key Club (secretary), varsity rowing, varsity tennis, Mathletes, and Science National Honor Society (treasurer).  Science research is among my favorite activities.

2. I am attending Stanford University and majoring in mechanical engineering/applied mathematics.

3. My favorite high school memory would have to be winning the New York State Scholastic Rowing Championships in the Women’s Varsity Single.

4. I am most excited to be living on my own, and being responsible for my own actions. College is a great time to grow and find a healthy balance between schoolwork and fun.

5. I will miss most the amazing people in my community and the great programs offered. Huntington High School has many AP classes and a variety of extracurriculars that allow for any interest to be fostered.

Valedictorian: Steve Yeh, 18

1. I was involved with Stocks Analysis Club, Math Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, Social Studies Honor Society, Chinese Foreign Exchange Club, Quiz Bowl and Science Bowl, piano, tutoring at Huntington Station library and Natural Helpers.

2. I am attending Cornell University next year majoring in math and economics and minoring in physics.

3. I don’t necessarily have one favorite high school memory, but as a whole I loved being around my friends, having meaningful discussions and debates in history and government courses and helping out my classmates with academics and regular daily problems and vice versa; this makes it more of a community rather than just a school.

4. I am most excited about meeting new people who come from diverse backgrounds and also being able to study a variety of courses across a breadth of disciplines while also learning more in-depth about respective content material.

5.   I will miss my friends and teachers the most.  I have learned so much about various subjects, but more importantly, I have learned more about myself.

Northport-East Northport

Salutatorian: Sarah Abodalo, 17

1. I was involved with varsity soccer (captain), named All Conference and All County (2015, 2016) and Newsday Top 50 Players (2015, 2016). I also was All County SCMEA (2014, 2015), NYSCAME for Voice (2016), NYSCAME for horn (2015), marching band, symphonic winds, tour choir (officer), pit orchestra, and Tri-M Music Honor Society.

2. I am attending the Honor’s College at Hofstra University, with majors in English and French language and education.

3. My favorite high school memory was when I toured England and Scotland with our tour choir in the summer 2015.  Performing in some of the most historical places in the world was one of the most gratifying experiences I have had the opportunity to partake in.

4. Next year I will be playing on the Hofstra University women’s soccer team. I am beyond ecstatic and honored to be playing at such a high level with such talented individuals.

5. I will greatly miss being a part of the fantastic music program that Northport provides its students. Choir and band have been a major part of my life and I am sad to have to say goodbye to all the wonderful teachers I have had over the years.

Valedictorian: Cybele Laisney, 18

1. I volunteered at the Atria, provided free tutoring for those in need, and at the Huntington YMCA. I was in French Club (president), Grandfriends (vice-president), National Honor Society, World Language Honor Society, and Technology Honor Society. I also played varsity tennis.

2. I am attending Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a major in bio-engineering.

3. I will remember meeting with Martha, a resident at the Atria, to sit down and chat every Tuesday. She offered a lot of wisdom and always encouraged me to pursue my dreams. I’ll miss her a lot next year,

4. I’m most excited to be surrounded by new people in the Cambridge/Boston area. I know the people I will be surrounded by will only inspire me to push myself further.

5. I’ll miss the people I’ve met along the way. I’ve gotten to know some truly wonderful people throughout high school, and although it is heartbreaking to be apart from the people I’m close to, I know they will do bigger and better things in college.

Harborfields

Salutatorian: Ishaan Lohia, 17

1. I was involved in the Harborfields Theatre Company, National Honor Society, science research and Mathletes.

2. I will be studying physics at Northeastern University.

3. My favorite memory is senior playfest.

4. I am most excited to study the things that I love at college.

5. I will miss the friends that I have made at Harborfields.

Valedictorian: Casandra Moisanu, 18

1. I was involved in All-County girls varsity soccer, National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society and Mathletes.

2. I’ll be studying environmental science at Cornell University.

3. I’ll remember being a part of the soccer team here at Harborfields High School.

4. I am most excited to learn new things at a higher level.

5. I’m going to miss the family feel that we have here in Harborfields.

The evening of May 16 was a good one for school boards across New York State, as residents cast their ballots overwhelmingly in favor of district budgets.

