Tags Posts tagged with "Nassakeag Elementary School"

Nassakeag Elementary School

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Students work to put together a flower order in the pre-K classroom’s flower shop play area, set up in time for Valentine’s Day. Photo by Andrea Paldy

By Andrea Paldy

Big changes are ahead for Three Village’s free prekindergarten program, currently housed at Nassakeag Elementary School.

At an information session Jan. 9, administrators unveiled their plan to expand the pre-K program and to offer a new, tuition-based enrichment program at each of the district’s five elementary schools.

Parents bring their children to the special entrance designated for the prekindergarten program at Nassakeag. Photo by Andrea Paldy

Though current pre-K students are grouped by “home” school at Nassakeag, the district has announced that it will expand the program to its other four buildings in order to “provide a smoother transition to elementary school.” The rationale is that it will allow students to attend classes at the same place where they will eventually be in elementary school.

Additionally, the move would prevent congestion at Nassakeag, since the district anticipates the growing program to require the use of up to 10 classrooms. The other buildings can easily accommodate the preschool program either in their kindergarten wings or nearby, according to school officials.

“We are committed to providing a high-quality pre-K program that provides students with a strong foundation for academic and social success,” said Superintendent Cheryl Pedisich in an email.

With the expansion to the other elementary buildings, next year’s program will continue to run as it currently does. Each school will have a morning and afternoon session that lasts for two and a half hours, and each classroom will have a certified teacher and assistant and up to 20 students.

Sessions at Minnesauke Elementary and Nassakeag will run from 8 to 10:30 a.m. and noon to 2:30 p.m., while those at Arrowhead, Mount and Setauket elementary schools will be held from 8:45 to 11:15 a.m. and 12:45 to 3:15 p.m. As with the current pre-K program, students will have access to a special age-appropriate preschool playground. The district says pre-K playgrounds will be built to accommodate the program expansion at the four additional elementary schools.

“We are committed to providing a high-quality pre-K program that provides students with a strong foundation for academic and social success.”

— Cheryl Pedisich

The district is also launching a tuition-based Patriots Plus Pre-K program. Staffed by a certified teaching assistant and a classroom aide, this extended day will offer enrichment in STEM, art, music and movement. Each school will run a morning and an afternoon session for 20 students and will include lunch in the cafeteria (with the option to purchase a meal) and recess. The district’s website says that tuition will be $500 a month.

The district says that there will be no additional cost to distribute the program to the other schools, since staffing for the pre-K curriculum is already covered. Administrators expect the cost of hiring five new teaching assistants and five aides for the enrichment program to be covered by tuition from the Patriots Plus program so that it is self-sustaining. Each enrichment section will need at least 10 students, the district says.

Administrators say parents with older elementary students will have a built-in window — 15 minutes before arrival and 15 minutes after dismissal — to drop off or pick up their prekindergartener and be back at the bus stop in time for older children.

Following feedback from last week’s information session, the district moved up the enrollment period to make it easier for parents to plan for the coming year. Applications will be accepted through Feb. 26. Students must turn 4 by Dec. 1, 2019, to be eligible.

Each school has a 40-student cap with a district cap of 200 students. If the number of applications exceeds the caps, there will be a lottery. Administrators say that students who aren’t selected through the lottery at their home school may attend the program at a different building, if there is room.

Three Village first offered a pre-K program in 2015, when it partnered with SCOPE Education Services to run and staff a fee-based curriculum. The district rolled out a free pre-K, taught by Three Village teachers, in the fall of 2017.

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Children play in the playground at Nassakeag Elementary School. File photo

It may only be February, but the Three Village Central School District has already announced plans for the upcoming year’s program for its youngest learners.

At a recent meeting, the school board received both an update on the inaugural year of the district’s prekindergarten and plans for the program during the 2018-2019 school year. The presentation, delivered by Nassakeag Elementary School assistant principal and prekindergarten coordinator Nancy Pickford, covered the curriculum and other highlights of the free prekindergarten program.   

“The pre-K has brought an element of wonder and excitement to Nassakeag, and the entire building has embraced our youngest students.”

—Nancy Pickford

The prekindergarten, which is located at Nassakeag Elementary School, “supports students’ cognitive and social and emotional learning” and includes foundational language, math and technological skills features, Pickford said.

The curriculum, which is designed by Three Village educators, is age-appropriate, meets New York State standards and prepares students for kindergarten in the Three Village district, Pickford said. Learning is play-based, and students benefit from individual, small and large group instruction and activities.

Pickford also explained that students are placed in classes according to the elementary school they will attend for kindergarten, ensuring that they can begin to establish friendships as they continue in the district. She also noted that the prekindergarten program provides an opportunity for educators to evaluate students and identify the need for early intervention services.

