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Scott Reh

Rocky Point board of ed Trustees Joseph Coniglione and Ed Casswell and President Susan Sullivan discuss the vote results May 15. Photo by Kyle Barr

Despite a storm that plowed through Long Island at the same time that many residents were to head out to vote May 15, Rocky Point residents passed the school districts $86,128,785 budget with 499 yes votes to 226 no.

“The most important thing for us was to put forward a budget that is fiscally responsible while we continually try to grow options for students at our schools,” Superintendent Michael Ring said.

The largest increases came from teacher benefits and new general education initiatives, like science, technology, engineering and math initiatives, new Advanced Placement courses and special education services.

Ring said he was disappointed with the voter turnout compared to last year, which saw 909 residents come out to vote. Ring partially blamed Tuesday’s storm that came around when the district usually sees most come out to vote.

“Most come out to vote after 5 p.m.,” Ring said. “Thankfully enough came out.”

Two trustee seats were opened on the board. Incumbent Ed Casswell was voted to his second term with 551 votes and newcomer Gregory Amendola was elected to the board with 571 votes. The race was uncontested, with current board Vice President Scott Reh stepping down.

“We have a great board of education — its going to be a loss that Reh is leaving, but Greg Amendola is going to be a great addition to the team,” said Casswell, a 26-year resident who was elected alongside Reh in 2015.

The vice president, who is Mount Sinai’s athletic director, said he felt it was time to step down after nine years on the board.

“I did it for three terms, but it was very time consuming,” Reh said. “I think the board’s doing a great job. I think I’m leaving it in very good hands. I was honored and privileged to serve on it. I wish everyone the best of luck.”

Casswell has been a member of the North Shore Little League for 10 years and is currently the principal of Center Moriches High School.

“I feel it is important to be an active member of a community,” he said. “High levels of altruism and service among citizens help create vibrant communities. This has always been my driving force and calling. I believe in these notions and love serving.”

Amendola, a 13-year resident who is looking to get the community more involved, echoed Casswell’s comments about losing Reh, but said he looks forward to being on the board.

“It’s an exciting time,” Amendola said. “I’m excited to be part of the team and make a difference. As of now I really just want to get in and get my feet wet and help any way I can.”

The board members will assume their trustee positions at the July organizational meeting. There the board will also elect a president and vice president for next year.

Rocky Point board of education trustee Ed Caswell, on left, is running for re-election. Newcomer Gregory Amendola, on right, is also running following the step-down of Vice President Scott Reh. File photos

Two candidates are running for two open Rocky Point board of education seats this May.

Following the news of Vice President Scott Reh choosing to step down,incumbent Ed Casswell is choosing to run again, while newcomer Gregory Amendola chose to throw his hat in the ring for the open seat.

Reh, Mount Sinai’s athletic director, said he felt it was time to step down after nine years on the board.

“I did it for three terms, but it was very time consuming,” Reh said. “I think the board’s doing a great job. I think I’m leaving it in very good hands. I was honored and privileged to serve on it. I wish everyone the best of luck.”

Casswell, a 26-year Rocky Point resident, is serving his third year on the board.

“I’m hoping to continue serving to help oversee the operations of the district, specifically our charge to be fiscally responsible, provide opportunities for students — for college and career — and to strengthen safety protocols districtwide,” Casswell said.

“I did it for three terms, but it was very time consuming. I think the board’s doing a great job. I think I’m leaving it in very good hands. I was honored and privileged to serve on it.”

— Scott Reh

The trustee has been a member of the North Shore Little League for 10 years and is currently the principal of Center Moriches High School.

“I feel it is important to be an active member of a community,” he said. “High levels of altruism and service among citizens help create vibrant communities. This has always been my driving force and calling. I believe in these notions and love serving.”

Gregory Amendola is a 13-year resident who said he’s running to try and get the community more involved and informed on how the school district makes decisions.

“I wanted to be a voice for the kids in the district — I want to make sure every kid in the district is spoken for,” Amendola said. “I’m big on communication, and I still feel like there’s people in the dark who don’t even know we have board meetings. I feel the district for the most part is doing well, but I just want people to be more informed about what’s going on.”

