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Three Village Central School District

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Ward Melville High School. Photo by Greg Catalano

The Three Village Central School District has decided to follow the lead of neighboring school districts and close schools for a five-day period from Monday, March 16, through Friday, March 20.

In a letter to school district families and staff members, dated March 13, Superintendent Cheryl Pedisich announced the district would take a proactive step in temporary closing the schools.

“As I have continued to communicate, the district has been closely monitoring the rapidly evolving coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic,” Pedisich said in the letter. “While there is no confirmed case of an individual with COVID19 in our area, there are cases within our surrounding communities and the overall numbers in the county continue to rise.”

In addition to classes, all after-school activities were canceled as of March 13, and Pedisich added that Section XI had notified the district that it has suspended all athletic games and scrimmages in Suffolk County until April 3.

Pedisich said the district will perform a deep cleaning of all buildings and wait for further guidance from health organizations and the New York State Education Department.

Elementary school teachers sent home learning packets with students Friday, according to Pedisich, and secondary students will receive individual direction from their teachers.

“Please know that this decision was not made lightly, and we recognize the impact such a closure will have on our families,” Pedisich said, adding the closure will not affect the remainder of planned vacation days as the district had five unused snow days.

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Ward Melville High School. Photo by Greg Catalano

Editor’s note: On March 13, Three Village Central School District made the decision to close schools March 16 through March 20.

By Andrea Paldy

Utmost on people’s minds these days is the steady approach of COVID-19. Even as school districts try to conduct business as usual, behind the scenes, they are at work on contingency plans.

Tuesday, Three Village parents received a robocall and email from district superintendent Cheryl Pedisich, who assured them that the district is “taking extra precautionary steps to safeguard our students and staff.”

She said the district is getting advice from the New York State and Suffolk County departments of health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New York State Education Department and that it will continue to update protocols as it receives new guidance. Additionally, Three Village is planning for “viable options should a long-term school closure be necessary” as advised by the Department of Health or “other trusted agencies.”

As of Wednesday, field trips, out-of-district staff conferences and unnecessary travel for students and staff have been suspended, she said.

In a telephone interview, Pedisich said district administration continues to meet regularly as information changes. She added that she does not want to “build anxiety” and wants to “keep a positive atmosphere” for students and will continue to keep the community informed.

Every Student Succeeds Act

Last week, amid growing concerns about the coronavirus, Three Village held its regular board meeting, where Laura Pimentel, chief information officer and assistant director of instructional technology, discussed the district’s federal report card. The district schools are all in good standing, though there were some concerns about the system of measure. 

In her report, Pimentel explained the criteria used to measure New York State school districts under the Every Student Succeeds Act, passed in 2015 to replace No Child Left Behind.

For elementary and middle schools, criteria include student growth levels, English language proficiency for English language learners, academic progress in English language arts and math, chronic absenteeism and a composite of state assessment scores in ELA, math and science.

High school progress is measured with the same criteria — using Regents scores from math, English, science and social studies, she explained. The ratings also measure graduation rate and college and career readiness, as well as the still-to-be-determined criteria for civic readiness. Student growth is not measured.

To see how a district compares to others, the district receives a composite score, comprised of a “weighted average achievement measure” and a “core subject performance measure,” Pimentel said. Student test scores are allotted a set number of points. The weighted average divides the points for the students who took the state tests by the total number of students enrolled in the district. The core subject performance measure divides students’ allotted points by the number of students who actually took the test.

As a result of the robust opt-out movement on Long Island, only about 36 percent of the district’s students took the tests. While this brought down the weighted average achievement measure considerably, the core subject performance measure raised the composite scores to an achievement rank of level 3 for all schools except for Arrowhead Elementary, Pimentel said. 

Because high school students don’t opt out of the Regents exams — they need them to graduate — the high school measures only include the weighted score. Ward Melville was ranked a level 4 for academic achievement.

