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School

Elwood-John H. Glenn High School’s Class of 2024 graduates celebrated their commencement ceremony on June 28. Photo courtesy of Elwood School District

Earl L. Vandermeulen High School proudly celebrated the graduation of its Class of 2024, in a poignant ceremony.

This milestone event marked the students’ culmination of years of hard work, dedication and academic achievement.

Amidst a backdrop of cheers, applause and heartfelt speeches, the graduates of Earl L. Vandermeulen High School bid farewell to their alma mater, and embarked on the next chapter of their lives. The ceremony was attended by proud parents, family members, faculty and distinguished guests.

Superintendent Jessica Schmettan, and High School Principal, John Ruggero, delivered a heartfelt address to the graduating seniors.

As the evening concluded with the traditional tossing of caps, the atmosphere was filled with a sense of optimism and excitement for the bright futures that lie ahead for the Earl L. Vandermeulen High School students.

For more information regarding the Port Jefferson School District, and its students’ many achievements, please visit the District’s website at https://www.portjeffschools.org, and follow our Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/PortJeffSchools.

Port Jefferson made waves this prom season with an extraordinary event — one that just may redefine high school celebrations across Long Island.

This year’s Earl L. Vandermeulen High School prom, themed “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” and held Monday, July 1, was not just an event, but a testament to the creativity, dedication and community spirit of Port Jefferson.

Transforming the high school gymnasium into a magical undersea kingdom, the prom committee created an immersive experience for its peers. With vignettes, professional and theatrical-level lighting and stage constructions, Port Jefferson high school’s prom theme transported students to an enchanting world beneath the waves. As the seniors entered the festivities, they walked a red carpet and were given star-level treatment.

The school’s prom has long been anticipated as a highlight of the academic year, showcasing the talent and dedication of Port Jefferson’s community members. This school set a new standard for high school celebrations, not only in terms of creativity and design but also in fostering a sense of pride and camaraderie among students and residents alike.

For more information regarding the Port Jefferson School District and its students’ many achievements, please visit the district’s website, www.portjeffschools.org, and follow its Facebook page. 

Pixabay photo.
Three Village 

Budget vote: 

Yes: 2,140
No: 1,140 

Board of education election: elect three, third highest gets one-year term.

Shaorui Li – 1,976

Susan Rosenzweig – 1,970

Stanley Bak – 1,688

Amitava Das – 1,683

 

Port Jefferson 

Budget vote:

Yes: 640

No: 148

Trustee election: To elect three board of education trustees for a three-year term, July 1, to June 30, 2027. 

Tracy Zamek – 598

Traci Donnelly – 574

Michael Weaver – 563

 

Comsewogue 

Budget vote:

Yes: 540

No:  204

Trustee election. Incumbents ran unopposed:

Margaret Mitchell – 593

Richard Rennard – 543

Corey Prinz – 508             

 

Shoreham-Wading River

Budget vote:

Yes: 526

No:  125

 Board of education election, vote for two:

Jim Lauckhardt – 537

James Smith – 487

 

Miller Place 

Budget vote: 

Yes: 565

No:  170

Board of education trustee election, elect one:
Bryan Makarius – 584 
Votes for other candidates –  43     

 

Rocky Point        

Budget vote:

Yes: 846 

No:  289 

Board trustee election, vote for two: 

Michael Lisa – 599 

Stacey Lasurdo – 482

Elizabeth Diesa – 367

Shelita Watkis – 361                

Michael Sanchez – 289

Capital Reserve Fund vote:

Yes: 919 

No:  217  

Hallock Homestead Museum vote:

Yes:  787

No:   352

 

Mount Sinai 

Budget vote:

Yes: 802

No:  212

The terms are three years. Vote for two, elected at-large. 