Amendola works as a dental ceramist, making prosthetics like crowns, bridges and other implants. He was vice president for the Long Island Sharks football team board, has previously run St. Anthony’s CYO soccer club and has been parent liaison for the junior varsity and varsity Rocky Point Wrestling teams.

“My grandparents lived in Rocky Point before I moved here with my wife, so I always had a connection to the town,” he said. “It still has that small-town feel.”

Amendola said that he’s excited to be working with the rest of the board.

“I don’t have anything that I want to change right out of the gate,” Amendola said. “I want to get involved, find my place, find my rhythm, then as we go further I want to make my voice heard.”

The trustees vote will take place along with the budget vote May 15, from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the Rocky Point High School gym, located at 82 Rocky Point-Yaphank Road in Rocky Point. In July, at the board’s organizational meeting where the elected members from May will assume their trustee positions, the board will elect a president and vice president.

Superintendent Marianne Higuera discusses the proposed budget at a school board meeting. File photo by Barbara Donlon

Another end to the school year brings another round of budget votes. Local school districts adopted 2018-19 budgets saw increases with attempts to expand programs, repair infrastructure and increase security measures around campus.

All budget and board elections votes will take place May 15.

Shoreham-Wading River High School. File photo by Desirée Keegan

Shoreham-Wading River

The Shoreham-Wading River board of education adopted a $74,776,072 budget, an increase of $701,500 from the 2017-18 school year.

“The district’s exceptional programs, and the performance of its students academically, artistically and athletically are a great source of pride to our community,” Superintendent Gerard Poole said in an email. “The 2018-19 proposed budget fully maintains all current student programs and includes additional new student offerings.”

Poole said new offerings include high school electives and clubs in elementary and secondary school. The expanded budget also allocates for hiring a new middle school psychologist. The district plans to contract with an outside agency for any problems that go beyond the work of in-house psychologists.

The tax levy, or the money a district raises through property taxes to fund its budget, has dropped half a percent, a $269,775 total decrease from last school year.

In an April 18 presentation on the proposed budget, Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations Glen Arcuri said that the tax levy decrease is due to an increase of state aid, specifically building aid for renovations.

“The district spent money, successfully completing them as aggressively as the district was able to,” Aruci said. “This allowed the money to be returned back to the taxpayers because the formula requires the district reduce the tax levy by the return of the building aid.”

The budget also expands elementary enrichment clubs, the middle school’s chromebook program, security measures — including an anonymous reporting app — and includes money for maintenance projects and one-time equipment purchases like two new maintenance-work vans.

A budget hearing will take place May 1 at 7 p.m. at Shoreham-Wading River High School. The budget vote will take place May 15 from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the Shoreham-Wading River High School auxiliary gym, located at 250A Route 25A in Shoreham.

Rocky Point High School. File photo by Desirée Keegan

Rocky Point

The Rocky Point board of education adopted a $86,128,785 budget, an increase of $2,842,439 from the 2017-18 school year.

The largest increases came from teacher benefits and new general education initiatives, like STEM initiatives, new Advanced Placement courses and special education services.

“The proposed budget is one that was developed with an eye toward our district’s mission – to develop each child’s full potential in a nurturing and supportive, student-centered environment in order to provide a foundation for lifelong learning,” Rocky Point Superintendent Michael Ring said in an email. “Our budget planning process also placed a strong focus on the fiscal health of our district and the commitment we have to taxpayers to operate in the most financially-efficient manner possible.”

The budget includes a 3.1 percent tax levy increase at $1,536,959 from last year. Board officials said that the increase stays within the tax levy increase cap.

“We kept things current,” board Vice President Scott Reh said. “We didn’t cut anything. We kept the programs in place and I think we were very responsible.”

A budget hearing will take place May 1 at 7 p.m. in the High School auditorium. The budget vote will be May 15 from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the Rocky Point High School gym, located at 82 Rocky Point Yaphank Rd. in Rocky Point.

Miller Place High School. File photo by Kevin Redding

Miller Place

The Miller Place board of education adopted a $72,685,864 budget, an increase of $1,495,189 from the 2017-18 school year.

