Tags Posts tagged with "Three Village Central School District"

Three Village Central School District

Stony Brook siblings host sixth annual Three Village Kids Lemonade Stand

By Amanda Perelli

What was once a simple lemonade stand in front of a Stony Brook house, has turned into a sweet community-driven event raising thousands each year.

The sixth annual Three Village Kids Lemonade Stand was back at R.C. Murphy Junior High School for the second year on Aug. 8. The event was cofounded by siblings Maddie and Joseph Mastriano with help from dozens of student volunteers from the Three Village Central School District.

Fifty-cent cups of lemonade were poured by young student volunteers and kids played games with athletes from Stony Brook University teams. Sales from the lemonade stand benefit Stony Brook Children’s hospital. At the event, nearly $20,000 was raised toward a goal of $30,000 and donations were still coming in after Aug. 8.

For more information or to make an online donation, visit www.threevillagekidslemonadestand.com or www.gofundme.com/2018-3village-kids-lemonade-stand.

by -
0 275
Sports agent Burton Rocks, right, a former Three Village Central School District student, recently negotiated a six-year $26 million contract for St. Louis Cardinals’ shortstop Paul DeJong. Photo by Scott Rovak

By Anthony Petriello

A Ward Melville High School grad recently scored a home run in the world of sports.

A success story in the making, Burton Rocks, 46, has overcome great adversity to make history in Major League Baseball as a sports agent. Having worked a historic six-year, $26 million deal for St. Louis Cardinals’ shortstop Paul DeJong in the spring, Burton has now reached the upper echelon of sports agents. DeJong’s contract may be worth more than $51 million due to an option to earn more money in the last two years of the contract, which makes it the largest ever awarded to a first-year player in MLB history.

To garner the tremendous success he has achieved, Rocks has overcome a debilitating illness — life-threatening asthma — which he has suffered with since he was a young child. As a student at Ward Melville High School, Rocks said he missed many days in class due to his constant battle with the most extreme form of asthma. He had a passion for band — having played the clarinet and the saxophone — but was rarely able to play at concerts due to his illness, which continued throughout his school years.

As a middle school student at R.C. Murphy Junior High School, Rocks said he felt like an outsider due to his absences and had an issue with bullying when he was present.

“I was the outsider kid with the inhaler,” he said. “But you have to accept what God gives you and move on, and I don’t hold any grudges.”

Rocks said his parents, who still live in the Three Village area, sacrificed a lot for him. His father, world-renowned chemist and author Lawrence Rocks, spent much of his time caring for his son, in and out of the hospital, during his childhood. Rocks said his father always made sure he came back home each night, even when he was away on business.

“My dad used to bring me up food from the coffee shop as a treat when he would come visit me late at night after a business trip,” he said. “My dad might’ve been Dr. Rocks to the world, but to me he was Dad. He was there in the morning every day to wake me up, and at night every night to tuck me in.”

“I was the outsider kid with the inhaler. But you have to accept what God gives you and move on, and I don’t hold any grudges.”

— Burton Rocks

Burton Rocks’ mother, Marlene, a former substitute teacher at Ward Melville, spent just as much, if not more time by his bedside. Rocks said his mother quit her job as a Spanish teacher in New York City to spend more time with him.

When Rocks was able to attend school, he did his best to overcome the difficulty of missing so much class time. He had a special connection with his eighth-grade social studies teacher, Dan Comerford, with whom he still keeps in touch. Comerford worked at Ward Melville as a teacher from 1968–2001 and now lives in Jupiter Inlet Colony, Florida, where he is the mayor and the police commissioner. Comerford had fond memories of meeting Rocks in the mid-1980s, when he helped the junior high school student overcome a bullying problem.

“Because he wasn’t there a lot, there was a lot of work to be made up,” Comerford said. “My goal always [with Rocks] was to tell him to relax and take it easy. He was and is a worrier, but that’s what makes him a fantastic agent, he’s a detail man. I made it my mission back then to take care of him and make sure he wasn’t being picked on by anyone.”

Even during high school, Rocks said he frequently visited St. Charles Hospital due to his condition, but was still able to complete multiple Advanced Placement classes including AP Chemistry, AP Calculus and AP Spanish. Rocks graduated in 1990 and attended Stony Book University, where he graduated with a degree in history in 1994. Rocks continued his education at Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University and graduated with a juris doctor degree in 1997.