Paul Staudt (incumbent) and Joseph Randazzo ran unopposed 

 

Hauppauge 

Budget vote:

Yes: 584

No:  278 

Board of education, two terms (three years): 

Catherine Collins – 583

Brian Michels – 574

 

Kings Park

Budget vote:

Yes: 1,046

No:     533

Board of education election: 

Kevin Johnston (incumbent) and James Lovastik ran unopposed

 

Smithtown

Budget vote:

Yes: 4,569

No:  1,722

Board of education, vote for two:

Dana Fritch (3,614) defeated Stacy Murphy (2,664) (incumbent)

Emily Cianci (3,605) defeated Karen Wontrobski-Ricciardi (incumbent) (2,669)

 

Commack

Budget vote:

Yes: 1,701

No: 400

Board of education, vote for one:

Dana Schultz – 1,047

Gus Hueber – 997

 

Middle Country 

Budget vote:

Yes: 1,578 

No: 569

Board of education, vote for three: 

John DeBenedetto – 1,568

Denise Haggerty – 1,531

Arlene Barresi – 1,501

 

Harborfields 

Budget vote:

Yes: 1,227 

No: 279 

2015 Capital Reserve Fund:

Yes: 1,217 

No:     254

Board of education’s three open seats, currently held by incumbents Susan Broderick, Eve Meltzer-Krief and Suzie Lustig (not seeking reelection):

Susan Broderick – 1,124 

Rachael Risinger – 1,053 

Eve Meltzer-Krief – 1,044

David Balistreri – 396 

Freda Manuel – 316 

 

Elwood 

Budget vote:

Yes: 652 

No:  287

To expend $500,000 in capital reserve for districtwide security enhancements and purchase of district wide maintenance and grounds vehicles.

Yes: 714

No:  213

For the board of education’s two open seats, currently held by incumbent members James Tomeo and Heather Mammolito (not seeking reelection):

James Tomeo – 717 

Walter Edwards – 620

 

Cold Spring Harbor 

Budget vote: 

Yes: 657                            

No: 186                            

Board trustees, two elected at large:

Heather Morante Young (incumbent) – 555

Mark Attalienti – 484

Scott Kaufman – 414

 

Northport-East Northport 

Budget vote:

Yes: 2,202

No:  1,536

Board of education election:

Terms are three years. Voters select two candidates among four who are running: 

Carol Taylor (incumbent) – 1,984

Michael Cleary – 1,860

Paul Darrigo – 1,601

Victoria Bento – 1,328

 

Huntington

Budget vote:

Yes: 1,059         

No:     206

Board of education, vote for three:

Theresa Sullivan (incumbent) – 882

Thomas Galvin (incumbent) – 856 

Annie Michaelian – 812

Sara Baliber – 656

Earl L. Vandermeulen High School. File photo by Elana Glowatz

The Port Jefferson School District Board of Education held its first meeting of 2024 on the evening of Tuesday, Jan. 9. Though the meeting was relatively brief, the evening highlighted positive student engagement as well as things to look forward to in the coming new year. 

The spotlight illuminated the commendable work of the student government at Edna Louise Spear Elementary, focusing on the active involvement of students in grades three to five. The election process, involving students delivering persuasive speeches to their peers, results in the selection of two representatives from each class.

Crafted by the students themselves, the student government’s mission statement defines their purpose — to contribute positively to the school, town and global communities, emphasizing the significance of kindness and support. The integral role played by advisers Michele Smith and Dana St. Pierre in guiding and shaping the student government’s initiatives was highlighted during the meeting, underscoring the collaborative effort that drives the success of these endeavors.

The student government’s diverse activities include fundraisers and events meant to foster unity within the school. Notable among these are the highly anticipated movie nights, a recurring event attended by students in grades three through five. The representatives take charge of the event, managing everything from snack distribution to movie selection, creating an enjoyable experience for students and parents alike.

Fundraising initiatives were given special attention during the meeting, showcasing themed dress days and contributions to various charitable organizations. Local charities such as Island Harvest and the Infant Jesus food pantry were beneficiaries of the student government’s active support. Moreover, their commitment to positive change extended globally, with initiatives supporting UNICEF and earthquake victims in Turkey and Syria.