While the preschool has a separate entrance with a security guard and its own playground, prekindergarten students have access to the school’s library, mini-gym and school nurse. They also participate in cultural arts programs, school-wide musical performances and PTA-sponsored events at Nassakeag. Class buddies from the elementary grades also read to prekindergarteners and do projects with them, Pickford said.

“The pre-K has brought an element of wonder and excitement to Nassakeag, and the entire building has embraced our youngest students,” she said

Parents receive midyear and end-of-year progress reports and attend parent-teacher conferences. Responses to parent surveys have been overwhelmingly positive and indicate that families are pleased with the program, Pickford said. Administrators, though, will track the students through kindergarten to gauge the effectiveness of the program, she said. Looking ahead, the district plans to install a grant-funded, outdoor classroom.

With current enrollment at 109 students, classes range in size from 15 to 18 students and are each led by a New York State-certified teacher and an assistant. There are currently seven half-day sections which meet from 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and noon to 2:30 p.m. Start and end times are staggered to avoid congestion with the arrivals and departures of the elementary school students, Pickford said. 

Enrollment for the new year begins on Feb. 26. Pickford, who anticipates an enrollment increase, said that if the number goes above the 200-student cap, there will be a lottery for spots.

Under sunny skies, children filed off buses at Setauket Elementary School Sept. 5 ready to start a new school year. Many children could be seen smiling as they greeted friends and teachers they hadn’t seen all summer, and a few younger students were teary-eyed as they took in their new surroundings.

The air of excitement extended throughout the Three Village Central School District as students anticipated embarking on new adventures.

“I’m looking forward to seeing all my friends who I didn’t see over the summer, and meeting my new teacher,” said Jordyn Zezelic, a fifth-grader at Nassakeag Elementary School.

Allie Konsevitch, a seventh-grader at R.C. Murphy Junior High School, said she was happy about starting her first year at the intermediate school and changing classes.

Sophia Kornreich, an eighth-grader at Murphy who tested out of Spanish I, said she was looking forward to the challenge of Spanish II.

“I love Murphy because something about the building is very warm, and it feels like one really big family,” Sophia said.

Her sister Athena, who goes to Nassakeag, said she was excited about starting sixth grade, meeting her new teacher Ms. Safranek and taking part in upcoming activities.

“I’m very eager for the Halloween dance, car wash, buddies [program] and graduation,” Athena said. “I am thrilled to move on to sixth grade.”

A week before the beginning of the school year, the district conducted orientation programs for incoming seventh- and 10th-grade students of Ward Melville High School and R.C. Murphy and P.J. Gelinas junior high schools. Students were able to ask questions of administration members and upperclassmen were in attendance to help new students locate their lockers and classrooms.

Rachael Catalano, a sophomore at Ward Melville, said she is excited about “making many new friends and seeing the multiple opportunities that the high school has to offer to get involved in.”

A free prekindergarten class will replace SCOPE preschool at Nassakeag Elementary School. File photo

By Andrea Paldy

In the not-so-distant past, budget season meant looking for places to trim. Now, as the Three Village school district looks ahead to the 2017-18 school year, it actually is making plans to add new programs.

Though the current projected increase in state aid, according to the governor’s proposal, is very small — $247,000 — Three Village will not need to cut programs to stay within the 3.40 percent cap on the tax levy increase, Jeffrey Carlson, the assistant superintendent of business services, said.

2017-18 Budget Facts

  • 3.40 percent tax levy increase cap
  • $247,000 in additional state aid
  • Additions include junior high math centers, drug alcohol counselor, free pre-k
  • 7th through 9th graders will receive notebook computers to use at home and at school

Junior high math centers and a certified drug and alcohol counselor are among the additions for the new school year, along with a free district-run prekindergarten that will replace the current SCOPE preschool at Nassakeag Elementary School.

However, not everyone is on board with the preschool. Three Village resident and parent Christine Segnini said during last week’s school board meeting that she was perplexed by the district’s decision to use “taxpayer money to support a non-mandated grade like pre-K.”

“We are not a district of low socio-economic status,” Segnini said. “We are not a district having our incoming kindergarteners ill-prepared and lacking in preschool experience. I fear that this high-ticket, non-state mandated item will indeed sink your budget.”

Superintendent Cheryl Pedisich said that though preschool is not currently mandated, she could see both kindergarten and prekindergarten being mandated in the future. She also added that there are students in the district who enter kindergarten without preschool.

“We are hopeful that we will be able to catch those children and bring them in so that they will have a level playing field and opportunity to get the early intervention that is critical for them to be successful,” Pedisich said.