During law school, Rocks said he had the unique opportunity to go on scouting missions with the late Clyde King, who was a close friend of Rocks’ father and was special adviser to George Steinbrenner, the late owner of the New York Yankees. Rocks was given the chance to read through the original handwritten scouting reports from Steinbrenner, information that was and still is undisclosed to the public. Rocks also had the opportunity to have an informal pitching tryout at King’s home in North Carolina in 1995, but while he was a great pitcher on his own accord, King did not feel he was ready for the major leagues due to his health issues.

Burton Rocks as a child with his mother Marlene Rocks, a former Ward Melville substitute teacher. Photo from Burton Rocks

The late Norma King, Clyde’s wife, once spoke about Rocks, as recalled by the sports agent: “Clyde always said ‘When one door closes another door opens.’ Burton is living proof of that expression. He threw for Clyde here [in North Carolina] but his health precluded him from playing professionally. When that door closed, he turned to writing.”

After the realization that his option to play professional baseball would not come to fruition, Rocks focused on his writing. He said he worked with King on his memoir “A King’s Legacy: The Clyde King Story” which was released in 1999. Not long after he graduated college, Rocks worked on his second memoir and co-authored the 2003 New York Times best-selling book “Me and My Dad: A Baseball Memoir” with Yankees outfielder Paul O’Neill.

After writing several books, Rocks said he founded the C.L. Rocks Corporation, a sports agency, in 2008. Rocks implemented what he called “the quantified intangibles metric” in his evaluation of MLB players. This metric measured a player’s life experiences and adversities prior to becoming a professional baseball player and took those into account when measuring a player’s value to a team. Rocks looked back at his own adversities as a child and young adult and saw that those life experiences hold value when drafting a player or coach who will be performing in front of millions of people.

“As a kid, you search for answers to feel normal, and this is what I bring to the table,” Rocks said. “That was, for me, a cathartic product of my search. I realized I could apply it to business. I said to myself, ‘Can I find coaches or players that coach or play well because they’ve overcome adversity and know how to channel it into wins?’”

by -
0 290
Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Kevin Scanlon discussed the Advanced Placement Capstone and International Baccalaureate programs at the June 20 board of education meeting. File photo by Andrea Paldy

By Andrea Paldy

Amid the end-of-year festivities, Three Village school officials did not miss a beat when it came to attending to district business. At the last school board meeting before graduation, administrators outlined coming changes to the elementary report card and added rigor to the high school curriculum.

As part of the board’s policy to review programs every five years, a committee of teachers and administrators from elementary and secondary levels reviewed and revised the elementary school report card. Kathryn White, principal at W.S. Mount Elementary School, said that since the last review, there have been changes in educational philosophy and the way teachers assess students and learning behaviors. She said there has also been the introduction of new academic standards, like Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Learning Standards, which also needed to be considered in the two-year review process.

The committee was divided into four separate subcommittees to investigate different aspects of the report card, and the district surveyed faculty and parents on its effectiveness.

New report card notes

C — Consistently exceeds expectations

M — Most times meets expectations

S — Sometimes meets expectations

Y — Not meeting expectations

The committee developed what it believes to be a more simplified format that is easier for parents to understand. Committee member Lauren Horn, a teacher at Mount Elementary, explained that simplicity comes in the form of one achievement grade for each subject. The grades will be on a four-point scale, with a 4 demonstrating work “that exceeds grade level standards.” The scale on the sixth-grade report card will go up to 4.5 to point out “exceptional” students, she said. Effort grades for learning behaviors will represent the “growth mindset” — the concept that student behavior is not set and that students have the potential to improve with continued work, Horn said.

The committee’s report noted that rather than the familiar E (Excellent), G (Good) and I (Improvement needed), these grades will be replaced with C (Consistently exceeds expectations), M (Most times meets expectations), S (Sometimes meets expectations) and Y (Not yet meeting expectations). The comment section will feature a common language for each grade level across the district, said Dawn Alexander, district special education teacher mentor. For the 11 “behaviors related to learning” at the end of the report card, teachers will put an asterisk next to behavior they want to highlight. This is to allow parents to easily see an area in which their child is exceptional or needs more work, Alexander said.

Finally, rather than assigning a Fountas and Pinnell reading level, the report card will show reading level bands, which are a “benchmark and not a grade,” said Diedre Rubenstrunk, a lead instructional technology teacher. This means students are given a reading range based on reading ability and text difficulty.