According to the New York State School Boards Association, the average proposed school district tax levy increase in 2017-18 will be 1.48 percent, more than half a percentage point below the acclaimed 2 percent property tax cap. It is the fourth consecutive year the tax cap growth factor will be below 2 percent.

Here’s how school districts on the North Shore of Suffolk County fared:

Commack
According to the Commack school district’s website, the district voted 2,019-555 in favor of the $187,532,818 proposed budget. Carpenter edged out Janine DiGirolamo 1,363 votes to 1,059, and Hender narrowly beat April Pancella Haupt 1,240 to 1,148.

Comsewogue
Comsewogue residents voted 789 in favor and 208 not against the $89,796,337 budget. Incumbents Ali Gordon and Jim Sanchez won back their seats in an uncontested race, with 882 and 846 votes, respectively.

Harborfields
Members of the district voted 1,224 to 249 for the $84.4 million budget. In a tightly-contested race, David Steinberg and Christopher Kelly won the two open seats with 800 and 741 votes, respectively. Sternberg won back his seat, while the third time seemed to be a charm for Kelly. Laura Levenberg finished with 623 votes while Anila Nitekman totaled 467.

Hauppauge
The Hauppauge school district passed its $107,965,857 budget 811-308, and its capital reserve fund proposition 869-248, according to the district’s Facebook page. James Kiley and Lawrence Craft were elected to the board of education, with 803 and 797 votes, respectively.

Huntington
Residents passed the $126.2 million budget and capital reserve proposition, according to the district website. Trustees Jennifer Hebert and Xavier Palacios were re-elected to three-year terms.

Kings Park
The Kings Park community passed its $88.5 million proposed budget with 1,360 yes votes to 533 no. Incumbent Joe Bianco won back his seat with 989 votes, while challengers Katy Cardinale and J.P. Andrade finished with 733 and 110.

“I just feel great,” Kings Park Superintendent Tim Eagan said. “The budget passed with 72 percent approval. I’m just happy that the community is very happy with what we have going on here, and it’s just great to have their support. We’ve been fortunate the last couple of years. We’ve been 70 percent passing or higher.”

Middle Country
Residents chose to pass the $243,590,487 proposed budget 1,658-418. Runners Dina Phillips (1,523), Ellie Estevez (1,380) and Doreen Felmann (1,512) won their uncontested board of education seat races, with 17 write-in votes.

Miller Place
Voters passed the $126.2 million budget 763-162. With no challengers, Lisa Reitan and Richard Panico were elected with 726 and 709 votes. Other write-in candidates totaled 23 votes.

Mount Sinai
The $59,272,525 budget was overwhelmingly passed by residents, 1,007 to 251 and the library 1,111 to 144. Incumbents Robert Sweeney (1,013), Edward Law (866) and Peter Van Middelem (860) won back their seats, while Michael McGuire almost doubled his total from last year, finishing with 597.

“I’m very happy that it passed,” Mount Sinai Superintendent Gordon Brosdal said. “We have great programs here. We can maintain those programs. We made the AP Honor Roll two years in a roll. Almost every team right now is in the playoffs, our music program is better than ever, so to keep those programs is great, but we’re not resting on that. Now we can get to work on our elementary reading program, bolstering that, we have a new principal coming in who has high expectations. There are programs we want to put in place that a lot of our kids need in the elementary school.”

He was disappointed with the turnout, though.

“I’m not happy,” he said. “We’re 200 lower than last year. We have 9,000 eligible voters. I’d like to see 500 to another 1,00 approve it so we have everyone together.”

Northport-East Northport
Northport-East Northport residents said “yes, yes, yes.” With 2,074 votes for and 636 against, the $163,306,840 budget passed, while support was also strong for the capital reserve expenditure, with 2,197 votes for and 512 against. This will allow the district to use capital reserves to fund additional projects including resurfacing/replacing two tennis courts and replacing the fence at William J. Brosnan School, installing new operable gymnasium windows at East Northport Middle School, replacing circuit panels at Northport High School, replacing auditorium seating at William J. Brosnan School and replacing classroom ceilings at Dickinson Avenue Elementary School. Donna McNaughton beat out Thomas Loughran for the lone seat up for grabs with 1,750 votes to Loughran’s 769.