Pimentel said student growth at the elementary school and junior high levels is measured by following students for three years and ranking them against similarly scoring students over the three-year period. Composite scoring showed that Three Village elementary students fell within a level 3 mean growth percentile and that students at Nassakeag Elementary School, which had the highest percentage of students taking the state tests, scored a level 4 mean growth percentile. Both junior high schools fell within lower levels of the growth percentile because most eighth-graders take the Regents exam instead of the state math assessment, Pimentel said.

English language learners in Three Village are well above the state index for success, she said.

Measures of interim progress are set by the state and require districts to close the gap between the district’s baseline and the state’s end goal by 20 percent every five years, she said. These scores included only the weighted average achievement measure, which brought down the district’s elementary school and junior high progress rankings. Ward Melville, however, exceeded the state’s long-term goals for both English and math and met the state’s end goal for English.

All district schools exceeded the state’s long-term goal for absenteeism, and the high school exceeded its end goal for graduation with an above 98 percent graduation rate. Ward Melville also exceeded the state’s long-term goal and is quite close to its end goal for college and career readiness.

Though all district schools received a distinction of being in good standing, two received the distinction after an appeal. Nassakeag Elementary School and R.C. Murphy Junior High were flagged because there were two subgroups of students with low scores in multiple areas, Pimentel said.

A closer look at the scores showed that while there were enough students to make up a subgroup, there were not enough students from the group who tested. As a result, a core subject performance score couldn’t be tabulated. Only a weighted average achievement score was used in the ranking, which skewed the results, Pimental said. But the distinction for the schools was changed after a successful appeal.

“We should be concerned because this report card is public information that is reflecting poorly on our district at the elementary and middle school level, and it’s not even an accurate picture of what’s going on in Three Village schools,” Pimentel said.

She added that “not having test information makes it really challenging for all of us to make the decisions to allocate resources, train our staff and maintain our curriculum so that students have the most growth possible during their time in Three Village Schools.”

2020-21 Budget

Jeff Carlson, deputy superintendent for business services, announced that the cap on the tax levy increase would be 1.96 percent. He also said that there would be an increase in payments to the employee retirement system and health insurance, estimating that the overall budget increase would be around 1.7 percent.

“We do not anticipate having to make any reductions in any programs or services or staffing in order to comply with that, other than what we would do anyway because of changes in enrollment or course requests,” Carlson said.

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A student shakes hands with Valerie Cartright after receiving an award for a video created to highlight health and safety benefits of sidewalks. Photo by Andrea Paldy

By Andrea Paldy

The Three Village school board welcomed Town of Brookhaven and Suffolk County officials Feb. 12 for a special presentation. 

Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R), Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) and county Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) presented awards to four Ward Melville High School students for their public service announcements advocating for sidewalks to ensure safety in the community. 

Sidewalks for Safety, a local grassroots organization, sponsored a video contest to encourage high school students to highlight the health and safety benefits of sidewalks in neighborhoods and around schools. Student projects were sponsored by the Ward Melville art department.

Contest winners were Benjamin Dombroff and Nicole DeLucia, who tied for first place and received $500 each. Mia Schoolman was awarded second place and Elyas Masrour placed third. 

Three Village resident Annemarie Waugh, founder of Sidewalks for Safety, addressed those gathered for last week’s meeting and presentation. The organization’s vision for the community is to have “a minimal number of strategically placed sidewalks on only a few connector roads to enable students and residents to walk safely,” she said. 

Ward Melville Principal Bill Bernhard also spoke. He recalled an appointment with Waugh six years ago, when he was principal at Paul J. Gelinas Junior High School. 

“We had a rather unorthodox meeting,” Bernhard said. “We took a walk around the neighborhood. It was a picturesque, beautiful day … and what we saw, besides the beautiful nature, was something rather disconcerting, which was the lack of available places for our students to walk — our lack of sidewalks.”