A second committee that compared two high school diploma programs recommended that the district adopt the four-year-old Advanced Placement Capstone program. This decision came after several years of researching the International Baccalaureate program, an internationally recognized high school course of study that culminates in an International Baccalaureate diploma. The committee spent the past two years comparing the programs, said Kevin Scanlon, assistant superintendent for educational services.

Both programs are rigorous college preparatory study that encourage inquiry, research, analysis and critical thinking, and require long-form writing. To receive the IB diploma, students must take courses in six areas of study — language and literature, language acquisition, individuals and society, math, science and the arts — in addition to a year-long course called Theory of Knowledge for which students write a 1,600-word essay and give an oral presentation. They also must complete a 4,000-word extended essay as well as a community service project, encompassing creativity, activity and service.

Advanced Placement Capstone program requirements

Four AP exams

AP seminar —1,200-word written report, team project, presentation

AP research — 4,000- to 5,000-word essay, presentation, oral defence

Meanwhile, the AP Capstone diploma requires four AP exams, as well as an AP seminar and an AP research class, which are each a year long. The AP seminar includes both a team project and presentation, as well as an individual 1,200-word written report. The writing requirement for AP research is a 4,000- to 5,000-word essay, a presentation and oral defense.

In the case of both the IB extended essay and the AP Capstone essay, the papers are read and graded by readers outside of the high school. Three Village educators noted that the IB extended essay was “decentralized” and not attached to a specific class, which committee members said could be a great disadvantage. They found the AP seminar and AP research courses to offer more hands-on guidance and saw the possibility of pairing the AP research class with the district’s inSTAR science research program.

According to a survey of top colleges conducted by Ward Melville’s guidance department, colleges did not look at one program more favorably than another, said Superintendent Cheryl Pedisich. However, the process of implementing IB or AP Capstone would be drastically different.

The IB program would cost considerably more in application fees — roughly $3,000 — a $7,000 candidacy fee, as well as smaller fees for registration and subjects taught. Once the district’s candidacy was accepted after two years, the district would also have to pay an annual $11,600 fee. There are also costs to cover teacher training and ongoing professional development.

The AP Capstone program would also require teacher training, but the cumulative costs would be considerably less, according to the two program websites.

Since Three Village already offers AP classes, the committee found that adopting the AP Capstone program would be “less of a cultural shift,” and easier to implement. Ward Melville principal Alan Baum said that introducing IB would require new curriculum development and grading schemes and could cause problems for scheduling, maybe even limiting students’ class options.

The committee also pointed out that though some members visited and observed Long Island IB schools, there are not as many IB schools as AP Capstone schools. With the larger number of AP Capstone schools on the Island, Three Village could be a part of a consortium that shares resources and information.

Baum said the program could be more easily adapted to the district’s needs, while still accomplishing the same goals as an IB program. He added that this could all be achieved at a much lower and more sustainable cost to Three Village.

Ward Melville 2018 valedictorian Ethan Li, second from left, poses for a photo before graduation with Liv Halvorsen, salutatorian Michael Lu and student government president Jillian Becker. Photo from the Three Village Central School District

By Rita J. Egan

Ward Melville’s valedictorian felt like he had been checkmated, but then he heard some good news.

Ethan Li was at a chess tournament in Ohio, and he said he was feeling down after losing an important game when his friends started texting him. He discovered his 105.77 weighted average earned him the valedictorian honor for 2018.

Ethan Li

Li moved to Stony Brook from Arizona at the beginning of ninth grade, and it was a big transition from a small private school to a large school district, but he said he’s happy his family made the move.

“I definitely felt there were more opportunities for internships, research, just in general, meeting different kinds of people who had different talents in different fields [here],” he said. “And, I felt like that was a really helpful experience to be able to reach out to them and learn somewhat from them.”

Li said he’s been inspired by his classmates through the years. A couple are former students Hugh Ferguson and Josh Farahzad, who started the nonprofit Mission: Toothbrush, which distributes oral hygiene products to those in need on Long Island. This year Li became co-president of the nonprofit.

Li will attend Princeton University this fall where he will major in operations research and financial engineering — ORFE for short. He said he became interested in ORFE while talking to friends who were first- and second-year students at the university on the same track.

“Initially, I wanted to do neuroscience, but this program combines mathematical modeling with computer science and economics,” he said. “And this seemed a lot like what I was interested in. Ideally, I would still like to combine some kind of aspect of neuroscience in my eventual career, but this just hits so many points that I’m interested in.”