Port Jefferson
Community members passed the nearly $43 million proposed budget 338-74. Renovations and upgrades using the capital reserve funds was also passed, 368-43. Incumbents Adam DeWitt and David Keegan were re-elected to serve three-year terms, with 357 and 356 votes, respectively.

Rocky Point
Rocky Point residents voted to pass the $83,286,346 budget with 663 saying yes, while 246 said no. The district also sought voter approval to access $3,385,965 million from its capital reserve fund in order to complete facility renovations across the district. For that proposal, 600 voted for and 312 against.

“We are extremely grateful for the community’s support of our proposed budget and capital improvement plan,” Rocky Point Superintendent Michael Ring said. “The educational enhancements included in this budget are ones that we believe will further support the needs of Rocky Point students while also providing them with opportunities to succeed at even greater levels, while still maintaining our commitment to fiscal responsibility.”

Incumbent board of education member Sean Callahan and newcomer Joseph Coniglione, who is principal of Comsewogue High school, were elected with 713 and 641 votes, respectively.

Shoreham-Wading River
Voters approved the $74, 842,792 budget 1,112 for to 992 against, and passed the capital reserve fund with 1,282 yes’ to 813 nos. The people are calling for change, as Katie Anderson (1,318), Henry Perez (1,303), Erin Hunt (1,279) and Michaell Yannuci (1,087) won seats, while James Smith (1,015), Jack Costas (563) and John Zukowski (524) missed the mark. Yannucci, who has previously been on the board, will be taking the one-year seat left by Michael Fucito, and both incumbents have been ousted.

Smithtown
The community passed the proposed budget with 2,241 yes votes to 693 no. Incumbents Gledy Waldron and Joanne McEnroy, who were running unopposed, won back their seats with 2,095 and 2,090 votes, respectively.  Matthew Gribbin defeated incumbent Grace Plours with 1,835 votes to Plourde’s 1,155.

Three Village
Three Village residents voted 1,708 for to 719 against the proposed $204.4 million budget. With no challengers, incumbents Jeff Kerman, Irene Gische and Inger Germano won back their seats with 1,805, 1,794 and 1,753 votes, respectively.

Stock photo.

Northport

The Northport-East Northport school district has proposed a $163.3 million budget for 2017-18, which includes a slight reduction in staff due to a consistent trend of decreasing enrollment and several projects to improve school grounds and facilities. The budget stays within the school’s state-mandated tax levy cap — increasing the tax levy by 1.57 percent — and is a 1.22 percent increase from last year’s total budget.

Northport-East Northport Superintendent Robert Banzer. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

The district has presented multiple budget presentations throughout the month of April, which have focused on personnel and benefits; administrative and instructional changes; and buildings and ground changes.

Superintendent Robert Banzer said during the March 16 meeting the district expects to see an enrollment drop of 146 students next year, with the largest decreases in grades four, six, and 11. This has led the district to propose eliminating a teaching position at Fifth Avenue Elementary School, two at Norwood Elementary School, one at Ocean Primary School and two at East Northport Middle School for grade six. The change would result in an increase in class sizes for elementary school classes.

One health position and four positions from the art, music and physical education realm will be removed, as well as a few staff support positions. In total the proposed 2017-18 budget includes funding for seven fewer positions than the current year’s budget.

Several Northport-East Northport residents and parents of students wrote to their board, pleading for class sizes not to be changed.

“I am writing to request that class size remain the same and not be increased,” Colleen and Kevin Mahoney said. “Both [of our] children have had a wonderful education in our district. I believe this to be due to smaller class size. As a teacher, I know first-hand every extra child in a class means less individual attention to others.”

Parents Caryn and Jonathon Ciaio shared the same concerns.

“This is very disappointing and we feel strongly this decision would not be in the best interests of our children or the community,” they said. “We feel very strongly that smaller class sizes has been extremely beneficial for our children and allows for an appropriate balance of time and attention between students.”

Nearly 100 parents of third-grade students at Fifth Avenue Elementary School signed a petition to keep class sizes the same.

The buildings and grounds budget is proposed to decrease by $3.7 million or 13.6 percent from last year’s total. The budget includes plans to repair and reseal tennis courts at East Northport Middle School, repair driveways and sidewalks, replace bleachers at William J. Brosnan School, and more. The 2017-18 transportation budget includes the purchase of one new bus.