Furthermore, the meeting shed light on the student government’s pivotal role in organizing schoolwide events that promote unity and school spirit. Flag Day, planned and executed by student government representatives, features performances by the school orchestra, band and chorus. Another noteworthy project is the Kindness Rocks initiative, where students aim to deliver kindness rocks throughout the community, spreading positive messages and goodwill.

The meeting also covered details about the upcoming New York State science exam, which will be administered to students in grades five and eight. Notably, this year’s exams will be computer-based, representing a shift in the assessment format. Additionally, the discussion touched upon the NYS Blue Ribbon Commission’s recommendations from 2019. The commission proposed 12 recommendations, categorized into areas such as the number of diplomas, credit and program requirements, assessment alternatives and modifications to graduation requirements for non compulsory students. The proposed changes aim to enhance education and better align with evolving academic needs.

From the floor, resident Gail Sternberg expressed concerns on the implications of the projected high school falling enrollment numbers, but no response was forthcoming from the board.

The highly anticipated bleacher project at Earl L. Vandermeulen High School began construction Dec. 20. Starting with upgrades to the press box, the work will include demolition and reframing of the front door, adding a viewing window in the front, reconstruction of the ladder for access from the back, as well as much more. The board also assessed that tree removal for the middle school retaining wall project is set to commence in the spring, and neighbors in the area will be notified when a definitive timeline for the project is determined.

From left, Shoreham-Wading River High School’s student government adviser Maryanne Agius, students Everett McClintock, Harrison Zeller, David Formisano, Shawn Engman, Sophia Minnion, Aliana Kurz and Ashley Militz and adviser Brittany Davis. Photo courtesy of the Shoreham-Wading River Central School District

Members of Shoreham-Wading River High School’s student government shared their ongoing efforts at a recent board of education meeting. The students work year-round with advisers Maryanne Agius and Brittany Davis to represent, advocate and empower their peers through creative ideas, leadership and resources to unify and enhance the high school community.

Students Shawn Engman, David Formisano, Aliana Kurz, Everett McClintock, Ashley Militz, Sophia Minnion and Harrison Zeller shared highlights and video clips from the to-date elections, Homecoming theme and floats, dances, fall pep rally, spirit days and fundraisers.

Board of education president, Thomas Sheridan, commended the advisers and student leaders for the school spirit and camaraderie they help to create throughout the high school and community. 

Parents gathered at an ‘Unmask Our Kids’ rally last week in Hauppauge. Photo by Kim Brown

The last week has been really confusing surrounding children wearing masks in schools and during recess.

With under three weeks left of classes, parents across Long Island have been rallying outside the county offices, demanding that Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) ends the mask mandates for little ones. 

But it became political, fast. 

We agree: Masks are annoying, and we can only imagine how it’s impacting children in schools emotionally and physically. The weather has been hot — field days and outdoor sports have been starting back up in high and humid temperatures. But public health is still a top priority. It should not be political. 

And while U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY1) and Andrew Giuliani (R) held the same exact rally, in the same exact spot just a week apart, something must have worked because Cuomo announced a change in the state mandate two days after Zeldin’s gathering. 

But then that changed because the state Department of Health said it isn’t time for kids to be maskless inside yet — outside they can.

Parents were confused, upset — and rightfully so. Districts had to send out letters every other day updating what was allowed and what was not allowed. 

We’re all very tired. We want this to end. What we don’t want, though, is for things to happen prematurely. Is it better for the kids to spend the next few days with a mask on and then its summer break? Remember only people over 12 can be vaccinated, leaving many students in schools unvaccinated either because of age or their family’s choice.

In this case we think patience is a virtue. It’s not completely over yet. Be safe and be smart.