While the administration has budgeted for five preschool teachers — three would be reassigned from the elementary level due to declining enrollment and two would be hired — the district would only need all five teachers if the program hits capacity at 200 students. With only 53 students signed up so far, Pedisich does not anticipate the need for a lottery. Each teacher will instruct a morning session and an afternoon session with 20 students per class.

The decision to hire a certified drug and alcohol counselor was made to address an “issue of highest importance,” the superintendent said.

“We are not a district having our incoming kindergarteners ill-prepared and lacking in preschool experience. I fear that this high-ticket, non-state mandated item will indeed sink your budget.”

—Christine Segnini

“I’m not going to be one of the superintendents that says we don’t have a drug problem in Three Village,” she said, noting that drugs are a problem across the country.

The district will be prepared to offer help to students and their families, even providing services in the home, if necessary, Pedisich said.

The only addition to the administrative staff will be a supervisor of technology and information systems, Pedisich said. With the $3.4 million in Smart Schools Bond Act money that has been awarded to Three Village, the district will introduce one-to-one devices in the junior highs. It means that students in grades 7 through 9 will receive their own notebook computers to use at home and at school. The new technology supervisor will oversee the pilot program, which would eventually expand to the high school, Pedisich said.

Including the possible two new preschool teachers, the district could add a total of 3.05 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions at the elementary level for the coming year. Art would decrease by .15 because of declining enrollment, but .1 FTE would be added to both physical education and health. One FTE will be added for special education, based on individualized education program (IEP) enrollment. Fourth grade chorus will be added, but without an increase of staff,  Pedisich said.

The secondary schools will see a net increase of 1.15 full-time equivalent positions to cover a new math center during lunch, daily band and orchestra at the junior highs. New electives such as public speaking and local history will be introduced at the junior highs. The high school math department will introduce differential equations to follow multivariable calculus, which students take after completing AP calculus.

The budget vote will be on May 16, from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. For security reasons, all voting will take place at the secondary schools, Carlson said. Since state election law prohibits screening, it is easier to keep voters contained to polling areas at the secondary schools, he said.

Residents who usually vote at W.S. Mount Elementary School will vote at R.C. Murphy Junior High. Those zoned for Arrowhead, Minnesauke and Nassakeag elementary schools will vote at Ward Melville High School. Setauket Elementary School voters will vote at P.J. Gelinas Junior High.

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Children play in the prekindergarten playground at Nassakeag Elementary School. File photo

By Andrea Moore Paldy

After a heartfelt send-off of its high school graduates, Three Village school district prepares to welcome its newest and youngest students to prekindergarten at Nassakeag Elementary School.

SCOPE at Three Village Prekindergarten will expand to welcome three-year-olds this fall and make some tweaks to the district’s fledgling program.

The new three-year-old program, offered for the first time in September, will meet three days a week for 2.5 hours. It will cost $215 a month.

Kristin Rimmer, formerly Nassakeag’s assistant principal and preschool liaison for the tuition-based program, told the school board that parents and children have responded positively to the program for four-years-olds.

She said parents surveyed said they would recommend the program or send their younger children.

The collaboration between Three Village and SCOPE Education Services offers a “play-based” curriculum that “supports students’ cognitive, social and emotional learning” and helps prepare them for kindergarten in the district, Rimmer said.

Each class is led by a state-certified teacher and assistant, and incorporates New York State’s Prekindergarten Foundation for the Common Core.

Students are introduced to “Fundations” — the phonics programs used in Three Village — guided reading, and foundational math and technology skills, Rimmer said. SCOPE Education Services, which runs both universal (free) and fee-based prekindergartens across the island, staffs and runs the day-to-day operation.

A majority of the 32 students enrolled in the first year attended the half-day classes. The price of a full-day — $1,100 a month — was a deterrent for families, Rimmer said.

So, in the coming year, there will only be half-day classes. Eliminating the full-day option will lower tuition because the program will no longer have to cover the pricey full-day certification fee that is paid to the state Office of Children and Family Services.

The cost for a four-year-old to attend five days for 2.5 hours a day will be reduced to $300 instead of $400 a month.

The new three-year-old program, offered for the first time in September, will meet three days a week for 2.5 hours. It will cost $215 a month.

The three-year-old program, Rimmer said, will be similar to the four-year-old program in its approach and will prepare students for the four-year-old class.

Rimmer said another area that will see improvements is pickup and drop off, which some parents felt was a missed opportunity for parents to connect with teachers.

Rimmer commented, “I am optimistic that the changes we are proposing will make prekindergarten more accessible to all, while continuing to reach the level of programmatic success we achieved this year,” she said.