Middle schools students will see new educational opportunities if the proposed budget is passed, with plans to create robotics and automation study units for seventh- and eighth-graders; bring advanced manufacturing technology for wood and metal technology education; and the purchase of mini 3-D printers. Robotic electives and engineering courses are also in the budget.

But one Northport resident and former board of education candidate doesn’t think the current budget offers enough STEM opportunities for students.

“Northport-East Northport is trailing behind other districts when it comes to introducing STEM opportunities in the lower grades, especially in middle school,” Shawne Albero said in a letter to the board. She urged the board to offer more robotic clubs for younger students.

For art and performing arts students, the budget includes the purchase of a high performance potter’s wheel, a digital soundboard and wireless microphone system for the high school auditorium.

The board will hold a hearing on the finalized budget May 4, and the community will have the chance to vote May 16.

Harborfields

Harborfields Superintendent Francesco Ianni. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

After submitting and passing a cap-piercing budget last year which required 60 percent support from district residents on election day, this year the Harborfields Central School District has proposed a budget that stays within the state-mandated cap, while maintaining current programs — including the recent addition of full-day kindergarten. The proposed $84.4 million budget is about  $1.6 million more than last year’s total. If passed the tax levy will increase by 0.16 percent. Superintendent Francesco Ianni said at a March 22 meeting the district is expected to receive about $16 million in state aid.

Ianni said the proposed plan maintains class size guidelines, advanced placement and elective courses, music performing groups, athletics and full-day kindergarten. The budget would also add grounds staff for long-term maintenance, expand science research, special education programs, as well as enhancing the curriculum plan and initiatives, including the Harborfields 2.0 Technology Initiative, which is described as a plan to strategically align resources for longer-term sustainability.

“Through this spending plan, resources have been reallocated so that the district is able to enhance certain programs and services without incurring additional costs,” Ianni said in a statement. “There are a lot more science programs going to the high school, and we’re very proud of that,” he said at the March 22 meeting.

Ianni explained expanded science research would include adding three more sections to the introductory class, and the district’s special education program would be extended to make it a true 12-month program, so students no longer have to go off-site during the summer months. He also said Harborfield’s  tech initiative, which supports the integration of more technology throughout the district, would include launching a Google Chromebook pilot program for four ninth-grade teachers to integrate the use of Chromebooks into the curriculum. The devices are laptops powered with Google applications and are ideal for collaborative classroom work. The district hopes to have Chromebooks fully integrated into the school’s curriculum by the 2021-22 school year.

The budget will be adopted April 19, and the public hearing is set for May 9. District residents will have their chance to vote May 16.

Huntington

Huntington school district’s proposed $126.2 million budget would expand enrollment in Advanced Placement and high school elective courses, upgrade facilities, add summer enrichment classes and more. The district’s state-mandated tax levy increase cap is set at 1.86 percent, and the district comes in below that at a 1.42 percent tax levy increase. The total budget calls for a 2.42 percent increase from last year’s total. Unlike other schools in the area, Huntington is experiencing an increasing trend in enrollment, which will help revenue going forward.

Superintendent Jim Polansky. File photo by Rohma Abbas

The largest chunks of cost increases come from instruction and employee benefits. Other budget cost drivers include increased traffic costs, computer technologies, network maintenance and increased utility costs. Construction of a security vestibule at Flower Hill Elementary School is a $100,000 proposed project, and other specific costs outlined in the budget include $30,000 for a teacher’s center, and $25,000 for computer equipment.

Along with the budget, voters must also weigh in on two other propositions the school board has presented. Proposition 2 asks voters to approve release of funds already in the district’s capital reserve fund for completion of state-approved projects. This would have no impact on the tax levy or tax rate, and if the community does not vote for it, the money remains in the capital reserve fund but can’t be used for any other purpose. Proposition 3 asks voters to approve the creation of a new building improvement fund in the capital reserve, with the purpose of completing district-wide renovation and reconstruction projects.

“Use of the district’s building improvement funds have helped considerably to keep 60-year-old buildings in top shape with needed improvements and upgrades, all of which are delineated within a long-term capital plan,” Superintendent James Polansky said. “Establishment of a new fund will allow the district to continue such work responsibly, as well as to keep debt levels at their currently low levels.” This action would also have no impact on the tax levy or tax rate.