“The budget increase at 2 percent maintains all current academic programs, clubs and athletics, as well as maintaining our capital project planning, and we’re pleased we’re presenting that within the tax cap,” Superintendent Marianne Cartisano said.

Under the proposed budget the tax levy will see a 2.8 percent increase of $1,261,274 from the previous year. The increase stays within the tax levy increase cap, meaning a cap-piercing vote won’t be necessary.

The proposed budget plan include a $530,000 transfer to capital funds, boasts the inclusion of new initiatives, including new high school courses Chemistry Honors, Virtual Enterprise — a course on learning about global business and enterprise — and Engineering Design using VEX Robotics, which design kits used to design automated devices and robots.

“They’re there to address interest in different programs,” board President Johanna Testa said of the new classes. “Science Technology Engineering and Math is a big interest in our community — robotics falls right into that area. It’s trying to be timely and up-to-date with what’s going on in our world.”

A budget hearing will take place May 8 at 8 p.m. at Miller Place High School. The budget vote will be May 15 from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the North Country Road Middle School gym, at 191 North Country Rd. in Miller Place.

Mount Sinai High School. File photo by Barbara Donlon

Mount Sinai

The Mount Sinai board of education adopted a $60,203,745 budget, an increase of $931,220 from the 2017-18 school year.

Earlier projections put the total budget at $60,469,490, but an increase in state aid, as well as a number of retiring Mount Sinai teachers. have brought the total down.

The largest increases in this year’s budget came from security improvements, including finalizing a bid to hire armed guards. One of the top bids is from the Hauppauge-based security firm Pro Protection Security Inc.

“We just feel that it’s important to have anything that’s a deterrent,” Superintendent Gordon Brosdal said. “When they’re not just in the building, but they’re actually checking ID’s at the gate, it gives people a second thought.”

The budget vote will also include two propositions to be voted on. One is a $750,000 increase to the capital reserve, and the other is a $5,000,000 capital project, coming from the unassigned fund balance, to pay for partial renovations to the high school roof, as well as improvements to the turf, track, bleachers, press box, sidewalks, nets and concrete plaza, while also enhancing security features like perimeter fencing and gates around the school property.

There is a tax levy increase of 1.95 percent, an increase of $766,589 from the previous year.

“I am hopeful and optimistic that it will pass,” board President Lynn Capobianco said. “I think it’s a fiscally sound budget.”

Capobianco was concerned that residents voting on the two other propositions would misunderstand what they are voting for.

“The capital project funds do not come out of the budget,” she said. “It will not raise the tax levy.”

A budget hearing is scheduled for May 8 at 8 p.m. at the middle school auditorium. The budget vote will be May 15 from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Mount Sinai Elementary School, located at 118 North Country Rd. in Mount Sinai.

This version corrects the time and place of the Mount Sinai School District budget vote.

Humbled, dedicated leader immediately credits students and staff

Mount Sinai's 18-year athletic director Scott Reh hugs former girls lacrosse star Sydney Pirreca following a championship win. Photo from Scott Reh

Don’t ask Scott Reh to talk about it, but he’s been named athletic director of the year by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association.

As the news spread throughout Mount Sinai school district, and when boys track and field coach Bill Dwyer and his team stopped in the middle of the hallway to clap for Reh, he simply turned around and said, “Thanks to you and your team — you helped me earn this honor.”

“Here we are recognizing him, and right away he turns it around on us,” Dwyer said, laughing. “It made him feel good, and the kids recognize he earned the distinction, but that’s just the kind of guy he is.”

Mount Sinai athletic director Scott Reh with girls lacrosse head coach Al Bertolone. Photo from Scott Reh

Reh, a natural deflector when it comes to taking any credit for the continued strength of the Mount Sinai program since he was named athletic director in 2000, added another notch to his belt, having previously been inducted into the Rocky Point, Adelphi University and Suffolk County sports halls of fame.

“It was very humbling,” said Reh, who graduated from Rocky Point in 1985 and Adelphi in 1989, and was an All-American lacrosse player at both schools. “I’m very appreciative that my peers voted for me for this award. It’s a great honor.”

Reh is the first full-time athletic director in Mount Sinai’s history, also overseeing health, nursing, security and grounds.