From left, Frank Franzese, Dr. Don Heberer and David Rebori are Comsewogue’s tech team responsible for transitioning the school into online/hybrid learning. Photo from Heberer

Sometimes it takes a village – sometimes it takes a whole district.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, workers in North Shore school districts had to buckle down and create a new game plan from early on. March saw the closure of schools and the introduction of distance learning. September brought a return to in-person, but a host of new issues.

With constantly changing guidelines, they had to reconstruct their plans. Superintendents had to lead their districts to continue learning and to keep their students safe, while teachers, librarians, custodians, librarians and so many more worked and sacrificed to do the best they could, often exceeding what was expected. 

Gerard Poole, superintendent of Shoreham-Wading River school district, said it was a collaborative effort. 

Superintendent Gerard Poole. Photo from SWR school district

“So much had to happen for all of this had to be in place for the start of the school year,” he said. “Administrators who didn’t take any time off this summer, to teachers who had to move around classrooms. There were a lot of things that had to be done.”

One of those things that were applauded by community members was the reopening of the vacant Briarcliff Elementary School in Shoreham, which helped increase social distancing and lower the class sizes.  Poole said that in June, after they learned the 6-foot requirement between students and their desks was going to be in place, by opening up the formerly closed school they could have every student in five days a week.

But the superintendent stressed they couldn’t have done it alone. The school board was instrumental in making this happen, maintenance workers helped move supplies and nurses were there early on ready to work. 

“It was an easy academic decision to make, but equally as important socially and emotionally,” he said. “This year seems now like a major win.” 

And while SWR had to implement a plan to reopen a closed school, Cheryl Pedisich, superintendent of Three Village school district, said early in the spring the district formed a committee that would look at the narrative, and implement a school opening plan with the ultimate goal to go back to school, as normal, five days a week.  

“The issue of health and safety was most important,” she said. 

Pedisich said they initially developed a hybrid model, but the more she and her colleagues discussed it, they became concerned of the lack of continuity, also the mental, emotional and social impacts being on a screen would have on students. 

Superintendent Cheryl Pedisich. Photo from Three Village Central School District

“We wanted to bring our students back to school,” she said. “What we experienced during the spring were a lot of students’ mental health [issues]. The children felt very isolated — it was hard to connect. There was a lot of frustration in terms in the remote learning.”

By creating an education plan early on that opened the school up to five days a week head on, the district was able to hire more staff, and prepare for socially distanced learning. 

“Even though they’re wearing masks, they’re happy to be there,” Pedisich said. “We’ve had cases like anyone else, but no more cases than districts that went hybrid.”

And schools that run independently also had to figure out how to cope with these unprecedented times, including Sunshine Prevention Center in Port Jefferson Station, a nonprofit that offers an alternative education program. The CEO, Carol Carter, said they had to work with staff to handle the change. 

“We provided support to the staff and a strong leadership to the staff, so the teachers felt comfortable,” she said. “Then we did training on it. They had to learn along with us as we’re learning — they’re learning how to run classes online, how to put homework online and how to communicate with the students.”

While their school has a very small staff, they continued to help kids who were struggling at home. 

 “We would try and reach out to students and their families almost daily,” Holly Colomba, an English and science teacher at Sunshine said. “We were trying to check in, whether it’s with their mental health or educationally, just trying to keep in contact with them and let them know we’re still here — and that we were there to help them.”

And technology was huge in every district as the COVID pandemic was navigated. Joe Coniglione, assistant superintendent at Comsewogue School District, said the district wouldn’t be running smoothly without the help and initiative from the technology department.

 “These guys made it possible with going remote and doing hybrid instruction,” he said. “They orchestrated training every teacher in the district and worked around the clock to make sure kids were learning. They went way above and beyond to help us operate in time.”

From left, Frank Franzese, Dr. Don Heberer and David Rebori are Comsewogue’s tech team responsible for transitioning the school into online/hybrid learning. Photo from Heberer

Don Heberer, Comsewogue district administrator for instructional technology, said he remembered the day well. It was March 13 and he was at John F. Kennedy Middle School, scrambling and making sure every student had a device to use at home. They delivered about 300 Chromebooks to families who didn’t have devices. 