Budget adoption is set for April 18, and the public hearing is May 8. Residents will be able to vote for or against the budget and the two propositions May 16.

For young Northport students, creativity was in the air recently at the Invention Convention.

Gifted and Talented Parents Association, a parent group in the district, hosted the 16th annual Invention Convention at the William J. Brosnan administration building on Feb. 25, where students displayed their innovative projects.

The convention was open to kindergarten through sixth grade students in the district. About 25 projects were on display for community members, school administrators and school board members in attendance.

“The Invention Convention is focused on inspiring, encouraging and celebrating the creativity and ingenuity of our children,” a press release from the GTPA said. “Their natural curiosity and imagination are a perfect combination to create something new.”

One of the projects on display was “The Rotating House,” created by Fifth Avenue Elementary School second grader Andrew Mead, which turns a house at its foundation to allow sunlight into whichever room a homeowner desires at a given time.

“I think it would be very useful for everyone,” Mead said about his invention. “Some people may just want to take a nap or something but they can’t because the sun is shining right on them, and they might not want to wait so long for the sun to move around by itself.”

Logan Hecht, a first grader from Dickinson Elementary School, invented “Fork-A-Seal” for containers with snacks that come without plastic ware.

“I got this idea because one day I was going to have fruit salad for breakfast, but we were out of forks so I thought that this plastic piece right here could be a fork, so you’d always have a fork ready,” Hecht said. “You waste a piece of plastic that could be used for something good.”

Some other inventions included second grader Mitchell Cartwright’s “Second Life,” which turns used lunch trays into planters; first grader Jeffery Raynor’s “The Automatic Duster 5000,” which automatically cleans shelves; third grader Philip Bechtold’s “Adjustable Dish Drying Rack;” and first grade twins Liam and Jack Healy’s “Storm Glow RCI,” which are colorful lanterns for when the power goes out.

Northport running back Rob Dosch makes his way upfield while he carries Sachem North defenders in the Tigers' 29-22 homecoming win over the Flaming Arrows on Sept. 19. Photo by Bill Landon

By Miguel Bustamante

Northport school district is enacting stricter rules for handling student-athletes with concussions.

School board members were informed of new procedures for kids returning to athletics after those injuries during their meeting on Nov. 5, using guidance from New York State regulations.

Northport running back Rob Dosch makes his way upfield while he carries Sachem North defenders in the Tigers' 29-22 homecoming win over the Flaming Arrows on Sept. 19. Photo by Bill Landon
Northport running back Rob Dosch makes his way upfield while he carries Sachem North defenders in the Tigers’ 29-22 homecoming win over the Flaming Arrows on Sept. 19. Photo by Bill Landon

Paul Klimuszko, Northport-East Northport’s director of physical education, athletics and health, and Cynthia Fitzgerald, director of student support services, made a presentation to the board outlining the new procedures to follow if a student has a concussion.

“A concussion is an injury that changes the ways the cells in our brain function,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s important to understand that a concussion is a brain injury, and can occur in any sport.”

According to Fitzgerald, there are between 70 and 90 concussions in the district every year, including at the middle and high school levels.

The two administrators laid out the “return to play” regulations, which are used across the country and require students to complete a five-stage observational test before full re-entry into school-sponsored physical activities.

The five stages include light to moderate aerobic exercises observed by the school nurse and/or an athletic trainer; a non-contact gym class participation period; and a full-contact gym class participation period. A school district physician must clear the concussed students before he or she can be fully reintegrated into school athletics.

The presentation followed a previous district discussion about student safety in school athletics. That subject has been a hot topic over the last few years, but particularly since Tom Cutinella, a high school football player from Shoreham-Wading River, died after taking a big hit in a game against John Glenn High School in Elwood last year. School districts across Long Island have been making changes to their concussion responses following Cutinella’s death, and there have been new directions from the state on the matter.

Northport-East Northport Superintendent Robert Banzer. Photo by Victoria Espinoza
Northport-East Northport Superintendent Robert Banzer. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

New York State’s Concussion Management and Awareness Act of 2011 requires local school boards to develop and promote concussion management policies. According to the act, children and adolescents are more susceptible to concussions and take longer than adults to fully recover.