The Town installed sidewalks in front of the junior high school in 2016. The $300,000 project also included a pole with flashing LED lights that could be activated by pedestrians with the push of a button. 

Waugh indicated that there is still more to be done.

“Our roads are not comfortable for pedestrians and cyclists,” she said. “They are full of dangerous blind corners and speeding, distracted drivers.”

The student videos, which were screened during the meeting, echoed those concerns.

“Walkable communities are associated with higher home values,” Waugh said. “Imagine your kids being able to walk safely to school, to walk safely to their friends’ houses. Imagine being able to jog safely to West Meadow Beach. Imagine being able to walk for a coffee and to walk to local shops.” 

Romaine commended the students.

“Your students really know how to advocate and make a point,” he told school board members.

Also honored last week were members of the Setauket Elementary School student council, who raised more than $700 for Australian Wildlife Rescue, and varsity athletes who competed in fall sports. 

The school board also finalized the 2020-2021 school calendar. The first day of school will be Sept. 8, 2020.

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BOE also provides prekindergarten updates, comment on mandated vaccine

A parent speaks out about proposed changes to secondary school start times. Photo by Andrea Paldy

 By Andrea Paldy

The first school board meeting of 2020 brought new voices to an old discussion.

“I do not deny the research and scientific data on adolescent health.”

— Riley Meckley

After months of parents, students and alumni speaking to Three Village Central School District administrators and school board members about the importance of changing the secondary school start times, two speakers came forward to offer a new perspective on last fall’s hot topic.

Ward Melville sophomore Riley Meckley spoke on behalf of students who did not want the high school to start later.

“I do not deny the research and scientific data on adolescent health,” she said. “It is definitely true.” 

But she noted that as “appealing” as getting an extra hour of sleep was, most students would still stay up late to study, watch Netflix or surf social media. What concerned Meckley and the students and teachers she spoke with was the negative impact on sports, clubs and after-school jobs, she said. She also spoke of the “hassle” for teachers dealing with athletes leaving ninth period early to get to their away games, as well as the inconvenience of trying to get home in time for their young children.

At December’s meeting, Superintendent Cheryl Pedisich and Jeff Carlson, deputy superintendent for business services, presented 10 possible scenarios for moving the high school start time from 7:05 to 8:20 a.m. In each case, it meant the high school day ended later, cutting out what Meckley referred to as that “precious time” between 2 and 3 p.m., when students could meet for clubs or extra help.

In half of the scenarios, the change meant that elementary schools might begin and end earlier than they do currently.

“We don’t want to lose services, and we definitely don’t want to pay any more money.”

— Matt Rehman

This raised objections from Matt Rehman, the father of elementary school-aged children, who said change spurred by the “loud minority,” in spite of the “silent majority,” would come at the expense of parents with younger children who would have to find a way to get their children off the bus as early as 1:55 in the afternoon.

“We don’t want to lose services, and we definitely don’t want to pay any more money,” he added.

Brian Latham, a high school teacher in a neighboring district and Three Village parent, said he was not opposed to the time change, but like Rehman, he was opposed to the idea, proposed in some scenarios, of moving the sixth graders to the junior highs and the ninth graders to the high school. 

“Forcing them to move to a higher class level earlier is not in their best interest,” Latham said.

“I see on a day-to-day basis how ninth-grade students can suffer when they are pushed up with upper division students too early,” he said.

Latham said that he would be willing to pay more money or cut from other programs in order to maintain “the structure that makes this district one to be admired around Long Island.”

Pedisich assured those present that no decisions had been made and that the school start time committee, which will have its first meeting in February, will consider the original 10 scenarios in addition to new ones.

Additionally, the district will be looking for input from focus groups and will survey parents, staff and students districtwide, the superintendent said.

“We want to do what’s best for our entire school community … for students in grades K-12,” Pedisich said.

“We understand that there are challenges,” she said, specifically mentioning the fiscal, transportation and educational challenges that each proposed option may pose. “That is why the committee needs to take the time, because our students deserve that from us. And our community deserves that.”