“I relied on my staff,” he said.  “And our number one focus was how can we make learning possible.”

Heberer and his colleagues — Jan Condon, David Rebori and Frank Franzese — made sure that communication was getting out to members of the community, students and their families. Teachers were constantly being trained and students were able to access their work online.

“We were in the middle of a crisis,” he said. “We have to remember people are losing their jobs, their lives, their entire livelihood. It’s important to be empathetic to that and doing everything we can to make it a little easier — students, teachers, parents and the community.”

He said they kept people in the loop using the districts app, which has roughly 7,000 people logged in. 

School librarians, too, had to change shape to keep kids reading. 

Monica DiGiovanni, a librarian at Joseph A. Edgar Intermediate School in Rocky Point, said she and her colleagues focused this year on teaching students Sora, a reading app by OverDrive. 

She said that Sora is an electronic version of their library, so kids would still be able to access books and read them on their Chromebooks. 

Along with DiGiovanni, Rocky Point librarians Jessica Sciarrone, Catherine O’Connell and Bettina Tripp have been responsible teaching students how to use the system since the school library cannot be used due to the pandemic. 

Monica DiGiovanni, the school librarian in the Joseph A. Edgar Intermediate School, was instrumental in getting kids e-books during COVID.
Photo from DiGiovanni

“As librarians, we were like, ‘Oh gosh we can’t give them books?’ That was a huge issue,” DiGiovanni said. 

After researching platforms to get them e-books, all four librarians decided to devote most of their library budget to the electronic reads.

“There’s so much that books provide that children get out of it,” DiGiovanni said. “They enjoy going to other places — fantasy worlds — so they can get that now with e-books.”

She said they’re definitely utilizing the service. 

“Some kids prefer them,” she added. “They like to be able to finish a book and go onto something new right away.”

At Port Jefferson high school, the Varsity Club is traditionally a group that inspires a sense of community involvement in student-athletes. Teachers and advisers to the club — Jesse Rosen and Deirdre Filippi — said that what their students usually do to get involved with the community was altered or canceled because of the pandemic. 

“As a result, some new events were created by our students and we found alternate ways of giving back to the community,” Filippi said. “We were especially impressed by the fact that our students saw this phase of their life as an opportunity, rather than an obstacle.”

Along with reading programs paired with the elementary school, Edna Louise Spear,  and hanging of flags on 9/11 and Veterans Day, the club hosted a Halloween trick-or-treat drive-thru event at the elementary school. 

“Oftentimes, when we feel somewhat helpless about our own situations, the best thing we can do is help those around us,” Filippi said. “This event was a perfect representation of our club´s mentality.”

A good part of the community came to the school to experience a unique and safe trick-or-treating experience. 

Students from the Port Jefferson Varsity Club during their drive-thru trick or treat event. Photo from PJ School District

“The idea was simple, the communal impact was overwhelming,” she said. “This speaks to what we try to achieve as educators. Our students recognized an opportunity within our community and they developed and executed a plan perfectly.”

The impact the club and its students made was overwhelming for Rosen and Filippi. 

“As educators, the actions of our students often inspire us,” Filippi said. “It is rewarding to see our students take the initiative and do whatever they can to put a smile on the face of their fellow students and community members.”

METRO photo

By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli

Father Frank Pizzarelli

It’s hard to believe that we are almost at the midpoint of the summer. The pandemic has changed our lives forever. We will never be able to go back to yesterday. However, we have a powerful opportunity to build a better and safer tomorrow.

At this point in our history, it is not a time for impulsiveness and polarization; rather it should be a time for profound reflection and for building new bridges. It is not a time for building walls, but rather a time to look for more creative ways to transcend our differences and to build a stronger foundation on our American values and ideals.