“Therefore, it is imperative that any student suspected of having sustained a concussion be immediately removed from athletic activity … until evaluated and cleared to return to athletic activity by a physician,” the act said.

Northport school officials don’t take concussions lightly, Klimuszko said.

“The athletic office ensures that all coaches are educated in the nature and risk of concussions and concussion-related injuries.”

Northport-East Northport school board members are looking into whether or not the district should buy iPads for trustees to be used at meetings instead of paper agendas. Stock photo

Northport-East Northport school board members earlier this month discussed whether the district should pay for iPads that trustees could use during meetings.

The idea was introduced by board member David Stein as a way to reduce costs of paper. The idea, however, was sharply denounced by the board’s Vice President David Badanes.

“I am really unhappy about any money being spent on board members for iPads,” Badanes said at the Oct. 8 board meeting. “I think it’s outrageous.”

Badanes, who was the lone naysayer, said he doesn’t have a problem with board members bringing their own iPads or electronic devices to meetings — he just doesn’t want the district to pay for them, he said.

According to District Clerk Beth Nystrom, there is currently no district policy that finances electronic devices for members of the school board’s use exclusively. She did say that board members are welcome to use district-owned electronic devices at board meetings, but presently none do.

Other board members said that while it may be fine for Badanes to have his own personal opinion, it’s not something he should hold everyone else to.

“Personal convictions are fine but each person should be given the right to decide,” Trustee Jennifer Thompson said. “It should not impugn the rest of us.”

Trustee Lori McCue said she felt it was unfair to tell board members who wanted to use an electronic device to bring one from home.

“I don’t know if it’s appropriate,” McCue said. “What if you don’t already own one of these devices?”

Stein claimed it’s more cost effective for the board to use electronic devices instead of getting paper agendas and other documents sent to their homes before each meeting.

“We spend nearly $800 worth of paper every year [on each board member],” Stein said. “If individuals want to embrace it, they’re saving $800 in taxpayer money.”

Stein said regular agendas are also not the only documents that are printed for board members every year.

“Based on 24 scheduled meetings per year, and an average of six specially called meetings plus the budget season, which can produce budget documents several times the size of a regular weekly package,” Stein said in an email. “The regular board member could receive anywhere from 22,000 pages during the course of a year.”

According to Nystrom, the cost is quite low to send board members paper agendas to their home annually.

“The approximate cost the district pays per board member to send printed copies of the agenda to their houses before meetings is approximately $35 per year,” Nystrom said in an email.

Board President Andrew Rapiejko encouraged board members to try and find the best way to serve the district.

“Everyone wants to do this job as effectively and efficiently as possible,” Rapiejko said. “They shouldn’t be criticized for trying to get the right tools. If the district can provide this tool, I think it should be discussed.”

Rapiejko also said that it is not for the board’s personal benefit to use these devices. “The district isn’t giving these out to board members,” Rapiejko said. “These are purchased for the district’s use.”

Trustee Regina Pisacani said she has been to other district board meetings where board members using electronic devices.

Rapiejko said the board could resume discussing this topic during budget season.

Northport-East Northport Superintendent Robert Banzer. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

Northport-East Northport Superintendent Robert Banzer updated the school board and audience members about the changes in Common Core Learning Standards at a meeting last week.

The Oct. 22 presentation covered upcoming state assessment changes and teacher and principal annual professional performance reviews (APPR) shifts.

According to Banzer’s presentation, as far as learning standards go, the English language arts and math common core standards have been adopted and implemented, the social studies standards have been adopted but not implemented and the science standards are only under review and have not yet been adopted or implemented.   

Several shifts are happening in the ELA and literacy, social studies and mathematic standards. The shifts in ELA and literacy are mostly focused on having students engage with the text more.

Students will have a “true balance of informational and literary texts,” according to the presentation and students will build knowledge about the world “through text rather than the teacher.”

The math changes include striking a balance between practicing and understanding math skills in the classroom.

“Both are occurring with intensity,” according to the presentation. There is also an emphasis on students “deeply understanding” math concepts. “They learn more than the trick to get the answer right. They learn the math.”

New social studies standards mirror those in ELA and literacy.