“I see on a day-to-day basis how ninth-grade students can suffer when they are pushed up with upper division students too early.”

— Brian Lathan



In preparation for 2020-21 preschool enrollment, Nathalie Lilavois, director of elementary curriculum, delivered a presentation on the district’s free preschool curriculum and tuition-based enrichment program.

This year the preschool is at capacity and students had to be turned away, she said. Ninety-five students participate in the free preschool for half of the day and stay for the tuition-based enrichment program for the other half. The other 106 students are half-day students who only take part in the free preschool program.

While the preschool curriculum, taught by a New York State certified teacher, is aligned to the New York State preschool standards, the enrichment program exposes children to STEM concepts through games and guided play and encourages hands-on learning through inventions. It is the only preschool enrichment program in the country that is inspired by National Inventors Hall of Fame inductees, Lilavois said.  

Applications will be accepted through Feb. 24, and if needed, a lottery will take place on the Feb. 26 with notification on Feb. 28. 

HPV vaccine

School board president William Connors responded to comments he received about the school board’s letter to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) regarding the proposal to mandate the HPV vaccine as one of the battery of vaccinations a student must receive to attend school.

“We normally don’t get involved in political issues,” he said, but the board felt that the mandated vaccine was “administrative overreach” and “inappropriate.”

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In an effort to encourage students to grow careers locally, the Three Village Central School District along with the Three Village Industry Advisory Board hosted the second annual career fair Jan. 6.

Close to 40 Long Island businesses were represented during the Growth Careers on Long Island event to speak with students and parents about fields such as technology, health care and trades. 

In preparation, students in grades 7-12 took a “career DNA” test analysis to reveal potential career paths that matched with their unique personalities. Based on a student’s career DNA results, they would go to color-coded tables and have the opportunity to engage with matched businesses. 

Ilene Littman, 3V-IAB coordinator and Ward Melville High School business teacher, thought the turnout for the event was great. 

“I think it is an advantage for students to know what’s available when they graduate,” she said. “We got a good turnout of businesses, and we are happy they are here.”

Michael Ardolino, 3V-IAB board chair, had similar sentiments. 

“We targeted three growth areas that are specifically on Long Island: health care, hands-on trades plumbing, electrical and different types of technology,” he said. “This is the second year we are doing this, and we are seeing that the students and parents are more engaged.”

Jake Shangold, student representative on the Three Village Industry Advisory Board, said the event gives students a chance to explore a variety of career paths.

“I hope they can come out of this event knowing what they may want to pursue in the future,” he said.

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Three Village Parents in the last few months have talked to the Three Village board of ed about the benefits of teenagers starting school later in the day. Photo by Andrea Paldy

By Andrea Paldy

What began as a lone parental voice during a Three Village school board meeting has blossomed into a movement.

Six months ago, Barbara Rosati, mother of a P.J. Gelinas Jr. High student, asked the board and district administration to consider changing the secondary school start times.

“We also would like to thank deeply our board of education for recognizing our concerns and listening to us and being the leaders that we were hoping you would be.”

— Barbara Rosati

Last week, following a presentation for a path toward meeting parents’ requests, the Three Village school board voted to institute a school start time committee to further investigate the viability of a later start time at the district’s high school.

Rosati, founder of It’s About Time: Three Village Parents for a Later Start Time, was grateful.

“I’d like to thank the administration,” she said. “We really appreciate it. We also would like to thank deeply our board of education for recognizing our concerns and listening to us and being the leaders that we were hoping you would be.”

Rosati, a research assistant professor in Stony Brook University’s Department of Physiology and Biophysics at the Renaissance School of Medicine, had organized parents and held information sessions about sleep deprivation in adolescents. In the months that followed her initial appeal, other parents, students, Ward Melville High School graduates and medical experts all appeared before the school board to express concern about early start times. More than 1,600 signatures were collected, letters were written to the school board and some advocates even traveled to a Start School Later workshop in Pennsylvania.