With this course of study, he said plenty of career options will await him when he finishes school. He said he would love to start a company that addresses or brings innovation from neuroscience to the public sector. He said if his plan to own a startup doesn’t work out, he can work in finance or for companies like Google and Facebook in their computer science departments.

Ethan Li and his date Catherine Jiang are all dressed up for prom. Photo from Ethan Li

He said a recent program conducted by Google caught his attention. It involved central processing units playing chess against each other and teaching themselves in isolated loops. He said research like this relates to what he wants to do in the future: applying machine learning and pattern recognition study to neuroscience and neurogenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

In addition to his studies, which included several advanced placement classes, Li started the chess club at Ward Melville, and he volunteers to teach the game to students in the district. This summer he will travel to Paris, France, for a week for the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine annual meeting. The research project he did two years ago titled “Differences in Subcortical Brain Volumes Between Expert and Novice Chess Players” was selected for the conference.

Li said his dad Alan, who works in China for a construction business, and his mother Fung Wang, who works at Stony Brook Cancer Center in data sciences, have always inspired him with their work ethic. The valedictorian said his parents didn’t have any expectations, but instead just provided never-ending support so he could live up to his potential.

When it comes to juggling his education and activities, Li said he thinks of the old Nike ad, “Just Do It.”

“When you start doing one thing, it’s a domino effect upon activity,” he said. “You just want to do more and more.”

Michael Lu, second from right, poses with his parents and sister after graduation June 24. Photo from Michael Lu

By Rita J. Egan

After graduating from Ward Melville High School with a 105.2 weighted average and earning the salutatorian title, Michael Lu isn’t missing a beat when it comes to pursuing his career goals.

Michael Lu

For part of this summer he will be in a lab at Stony Brook University researching electrical activity in the heart, which he started last year, and he said he is hoping to publish the results in the near future. The East Setauket resident is set to attend the University of Pennsylvania in the fall where he will pursue a degree in biochemistry on the pre-chemistry track.

“I aspire to be a respected physician-scientist in the future, preferably focused on cardiology, so that I may combine my interest in cardiovascular research with my interest in the humanitarian aspect of medicine,” Lu said.

The salutatorian said he first developed an interest in becoming a physician talking to his father Zhongju Lu at the dinner table every night. He said his father was a doctor in China, but when he moved to the United States, he was unable to practice medicine due to different education requirements, so he dedicated himself to research. A few years ago, his father decided to become a doctor. He started his residency in his mid-30s, which is later than most doctors, and his father overcoming hurdles to become a physician has inspired Lu.

Lu said his interest in medicine grew while volunteering at John T. Mather Memorial Hospital where he had a chance to interact with patients and visitors at the front desk, work in different departments and watch nurses and doctors treat patients.

“Being a practicing physician interests me on two fronts,” he said. “One is that I really do want to be involved with research, and I also like the aspect of helping people.”

“Being a practicing physician interests me on two fronts. One is that I really do want to be involved with research, and I also like the aspect of helping people.”

— Michael Lu

For a future physician-scientist, it’s only appropriate he found out the news he was salutatorian in Advanced Placement Chemistry class.

“I was so grateful when everyone in class took the time to congratulate me on the good news,” he said. “After a good five minutes, we all returned quietly to completing the assessment, but I was still riding on that feeling of joy for the rest of the day.”

Lu, who took several advanced placement classes at the high school, started his studies in the Three Village Central School District in second grade. Before then he attended kindergarten and first grade at Edna Louise Spear Elementary School in Port Jefferson.

During his senior year, Lu was vice president of the chess team and debate club and captain of the mock trial team. He said his participation in the extracurriculars through the years has cultivated his public speaking skills, and his time at Ward Melville has taught him the value of time management and planning. Those skills, he said, are essential in an environment where students have many opportunities to explore their interests.

“Besides providing me with a wealth of resources — excellent teachers, a variety of clubs/extracurricular activities and a strong academic support network — Ward Melville has an ingrained culture of hard work and perseverance, all of which have helped to propel me to academic success,” he said.

File photo

Preparing for an emergency is at the top of minds in the education world these days. Parents in the Port Jefferson, Comsewogue and Three Village school districts can sleep well, as their kids’ bus company had a unique opportunity to put its preparedness to the test.