On his first day at school, Reh held a meeting with instructors, including head football coach Vinnie Ammirato, who has been with the program since 1996. Ammirato said Reh’s words and actions immediately struck him.

“That first day I knew we had someone in place who understood the value of athletics, and would be willing to help us however he could,” Ammirato said. “His passion for athletics and his desire to see us succeed is what impressed me the most.”

To get the Mount Sinai facilities up to snuff, Reh advocated for the gyms and weight rooms to get a face-lift and also worked to add several sports teams, like lacrosse.

“We’ve been very, very successful over the years — we’ve had national, state and county championships,” Reh said. “All of our teams are very competitive because of the time they and the coaches put in.”

The athletic director is known for putting in his own time. He’s the vice president of the Rocky Point board of education for starters, and even when visiting his twin sons to watch their lacrosse games at University at Albany, he’ll book a hotel just to crash for a few hours before hitting the road to make it back to school in time.

“Sports have always been in my life, but my goal isn’t about winning or losing, it’s about giving kids the best opportunity to succeed.”

— Scott Reh

“We tell him to take a few hours, come late, but he never listens,” said board of education member Peter Van Middelem. “He’s a professional. He cares about every student, athlete or not, and we’re fortunate to have him. He’s on top of everything.”

Van Middelem, who first met Reh in 2008 and joined the board in 2014, has seen the Rocky Point resident’s care and concern firsthand, saying it even goes beyond athletics. When he traveled with the girls lacrosse team up to the state championship game, to see his daughters Meaghan and Emma play, the athletic director ensured the hotel was booked and there were restaurant options from which to choose. After the girls won, Reh was making phone calls to the fire department and had signs made on the fly to give the Mustangs a proper welcome home. His efforts even extend past his own teams. When there was a case of bedbugs at a hotel his and other students were staying at during a state tournament, he called to get new arrangements made, also aiding West Islip in the switchover, whose athletic director wasn’t present.

Mount Sinai Booster Club president Diane Tabile has also seen the athletic director go above and beyond in generosity with his time. She said she has seen him popping in and out of games, whether late after school or on weekends. This past Saturday, he was upstate watching the wrestling squad take home the first
Division II state title.

High school principal Rob Grable, who was a varsity football assistant and middle school baseball coach when Reh was first hired, said the athletic director has been in everyone’s shoes along the way. Reh was an All-County player who was named MVP during a state championship soccer game his senior season. That year he was presented with the Ray Enners Award, given to the best lacrosse player in Suffolk County, and he finished that year with the most points in state history. He went on to become a lacrosse and soccer coach at New Hyde Park and was an assistant for Stony Brook University’s men’s lacrosse team.

Scott Reh, a longtime Rocky Point resident, is all vice president of the Rocky Point school board. Photo from Scott Reh

“He knows what programs need, he knows how to take programs to the next level and he’s always got the kids in the back of his mind when making his decisions, so you can’t go wrong with that,” Grable said. “But the biggest thing about Scott is he’s all about the kids, and everyone knows that. I don’t think anyone is omnipresent but if there is anyone that’s close to that it’s him.”

Reh’s office is known for always being open, and students and staff are frequently seen cycling through. His coaches not only consider him a mentor but also a close friend.

“I’ve taught and coached at multiple schools and Scott raises the bar high, he’s the best of the best,” said head girls lacrosse coach Al Bertolone, who has been teaching lacrosse at Mount Sinai since 2008. “When you work for somebody like that you will always go above and beyond for him, because that’s what he does for you. He’s a great, great leader, a community guy, he’s selfless and he keeps everyone in constant communication. He’s really created a tradition of excellence.”

The reason Reh doesn’t take the credit is because for him, it’s about recognition for the programs and kids, not his own. His father, George Reh, was a 30-year physical education teacher and head track and field coach at Newfield. The Mount Sinai athletic director said he learned from his dad’s example.

“Sports have always been in my life, but my goal isn’t about winning or losing, it’s about giving kids the best opportunity to succeed,” Scott Reh said. “I love seeing them grow into young men and women who are mature, responsible and dedicated. You learn a lot about a student through athletics, and I think life’s lessons are taught through athletics, so I love being a part of that.”

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