Chief among the concerns was the pervading sleep deprivation among teens. Research has shown that adolescent circadian rhythms make it difficult for them to fall asleep before 11 p.m. This results in a later sleep cycle interrupted by having to wake up for early classes. Not only does it prevent them from getting the required eight to 10 hours of sleep their growing bodies need, research indicates that it also means difficulty concentrating and puts them at risk for depression, injuries during sports and drowsiness while driving — among other issues.

These concerns prompted district Superintendent Cheryl Pedisich to form a working group of administrators to conduct a preliminary investigation into later start times. Pedisich also pointed to improved academic performance, higher test scores, better focus and self-regulation as additional reasons to look into the change.

The group began its preliminary investigation with certain assumptions in place, the superintendent said.

There would be no redistricting or closing of schools; no students would be at a bus stop earlier than 7 a.m.; and there would be no negative impact to athletics, which means that the high school could not end later than 3 p.m. The final assumption was that the district would continue to support and maintain cocurricular activities while also maintaining the required number of hours of instruction at all grade levels.

“I see the value in looking at this with open eyes.”

— Cheryl Pedisich

Pedisich and Jeff Carlson, deputy superintendent for business services, presented 10 possible scenarios that would move the Ward Melville start time from 7:05 a.m. to 8:20 a.m. with an ending time of 2:55 p.m. Additionally, in half of the configurations, start times at the two junior high schools, P.J. Gelinas and R. C. Murphy, would change to 9:10 a.m., with the day ending at 3:46 p.m.

To make a later start for Ward Melville possible, each period at the high school would be decreased from 41 minutes to 40, and the periods at the junior high would fall from 42 minutes to 41 — decreases that the deputy superintendent said would not “adversely impact the educational program,” but would assist with logistics.

The greater effect could be on student after-school activities or employment, since the school day would end later. The committee found that the time shift could affect students who take afternoon BOCES classes and possibly affect child care needs for staff. The preliminary investigation also found that some athletes might sometimes need to leave ninth period early.

The district currently has four bus runs — high school, followed by junior high, two elementary schools and then, finally, the last three elementary schools. The proposed scenarios would move the district from a four-tiered bus system to a three-tiered one and could affect the start times for the other schools.

The biggest variation in the scenarios was in start times at elementary schools and junior highs. In some projections, the elementary school day starts earlier and runs from 7:40 a.m. to 1:55 p.m. In others, the day runs from 9:25 a.m. to 3:40 p.m., which is the current schedule for the district’s late elementary schools.

When the elementary day starts early, the junior high day starts at 9:10 a.m., and in the scenarios where the elementary day starts after 9 a.m., the junior high schools start earlier, keeping their current start time of 7:35 a.m.

The most expensive transportation scenario moved the sixth grade up to junior high and ninth-graders to the high school. It required eight additional buses and 11 additional minibuses that could run the district about $1.5 million, Carlson said.

The projected cost of the proposed scenarios considered only transportation costs and did not take into account savings from staffing within the schools, Carlson said.

There could, however, be savings in other areas due to the restructuring of the junior and high schools, he added.

Carlson reiterated that these scenarios are just “a starting point to get people thinking and talking” and are not the only possibilities. It would be up to the new committee to further investigate and look into other solutions. The committee, which will meet in January, will be chaired by Pedisich and Carlson. It will be comprised of administrators, staff, parents and high school students and will determine a timeline once it gets underway, Pedisich said.

“I have to say that I see a lot of viability to this,” the superintendent said. “I see the value in looking at this with open eyes. I look forward to working with the committee and with Mr. Carlson as we begin to look at what the options are for our students, so that we can do the best that we can for them.”

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Stock Photo

The Three Village Central School District is standing up to New York State regarding a proposal to mandate one vaccine in New York.