Suffolk Transportation Service was among a small group of bus companies in the United States selected by the federal Transportation Security Administration to participate in a training program meant to assess and improve coordination between school bus operators and other agencies in emergency situations. The three local districts are among 16 in Suffolk County that use STS, and about 80 percent of those participated in the training exercise, according to the company’s Vice President of Operations Ray Grimaldi. The day-long training exercise was conducted by representatives from TSA, an agency of the federal Department of Homeland Security, at STS’s training facility in Bay Shore in May. The six-hour exercise featured simulations of actual emergencies, like one in which a bus driver found an explosive device on a school bus and had to decide on courses of action as the intensity of the simulation steadily increased. Grimaldi called the exercise powerful and comprehensive.

“It was actually awesome — it’s so realistic it’s crazy,” Grimaldi said. “It allowed us an opportunity to see how good we are, where we need to improve.”

Grimaldi said the company is still waiting on an official assessment from TSA on its preparedness, but agents conducting the exercise told him it was the best training session the agency has conducted to date. He said part of the reason STS was selected was because about eight years ago, the company volunteered to undergo a voluntary baseline audit by Homeland Security, which Grimaldi said yielded the highest score attainable.

“Our top priority as a school bus operator is student safety,” STS President John Corrado said in a statement. “STS is pleased to be selected to spearhead this training program in Suffolk County, which helped all participants enhance their coordination with other agencies to keep students safe.”

Port Jefferson School District’s Facilities Administrator Fred Koelbel was in attendance for a portion of the exercise.

“It was very interesting, and I think an illuminating exercise,” he said. “It really gave everybody some food for thought. Suffolk Transportation Service is on the cutting edge of so many things. We always say that the students’ day starts when he or she gets on the bus, and they embrace that.”

Local emergency responders including Suffolk County Police Department; the New York State Bus Contractor’s Association; and administrators, security and transportation personnel from the bus company’s districts were on hand to observe and participate in the day’s events.

Grimaldi said STS expects to see the results of the exercise in about two weeks.

by -
0 282
Three Village students work at interactive, virtual reality consoles. Photo from the Three Village Central School District

By Andrea Paldy

To those still traumatized by the time they had to dissect a frog in biology class, something better is on the horizon. And, that something has already arrived in some Three Village classrooms.

At the June 6 board meeting, Kerrin Welch-Pollera, executive director of instructional technology, spoke of the most recent tech upgrades in the district, including the district’s new virtual reality workstations, known as zSpace. She also pointed out that benefits of zSpace, which is up and running at all of the secondary schools, already are evident in Ward Melville’s general labs and anatomy and physiology classes — that’s where the frogs don’t come in.

Interactive, virtual reality consoles were recently introduced at Three Village schools. Photo from the Three Village Central School District

Pollera explained that students use special glasses and a stylus to manipulate virtual organs and subjects from various angles and distances so that they can “interact directly with the content.” She added that zSpace can be used to teach students various topics, like forces of motion and virtual 3-D sculpting, and enables them to do things they could not do in a regular lab, such as see and dissect a human heart, manipulate DNA, or take apart a car engine.

Additionally, Kevin Scanlon, assistant superintendent for educational services, said summer curriculum writing projects will work to further incorporate zSpace into courses.

Pollera, who was recognized during the meeting for receiving the honor of District Administrator Award from the New York Library Association–Section of School Libraries, also spoke about new Chromebooks in elementary classrooms and the installation of interactive, virtual reality workstations at the secondary schools.

As part of the district’s one-to-one device initiative, ninth-grade students at both junior highs received the first wave of Chromebooks in March. After summer break, the notebook computers will be returned to students for use in 10th grade, while next year’s seventh- through ninth-graders will also receive Chromebooks to use at home and at school. Pollera said the district is awaiting approval from the state for its Smart Schools funding, which finances improvements to educational technology, to cover the cost of more Chromebooks, which will be issued to 11th- and 12th-graders.

Three Village students work at interactive, virtual reality consoles. Photo from the Three Village Central School District

In other news, the board approved several administrative appointments, including new principals at P.J. Gelinas Junior High and Setauket Elementary School. Corinne Keane, assistant principal at P.J. Gelinas, was named principal of the school, where she has taught or been an administrator for 15 years. She will take over for William Bernhard, who will be the new principal at Ward Melville High School. Current principal Alan Baum will leave his position at Ward Melville to become the district’s executive director of secondary curriculum and human resources.

