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Middle Country School Distrtict

Centereach High School junior Keegan Klein's selected artwork. Photo courtesy MCCSD

Centereach High School is proud to announce that junior Keegan Klein’s artwork has been selected to be featured in the prestigious Long Island’s Best Young Artists Exhibit at The Heckscher Museum of Art in Huntington. 

Centereach High School junior Keegan Klein with his selected artwork.
Photo courtesy MCCSD

The exhibit will be on display from March 23 to May 5, showcasing the talent and creativity of young artists from across Long Island.

“Keegan’s art being selected for the Long Island Best Young Artists exhibit is a true testament to his talent and dedication,” said Shelby Petruzzo, Centereach High School’s art teacher. “His creativity and passion have truly shone through in his work, and I am excited to see where his artistic journey takes him next.”

Klein’s artwork was chosen from over 450 submissions from high schools all over Long Island. Of all the submissions, only 87 works were selected to be a part of this esteemed exhibit, making Klein’s achievement even more remarkable.

The Long Island’s Best Young Artists Exhibit at The Heckscher Museum celebrates the artistic talent and dedication of young artists in the region. Klein’s selection is a testament to his skill, vision and hard work as a budding artist.

For more information regarding the Middle Country Central School District and its students’ achievements, visit the district’s website at www.mccsd.net.

File photo

By Emma Gutmann

As of a January report from the New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli (D), Middle Country Central School District has dipped into the “susceptible” fiscal stress status. The district’s community letter on Feb. 1 stated that reserves are “close to being exhausted” and the budget gap is around $7.5 million.

The comptroller’s Fiscal Stress Monitoring System uses data submitted by local governments to provide every school district in New York with a fiscal and environmental score out of 100. Financial indicators for school districts consist of cash position, year-end fund balance, operating deficits and surpluses, as well as reliance on short-term debt for cash flow. Environmental indicators are forces beyond local officials’ immediate control, including teacher turnover rate, changes in property values, budget vote approval rate and percent of economically disadvantaged students and English language learners. 

A district’s overall score determines whether it has the label Significant Stress, Moderate Stress, Susceptible to Stress or No Designation. Middle Country’s 2022-23 fiscal year scored 25 points, the minimum value in the Susceptible to Stress range. Four other Long Island school systems joined Middle Country on the fiscal stress spectrum, with New Suffolk and Amityville in the most extreme category and Roosevelt and Springs in the mildest warning stage alongside Middle Country.

Instructional expenses continue to contribute to Middle Country’s budget overflow as the district strives to maintain excellence for students and staff under the financial strain. The district anticipates a need for two or three more PRAISE classes, where each accommodates eight special-needs kindergarteners. These valuable and necessary specialized classes come with a jarring expense, costing around $350,000 each according to Superintendent of Schools Roberta Gerold.

In an interview, Gerold noted that the pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on the student body, who could use support for their anomalous learning and mental health needs. In the vein of wellness, a boost in health care for current employees (plus 10%) and retirees (plus 25%) has been another cost driver. 

“We are a state-aid-dependent school district, which means when state aid is reduced, we feel the impact — and don’t have many alternatives other than raise taxes or cut programs or services,” Gerold said. “This year, Gov. Hochul’s [D] budget proposal cuts state aid. In Middle Country, if we were to receive what current law indicated we should, our state aid would be about $1.4 million more than what we are now supposed to receive.”

Middle Country has been lobbying to receive a larger slice of state aid with the support of local elected officials and working on a plan for financial recovery with the guidance of their administrative colleagues. The proposed state aid for 2024-25 is nearly $120 million, an increase of 4.64%.

Gerold reported that the school was able to offer programs with resources for their students’ evolving needs through federal funding — a pool which will expire in September of this year.

Although Middle Country has done its best to budget and ration its reserves, “the next couple of months are going to be difficult as decisions are finalized and implemented,” the district’s letter said. 

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Newfield senior Mohab Ali captures his 100th career victory Jan. 29. Photo by Sophia Vitale

It was history in the making when Newfield senior and star wrestler Mohab Ali defeated Sachem East’s Luis Valdez Jan. 29 with an 8-2 decision to notch his 100th victory at 195 lbs. Ali’s current season record is 31-2 and his varsity career stands at 100-36. What makes the milestone all that more remarkable is Ali’s freshman year record was 3-21, according to Newfield Head Coach Douglas Lotten.

Senior Hunter Hughes who also won Jan. 29 at 152 pounds tied the Middle Country School District all-time career record at 132 wins. Both wrestlers are ranked number 1 in Suffolk county in their respective weight class. At the state level, Hughes is ranked 5th and Ali is 7th.