District officials sent a letter dated Nov. 18 to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), as well as state Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) and Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport). The letter, signed by Superintendent Cheryl Pedisich and board of ed President William Connors, stated the board was opposing the proposed amendment to Section 2164 of the public health law. The amendment will require that all students born after 2009 receive the human papillomavirus vaccine as part of the state’s mandated school immunization program.

“While we recognize that changes in the health law are often necessary in order to protect the public at large against health crises or to mitigate exposure to a communicable disease in open spaces, we are clinically opposed to adding the HPV vaccine to the required vaccination program for myriad reasons,” Pedisich and Connors said in the letter.

The school officials went on to say other required vaccines “aim to safeguard children against diseases that are easily contracted in a public school setting.” The letter cited diseases such as measles and pertussis, which can be spread through poor personal hygiene or airborne respiratory droplets. This differs from HPV, which according to the American Cancer Society, is passed from one person to another by skin-to-skin contact associated with sexual activity and not from toilet seats, casual contact and recreational items such as swimming pools and hot tubs.

The district added that data from independent health news site MedShadow, which focuses on the side effects of medicines, shows “post-marketing safety and surveillance data indicate that Gardasil 9 is well tolerated and safe, still many physicians have hesitated to recommend it based on its potential side effects.”

The school officials said in their letter students don’t engage in activities that spread the disease.

“As our public schools are not places where students would engage in the activities found to make one susceptible to contracting or spreading HPV, why then should it be mandatory that students be inoculated with the vaccine in order to attend school?” officials wrote.

Before the letter was posted on the district’s website, members of the Facebook page Three Village Moms began to chatter about the district’s proposed message.

Three Village parent Jenna Lorandini reached out to TBR News Media when she heard the board was taking the stance and said she was disappointed.

“I view the mandate as a necessary public health initiative whose purpose is to protect our children from a communicable disease as adults,” she said in an email. “If the advancements in science and medicine are available to us, mandating the vaccine would create widespread protection. The easiest way to do that is in the public school sector as timing of the vaccine is pertinent to the prevention of a cancer-causing virus. This doesn’t infringe upon my parental rights when its intent is to preserve life before a child can consent to that protection.”

Nichole Gladky, another Three Village parent, said she felt the district was moving too quickly and reacting to “the loud and staunch voices of those who partake in the Anti-Vaxx movement.” She said she will do what her pediatrician recommends.

“I wish the vaccination was available to me at the time,” she said. “There is a lot of easily consumable media of misinformation available on the Internet, social media, TV, etc. Everyone needs a proper dose of education on this vaccine — and disease control in general — and it could start with the school district before any action is taken.”

Dayna Whaley, whose daughter is unable to attend kindergarten at Arrowhead Elementary School due to not having vaccinations that New York State made a requirement earlier this year, said she thinks the letter is a good idea, even though she wishes the school would do more to oppose mandate vaccinations. She and her husband chose not to get vaccinations for their daughter on religious basis and after watching her suffer a spinal tap at four days old after getting the vitamin K shot.

“Requiring vaccines for sexually transmitted diseases as a requirement for school attendance as with hepatitis B and now Gardasil is just plain wrong,” she said.

In the case of requiring Gardasil to attend school, Whaley said that she feels even pro vaccinating parents will be willing to pull their children from public school.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HPV is estimated to cause nearly 35,000 cases of cancer in men and women every year in the U.S.

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Dr. Philip Schrank, a Three Village district physician and chief medical officer for concussion management, spoke at the most recent board of education meeting about starting school later in the morning. Photo by Andrea Paldy

By Andrea Paldy

The recent Three Village school board meeting included a presentation of the district’s report card and the continued discussion of school start time, a topic initiated by a parent group.

Utilizing statistics from the 2019 state standardized tests, Regents exams and Ward Melville’s graduating class, Kevin Scanlon, assistant superintendent for educational services, was able to give the board a detailed snapshot of the district.