These include using informational text to support an argument to help students “develop the skills necessary for 21st century college, career and citizenship standards.”

In June 2018, a new global history and geography exam will be administered based on the new framework, and in June 2019 a new US history and government exam will follow.

For science standards, a steering committee was formed in August 2014 and a public survey is currently being developed to gather feedback on a new set of science learning standards for grades pre-kindergarten to 12. Adoption of a five-year strategic plan is anticipated in 2016.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has created a Common Core task force amid growing boycotts of standardized tests.

According to the governor’s website, the task force is a diverse and highly qualified group of education officials, teachers, parents and state representatives from across New York. The group will complete a review and deliver its final recommendations by the end of this year.

There are also changes to assessments, including a greater input from teachers in the test development process.

In grades three through eight, ELA tests will have fewer questions in 2015-2016. Computer based testing will also be field-tested.

Changes to APPR are also on the way.

A new education law requires districts to negotiate new annual professional performance review criteria by Nov. 15, unless the district applies for and receives a hardship waiver, which would extend its deadline.

Banzer said that Northport-East Northport has applied for and received its hardship waiver just last week. The waiver is for four months and a district can apply again for another extension, according to the presentation.

“Knowing from May to November, for many districts, to negotiate would be impossible or impractical to try,” Banzer said. “We bought ourselves some much needed time with this process.”

Members of the Northport-East Northport school board discuss creating an ASL course during an Oct. 8 meeting. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

The Northport-East Northport school board mulled adding American Sign Language to the district’s curriculum at a meeting on Thursday.

Currently no such course is offered in Northport-East Northport schools.

“ASL is something I find really interesting, and many other students do too,” Emily Faltings, a student at Northport High School, said. “I think it’s very important we involve it in our district. Why don’t we have it?”

Many audience members agreed that it’s important for the district to add a sign language course.

“It’s not just for special needs kids who have hearing loss,” Cathy Josephson, a Northport resident said. “It’s also for people who want to communicate with them.”

Josephson said she has brought the issue to the board’s attention for the last six years, and she hopes members actually follow through this time.

Matthew Nelson, assistant superintendent for instruction and administration, said the reason the course hasn’t been offered is because the district can never get enough students to fill a full class. Trustee Jennifer Thompson wondered if this was because students aren’t getting enough exposure to the different language choices at a young age.

“I don’t know if there is a chance for students to recognize what other languages they could take,” Thompson said. “Maybe there could be more of a discussion about what other languages students could take and are interested in.”

Board President Andrew Rapiejko said that it sounds like no one on the board is opposed to the idea, and that the real challenge is figuring out how to publicize the course.

Superintendent Robert Banzer wondered where school officials would begin.

“Do we start this at the high school level?” Banzer said. “What would be the entry point? These are questions we can definitely look into.” Banzer also said the district could look into offering an ASL course at the middle school instead.

Trustee Regina Pisacani said language teachers in the district inform potential students of their course. She said the teachers from the middle school visit fifth grade classes and give presentations to the students about the language classes they teach.

“I think a lot of the students’ choices are influenced by the exposure of the teachers coming into their classroom,” Pisacani said. She said she thought that would be a good approach in publicizing an ASL course.

Trustee Lori McCue said that maybe ASL could be added to the elementary schools’ after-school programs, and many audience members cheered for the idea.

“That’s an obvious solution,” Rachel Friedman, a Northport resident said. “This is not something that should wait until high school. I think the best suggestion is to start it as an after-school program and then they can make that choice to continue in seventh or eighth grade.”

The board agreed that it would look into these options. No other decisions were made.

Members of the Northport-East Northport school board discuss creating an ASL course during an Oct. 8 school board meeting. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

The Northport-East Northport school board mulled adding American Sign Language to the district’s curriculum at a meeting on Thursday.

Currently no such course is offered at Northport-East Northport.

“ASL is something I find really interesting, and many other students do too,” Emily Faltings, a student at Northport High School said. “I think it’s very important we involve it in our district. Why don’t we have it?”

Many audience members agreed that it’s important for the district to add a sign language course.

“It’s not just for special needs kids who have hearing loss,” Cathy Josephson, a Northport resident said. “It’s also for people who want to communicate with them.”

Josephson said that she has brought the issue to the board’s attention for the last six years, and that she hopes members actually follow through this time.