Setauket Elementary School will welcome Kristin Rimmer, acting principal at the school this year, as its permanent head. Rimmer began teaching in the district in 2004 and was previously assistant principal and preschool liaison at Nassakeag Elementary School.

Also appointed were Nathalie Lilavois for the position of districtwide director of elementary curriculum and Kerri Golini for director of foreign language and English as a new language.

Trustee incumbents William Connors and Deanna Bavlnka look forward to three more years on the board. Photo by Andrea Paldy

By Andrea Paldy

The Three Village school budget passed with an overwhelming majority May 15.

Of the 1,948 votes cast, 72 percent were in favor of the $209.8 million budget for the 2018-19 school year with 1,412 yes votes and 536 voting no.

Spending will remain within the 1.97 percent cap on the tax levy increase and include enhancements to the well-being of students, as well as to the elementary science and music programs.

Three Village superintendent Cheryl Pedisich was appreciative of residents’ support, saying that Tuesday’s result is a reflection of their values.

“I am most proud of our ability to sustain programs and services we value most without reducing any for budgetary needs.”

— Cheryl Pedisich

“I am most proud of our ability to sustain programs and services we value most without reducing any for budgetary needs,” she said.

“It’s a real affirmation and validation,” said board president William Connors.

He acknowledged that residents “pay a lot of taxes” and said he appreciated their confidence in the board and the administration’s fiscal responsibility.

A small increase in state aid, along with shrinking enrollment and retirements, helped pave the way to some budget additions. Those include another high school guidance counselor and district psychologist and an assistant athletic trainer, officials said. The elementary grades will benefit from the addition of a third-grade orchestra program, along with new assistant teachers to help prepare for the 2020 implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards, which addresses disciplinary core ideas, scientific and engineering practices and cross-cutting concepts.

The district will restructure and combine some of its administrative positions by introducing a chair of foreign language and English as a New Language for kinder-garten through 12th grade. It will also create two coordinating chairs of physical education and health to oversee elementary and secondary grades.

There will also be change at Ward Melville High School. Principal Alan Baum will become executive director of secondary curriculum and human resources and move to the North Country administration building. William Bernhard, currently principal at P.J. Gelinas Junior High, will step into a new role as principal at Ward Melville.

Board president Connors and trustee Deanna Bavlnka ran unopposed to retain their board seats for three more years.

“I’m thrilled,” Connors said about starting his third term. “I enjoy what I’m doing.”

Before rejoining the board in 2012, he had served on the Three Village school board from 1994-2006. When he and his wife moved to Three Village 46 years ago, he said, it was because of the quality of the schools.

“It’s a real affirmation and validation.”

— William Connors

After 18 years of board service, it is “fulfilling to have had an impact on the educational programs,” he said.

Bavlnka, who has served on the board since 2011, said she’s excited and particularly pleased with the positive community engagement. With the goal of fostering communication and interaction between parents and Three Village faculty and administrators, Bavlnka has maintained the Facebook page, Three Village Connection, since 2013. She said she is proud to see that it has been a success.

Other district news

Three Village will enter into a new contract with Suffolk Transportation Service Inc., the bus company that currently provides student transportation to and from school, field trips and athletic events. While contracts between school districts and bus companies can be extended at a rate increase equal to the consumer price index, if both parties agree, the CPI has been low, and Suffolk Transportation did not want an extension of the old contract, said Jeff Carlson, assistant superintendent for business services.

After sending out requests for proposals and considering three bus companies, the school district chose to continue with Suffolk Transportation and will pay an increased rate of 16 percent, Carlson said. The district will extend its contract with Acme Bus Corp., which provides mini-bus service, without a rate increase.

Following the resignation of the district’s treasurer, who will be attending graduate school, the administration has decided not to refill the position. Instead, it will assign treasurer duties to another staff member and issue a $10,000 a year stipend. This will save the district $70,000, Carlson said.

Ward Melville High School. File photo by Greg Catalano

By Andrea Paldy

With residents set to vote on the school budget May 15, Three Village officials reviewed pertinent financial details at a public hearing during the May 2 school board meeting.

$209.8 million budget stays within cap

A main point is that the district will stay within the 1.97 percent cap on the tax levy increase without the need to cut programs, Jeff Carlson, the district’s superintendent for business services, said to those gathered for the Wednesday meeting.