By our silence, we are complicit. More than ever before, we need people to stand up and give voice to reason and to social justice for all. Individually, we need to lead by example. Our failure to do this will cost the loss of innocent lives. Simple things matter like wearing a mask in public, social distancing and washing our hands frequently.

We have painfully learned how fragile all life is and how some simple practices can make the difference.

Unfortunately, our leadership on both sides of the aisle have failed us. The pandemic should not be a political football, but rather an opportunity to come together for the sake of the common good.

It should not matter what political party is leading us when it comes to protecting all Americans. They should be courageous enough to lead us and call for unity; they should be advocating and working for healing; instead of leading the charge for divisiveness and chaos.

Every state in the union is facing the difficult decision of when and how to open our schools. The health of our children, of our teachers and of our administrators is at stake; so is the quality of American education at every level.

We need to act cautiously and deliberately and not be seduced by rhetoric that is not grounded in science and good health practices. The next generation of leadership is at stake.

Regarding our schools, let us trust our leadership, let us encourage creativity and let us think outside the box without compromising quality education. Let us be mindful if we begin with a hybrid system of learning that many of our children will not have access to tablets and the internet and not every parent can supervise at home. It takes a village to raise and educate a child.

It is time to reclaim “we the people” and build a better tomorrow for all Americans no matter their color, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or social status.

Hope does not abandon us. We abandon hope. More than ever before hope needs to become the anthem of our souls!

Fr. Pizzarelli, SMM, LCSW-R, ACSW, DCSW, is the director of Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson.

The Smithtown School District received nearly four times as many votes for this year's school budget compared to last years. File photo

By Odeya Rosenband

School districts across Suffolk County have seen a sizable increase in voter turnout for their 2020-21 budget elections, in comparison with previous years.

2019 Budget Vote Tallies

SWR: 1,458

Rocky Point: 916

Miller Place: 783

Mount Sinai:1,381

Port Jeff: 719

Comsewogue: 812

Middle Country: 2,058

Three Village: 2,087

Smithtown: 2,776

2020 Budget Vote Tallies SWR: 2,947 (+1,458)

Rocky Point: 2,913 (+1,997)

Miller Place: 3,016 (+2,233)

Mount Sinai:2,965 (+1,584)

Port Jeff: 1,387 (+668)

Comsewogue: 3,349 (+2,537)

Middle Country: 7,639 (+5,581)

Three Village: 9231 (+7,244)

Smithtown: 11,071 (+8,293)

Notably, as opposed to in-person, all voting was conducted through a mail-in ballot this year due to the threat of COVID-19. This process made voting more readily accessible to all community members, who have largely been under stay-at-home orders as the county remained in Phase 2 at the time of the elections.

Among North Shore school districts covered by TBR News Media, the Hauppauge school district witnessed the most significant change, receiving nearly five times more voters than they did last year. Like every district, Hauppauge’s budget passed but is expecting possible cuts in state aid later in the year. This anticipation is another factor that helps to explain the increased voter turnout, as this upcoming school year’s budget is highly sensitive. 

Kenneth Bossert, superintendent of Elwood school district, noted that despite the increase in voters, the ratio of people who supported the budget to those who didn’t remained similar between the two years. “Most budgets that stay under the tax cap pass,” he said. Voter turnout in Elwood increased by 253 percent from last year, with 3,985 total voters. 

Not only has voting been made more accessible this year due to the mail-in format, but the fact that more people are at home suggests that people have more time to think about their local districts. With districts trying to formulate accommodations for the next year, keeping in mind the ever-changing nature of health protocols, district heads have routinely called this year’s school budgets more crucial than normal. 

In terms of the number of new voters, Smithtown Central School District displayed the greatest difference with 8,295 more people voting than just last year. Interim Superintendent Russell Stewart said that, “The support [voters] have given us during this budget season [will] allow us to continue to offer the best education possible to our students.”

The collective increase in voter turnout for the North Shore school districts’ 2020-21 budgets — by more than threefold overall — indicates that mail-in ballots have been more successful than the previous in-person voting. 