Matthew Nelson, assistant superintendent for instruction and administration, said the reason the course hasn’t been offered is because the district can never get enough students to fill a full class. Trustee Jennifer Thompson wondered if this was because students aren’t getting enough exposure to the different language choices at a young age.

“I don’t know if there is a chance for students to recognize what other languages they could take,” Thompson said. “Maybe there could be more of a discussion about what other languages students could take and are interested in.”

Board President Andrew Rapiejko said that it sounds like no one on the board is opposed the idea, and that the real challenge is figuring out how to publicize the course.

Superintendent Robert Banzer wondered where school officials would begin.

“Do we start this at the high school level?” Banzer said. “What would be the entry point? These are questions we can definitely look into.” Banzer also said the district could look into offering an ASL course at the middle school instead.

Trustee Regina Pisacani said language teachers in the district inform potential students of their course. She said the teachers from the middle school visit fifth grade classes and give presentations to the students about the language classes they teach.

“I think a lot of the students choices are influenced by the exposure of the teachers coming into their classroom,” Pisacani said. She said she thought that would be a good approach in publicizing an ASL course.

Trustee Lori McCue said that maybe ASL could be added to the elementary schools’ after-school programs, and many audience members cheered for the idea.

“That’s an obvious solution,” Rachel Friedman, a Northport resident said. “This is not something that should wait until high school. I think the best suggestion is to start it as an after-school program and then they can make that choice to continue in seventh or eighth grade.”

The board agreed that it would look into these options. No other decisions were made.

School committee to pitch 5-year plan for facilites

The Northport High School football team plays at home. File photo by Kevin Freiheit

Northport-East Northport school district’s Athletic Citizens Advisory Committee is exploring turf fields and other upgrades to school facilities.

The group plans to present formal recommendations to the school board in coming weeks, according to Trustee Regina Pisacani, who spearheaded the creation of the group.

Pisacani delivered an update at the Sept. 24 school board meeting, and said that the committee had made much progress over the summer. She said members of the group had toured nearly every building in the district, and had been able to create a list of all the improvements they deemed necessary.

“We were joined by Anthony Resca, superintendent of [buildings] and grounds, and Bernard Krueger, [supervisor] of buildings and grounds, who were able to add their insight and answer all the questions we had,” Pisacani said in a phone interview.

The committee also looked different options to add to the district, likes synthetic turf and natural turf, sod repairs and more. The group also reached out the coaches within the district to get their input.

“No one knows the athletes and what they need better than the coaches,” Pisacani said. “Many coaches in the district feel that Northport athletes are not offered a level playing field compared to other schools right now because of the state of the facilities at Northport.”

The committee has also met with Ed Parrish, a civil engineer for Huntington Town. “We wanted to hear the community feedback that he’s received for the jobs he’s done,” Pisacani said.

SPRINTURF and LANDTECH also spoke with the committee to give their insight on how their businesses would work with the district, according to Piscani.

And finally, the committee also toured other school districts, to see their athletic facilities and the upgrades they’ve made that worked out well for their schools.

Pisacani said they viewed fields at Bethpage school district and Manhasset school district. At Manhasset they were able to tour with Jim Amen, Manhasset’s director of physical education and athletics, who also answered many questions they had.

The committee is currently discussing recommendations to present to the board. Each school has its own list of needs. Pisacani said committee members still need to tally up the monetary value of their recommendations.

“After we put costs to everything, we will present the board with our recommended five-year plan,” Pisacani said. “Then it is up to the will of the board to decide if they want to go forward.”

Although the committee expects to deliver recommendations to the board in December, Pisacani is hopeful they will be able to present much sooner than then.

The Northport-East Northport school district’s Athletic Citizens Advisory Committee was born out of a number of parents who urged school board members to consider funding upgrades to the district facilities in the school’s budget back in January. Twenty-seven parents emailed the school board saying that the current state of the schools facilities were “embarrassing” and could be a “safety hazard.”

The school board approved the formation of the committee in March, made up of 15 district residents and spearheaded by Pisacani. Aside from inspections and evaluations of the athletic facilities in the district, the committee was also charged with determining the costs of their recommended repairs and analyzing outside funding opportunities to pay for the upgrades.

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