School board president William Connors is running unopposed for his seat on the board. File photo by Andrea Paldy

Highlights of the $209.8 million budget include measures to increase student safety and well-being and to support elementary science and music programs.

Cheryl Pedisich, district superintendent, said the district will hire an additional guidance counselor at Ward Melville High School, as well as a psychologist to administer tests throughout the district to “free up” school psychologists to offer more counseling and guidance. She said security is multi-faceted.

“It’s not just infrastructure and security staff,” she said. “It’s also clinical staff.”

Three Village will receive $34.4 million — an increase of $833,579 —  in aid from the state, Carlson said.  It does not include building aid, which is tied to capital projects that vary from year to year.

The administrators said that declining enrollment at the elementary level, secondary student course preferences, retirements and administrative restructuring, all serve to ease the path for program enhancements.

A decrease of 120 to 130 elementary-age students could mean a reduction of two full-time equivalent positions in the early grades.  Pedisich said that would enable the district to add three teaching assistants to two from existing staffing as it prepares for the 2020 implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards. Lower student numbers also mean that the district can offer third-grade orchestra in the fall.

At the secondary level, changes in course enrollment could lead to a decrease of two to three FTEs, said Pedisich. As a result, the upcoming budget will be able to support an assistant athletic trainer to provide coverage for junior varsity games and seventh- and eighth-grade contact sports, as well as the addition of one full-time equivalent clerical staff member. Each junior high will have its own assistant to support the media specialists with the roll-out of the one-to-one device program that equips seventh through ninth graders with Chromebooks, the superintendent said.

“We have excellent programs and services, and the community has supported us in those efforts.”

— William Connors

Additional positions include one FTE for maintenance and shifting the transition coordinator, who assists special needs students in their move to the next stage after high school, from a contract position to one that is in-house.

Administrative retirements offer the district an opportunity to save funds by combining positions, while also being more “effective in terms of the delivery of curriculum,” Pedisich said.

With the retirement of the high school chair of foreign languages, a new position that oversees foreign language and English as a New Language is being created districtwide for kindergarten through 12th grade. Similarly, the retirement of the assistant director of health and physical education, who oversaw high school programs, will result in a coordinating chair of physical education and health for elementary grades and one for all secondary grades. The district will not replace the administrator retiring from the child nutrition program, Pedisich said.

In other changes, Ward Melville High School principal, Alan Baum, will move to the North Country administrative building to become Executive Director of Secondary Curriculum and Human Resources. William Bernhard, principal at P.J. Gelinas Junior High, will become the new high school principal.

Two trustees up for vote

Besides the budget, residents will also vote for school board trustees. School board president William Connors and trustee Deanna Bavlnka are running unopposed to hold their seats.

Connors, the father of three Ward Melville High School graduates, is running for his third term since being elected in 2012. He previously served on the board from 1994-2006 and said during a recent interview that his time on the board has taught him that the community will support a “reasonable” budget, sometimes at “great financial sacrifice.”

Deanna Bavlnka, elected for the first time in 2011, is running unopposed for her seat on the Three Village school board. Photo from candidate

“We have excellent programs and services, and the community has supported us in those efforts,” said Connors, who retired from his position as associate vice president of academic affairs and college dean of faculty at Suffolk Community College in 2011.

He noted that the district offers first-rate programs, catering to all students, at all grade and academic levels, and now that also includes pre-kindergarteners. The next step, he said, is adding more vocational courses to address the needs of students whose next stop may not be college.

Connors said he takes his role as board president seriously.

“I try to present a public voice of the board,” he said. “I try to represent the board of education and what we stand for and advocate for the district.”

Fellow trustee and Ward Melville graduate Bavlnka also is proud of the district’s free prekindergarten program offered at Nassakeag Elementary School.

Director of human resources at P.W. Grosser Consulting, Bavlnka listed among the district’s recent accomplishments the elementary STEM program, establishment of writing and math centers at the secondary schools and the one-to-one device program currently in its first year at the district’s junior highs.

Bavlnka was elected for the first time in 2011, and like Connors, notes the challenge of sustaining quality programs while remaining fiscally responsible.

“As a board trustee, we represent the entire school community,” she said in an email.  Bavlnka added that the board accepts accountability for clearly representing the community “both from an educational and budgetary perspective.”

The vote for the Three Village school budget and board trustees will take place May 15, from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.  Residents zoned for Arrowhead, Minnesauke and Nassakeag elementary schools will vote at Ward Melville High School. Those zoned for Setauket Elementary will vote at P.J. Gelinas Junior High, and residents in W.S. Mount Elementary zoning will vote at R.C. Murphy Junior High.