It is a unique comparison this year to other political votes nationwide, which have also had to contend with limitations from the pandemic. While votes were still being tallied Wednesday, June 24 for the 2020 state and local primaries, turnout is expected to be lower than in similar primaries in 2018. The number of polling places on Long Island have been consolidated, and instead of absentee ballots sent directly to homes, voting forms had to be requested and sent in before deadline the night of June 23.

In 2018, the most contentious primary for the area was for the Democratic Party contender for the U.S. Congressional District 1 seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY1). Two years ago the total number of votes equaled 20,331. While votes were still being tallied by press time, the number of total votes for people who voted in person is  nearly 5,000 less than last election, according to data from the Suffolk County Board of Elections. Full results will not be known until after July 1 when all mailed-in votes are counted.

As of press time, Perry Gershon is currently leading for the Congressional District 1 seat. Laura Ahearn is also currently leading for the New York State Senate District 1 seat by a few hundred votes over Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station).

Mount Sinai Superintendent Gordon Brosdal. File Photo by Kyle Barr

Mount Sinai residents finally have the full view of their school district budget, coming up on the annual vote in May.

The Mount Sinai School District continued its presentation of its proposed 2019-20 school budget at a district board meeting March 20. The March presentation gave residents the remaining 78 percent of the total budget. 

The total proposed budget figure for the 2019-20 school year will be $60,926,615, which is a slight increase of 1.2 percent from last year’s amount. This year will also see a tax cap increase of 2.17 percent and the district’s tax levy amount would increase close to $900,000. 

At the meeting, Superintendent Gordon Brosdal said the fund balance would decrease this year. For the 2017-18 school year, $5 million was transferred to capital projects to which the public approved to cover a new turf field, bleachers, press box, field events fencing and one-third of a new roof for the high school. 

“The board wants to set a capital reserve of $850,000,” Brosdal said. 

Including the $750,000 in funds put last year in capital reserve, the district will have $1.6 million for future capital projects. Brosdal proposed to use $1.5 million for two projects: the cost of another partial repair of the high school’s roof and to replace the middle school’s HVAC system. 

“This room here, if you recall, last spring we had to move out of this room to the high school because the HVAC system died last year,” the superintendent said. It caused a lot of hot surrounding classrooms, and [it’s something] you can’t fix, it has to be replaced.” 

The district’s $25 million bond failed to pass in December, 2018 with a vote of 664-428. The district said it had intended to use the bond to fix the high school roof, along with providing new classrooms to some aging parts of the school buildings.

Residents will be able to vote on the potential capital projects in May. 

Another issue discussed was student enrollment. According to Brosdal, the district will see a steady decrease in the number of students it has in its schools.  

The current student population is 2,240, and by 2022-23 the district enrollment could drop to 1,909.

“The numbers are dwindling at an alarming rate,” Brosdal said. 

The superintendent said the problem can already be seen in the kindergarten level. The current kindergarten class has a total of 142 students and next school year they are only projecting 89 students. 

“Should these numbers bear fruit, it will have ramifications all over the schools,” he said. “We have to look at everything and be fiscally sound. It’s going to affect a lot of decisions that have to be made.” 

Other highlights of the meeting were that the Teacher Retirement System rate decreased to 8.86 percent, and district officials said they will likely save over $376,000. 

“We are lucky that the teachers retirement system didn’t hammer us this year,” Brosdal said. “It went down significantly from last year.”

The district will look to improve outside lights at schools and parking lots, citing visibility issues and will be bidding again for a security company for the high school. The district is looking for four armed and two armed guards. 

Brosdal said they are not certain on the exact amount they will receive in state aid. In Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) initial executive budget the district would receive $18,251,235. But with Cuomo considering proposing a new budget, the district won’t have an exact number until April. 

The next budget meeting will be on April 17, and the district must adopt a budget in time for a community vote on May 14.