Budget stays within 1.97 percent cap

With declining enrollment at Three Village elementary schools like Setauket School, above, the district plans to maintain a low student-teacher ratio and introduce a third-grade orchestra. File photo

The Three Village Central School District Board of Education has adopted a $209.8 million budget for the 2018-19 school year.

Among its proposals are additional resources for student mental health and counseling services, athletic training and elementary science.

Jeff Carlson, assistant superintendent for business services, who outlined the budget at the April 12 meeting, said it will stay within the 1.97 percent cap on the tax levy increase. There will also be no cuts for budgetary reasons, he said.

Jeff Carlson laid out the 2018-2019 school budget at the April 12 board of education meeting. File photo

As far as revenue, New York State will give the district an additional $833,579 in state aid, for a total of $34.4 million, Carlson said. The amount does not include building aid, which is tied to specific capital improvements and varies from year to year, he said.

The assistant superintendent said the budget is based on a combination of declining enrollment, staffing changes, student interest in courses across the secondary level and administrative restructuring. The result is easing the way for the proposed enhancements, he said.

Big changes will happen at the secondary schools, where enrollment in some courses will result in a reduction of two to three full-time equivalent positions, Carlson said. The district will therefore be able to add one FTE for another guidance counselor at Ward Melville High School and a .5 FTE for a psychometrician — a psychologist to conduct testing throughout the district. District Superintendent Cheryl Pedisich said the addition will give school psychologists more availability to counsel students, a decision motivated, in part, by the tragic events in Parkland, Florida.

“We believe that as part of our safety and security procedures and protocol, the need for clinical staff — and a robust staff — is critical to our efforts,” Pedisich said at the March 28 board meeting.

Also, with an eye toward student safety, the administration plans to add an assistant athletic trainer to increase coverage at the district’s athletic events, she said. For greater accountability, the budget includes a transition coordinator to help special needs students transition to the workforce or to the next stage after high school, Pedisich said. This addition will come at a nominal cost, since the district had previously contracted out the position, she said.

The retirement of two administrators — the high school chair of foreign languages and the assistant director of health and physical education— will result in the reduction of two to three FTEs, allowing the district to combine certain positions to be more “effective in terms of the delivery of curriculum,” the superintendent said. One new position will be a district-wide director of foreign language and English as a New Language for kindergarten through 12. Rather than having separate administrators for health and physical education for grades seven through nine and then for 10 through 12, there will be one coordinating chair of physical education and health for all secondary grades and another for kindergarten through sixth grade, she said.

“We believe that as part of our safety and security procedures and protocol, the need for clinical staff — and a robust staff — is critical to our efforts.”

— Cheryl Pedisich

The district will also restore one FTE of clerical help for junior high media specialists and one FTE for a maintenance specialist to increase cost efficiency, Pedisich said.

Similarly, declining enrollment at the elementary level will help the district to maintain a low student-teacher ratio, while also introducing third-grade orchestra at no additional cost to the district.

With the continued decline in elementary school enrollment — between 120 and 130 students next year — there will be two to three fewer sections to staff and a possible decrease of two FTEs, Pedisich said. That will allow the district to add three teaching assistants plus an additional .5 FTE from junior high science staffing — again, due to lower enrollment — to help prepare for the 2020 implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards, Pedisich said. Two more teaching assistants will come from existing staffing.

The Three Village free preschool program at Nassakeag Elementary School will continue into its second year. By the end of March, there were already 128 children enrolled, up from 109 this school year. The district can accommodate up to 200 students and has budgeted up to five FTEs for teachers should the program reach capacity.

Carlson said there will be an increase in the district’s contributions to the employee and teacher retirement systems. To cover the $1.5 million increase, the district will use funds from its reserves, which, he said, are set aside to cover employee retirement costs.

The vote to approve the budget will be held May 15, from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Like last year, for security reasons, the vote will take place at the secondary schools. Those zoned for Arrowhead, Minnesauke and Nassakeag elementary schools will vote at Ward Melville High School, while residents zoned for Mount Elementary School will vote at Murphy Junior High. Families zoned for Setauket Elementary will vote at Gelinas Junior High.

Social

9,187FansLike
1,111FollowersFollow
33SubscribersSubscribe