Enrollment continued to decline in 2018-19, dropping from 6,131 in the previous year to 5,812. However, Scanlon said, with prekindergarten enrollment, numbers stabilized this fall.

Three Village students excelled on the Regents exams with pass rates between 91  and 95 percent on English and social studies exams, and with 67 to 84 percent of students receiving mastery level scores in the various humanities. Math results included a 92 percent pass rate for algebra, 95 percent pass rate for geometry and 99 percent pass rate for algebra 2. Between 46 and 50 percent of students received scores of mastery, Scanlon reported.

The district’s students led the state in scores for physics and chemistry with 94 and 96 percent pass rates, respectively, he said. Ninety-three percent of students passed the earth science exam and 94 percent passed the living environment Regents. Mastery scores ranged from 46 to 68 percent.

Of the 544 students in last spring’s graduating class, 311 were Advanced Placement scholars, the largest number in 20 years, the assistant superintendent said. Additionally, the senior class, which had 100 fewer students than the previous year, had a 97 percent graduation rate and 95 percent college acceptance rate for both four-year and two-year colleges.

The New York State assessments for students in grades 3 through 8 showed that the district’s opt-out rate dropped from 65 to 64 percent for the English Language Arts tests and from 67 to 65 percent for math.

Scanlon said that Three Village student rates of passing far exceeded those of Nassau, Suffolk and New York State for each grade in the subjects tested. District students outperformed students in nearby districts — Commack, Half Hollow Hills, Harborfields, Hauppauge, Northport, Port Jefferson and Smithtown— on the ELA and ranked first in all grades except for grades 3 and 4, where they ranked second.

The math scores followed a similar pattern in which district students ranked first in all grades, except for third grade, where they ranked second, and eighth grade, where they ranked fifth. Scanlon said the latter was because a majority of the district’s eighth-graders take the algebra Regents exam instead of the math assessment.

As a final metric, the district’s independent auditor, Thomas Smith of the EFPR Group, said that the school district is “way below the debt limit set by the state” and is “very financially healthy.”

It’s about time

With passage of a California law prohibiting public high schools from starting before 8:30 a.m. and middle schools before 8 a.m., Three Village parents thanked the district’s administrators for taking time to consider their request but continued to lobby for similar change.

Joining the ranks of speakers on behalf of later school start times were Dr. Philip Schrank, a Three Village district physician and chief medical officer for concussion management, and David McKinnon, a professor of neurobiology at Stony Brook University. Both gave biological reasons for the need for change.

“Eight years ago, I stood in front of this tremendous board, and you guys had the courage and the vision to be the first district in Suffolk County to implement a concussion management program,” Schrank said. “You made our kids safer and healthier. I would ask you to have the same courage and vision to be leaders on this issue, which dramatically affects all of the kids in this district.”

Superintendent Cheryl Pedisich, who met with the leaders of Its About Time: Three Village Parents for a Later School Start Time to discuss the issue, said the district is exploring the impacts and costs of a time shift. The findings will be presented to the board in December.

Dignity for All Students Act

Triggered by an incident at Arrowhead Elementary School, three parents attended last week’s meeting to discuss the Dignity for All Students Act, also known as DASA, particularly pertaining to early grades.

Heather Cohen, Shari Glazer and Cindy Morris asked that elementary school principals and teachers have age-appropriate resources for students and their families. They also want a protocol for DASA forms for students or parents to complete to allow “hate crimes” to be tracked and monitored over time. The parents also requested that when an incident occurred at school that all parents be notified.

During an interview, Pedisich said there’s “a definite protocol for DASA” and the handling of complaints. Additionally, she said, each school has DASA coordinators — the principal and a social worker — and district procedures are outlined on its website.

The superintendent said that though the specific case had been closed at the school level, it had now been reopened at the district level because of additional concerns brought to the administration.

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Just a day after the unofficial last day of summer, on Sept. 3, elementary, junior high and high school students in the Three Village district were off and running toward a new academic year.

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Kevin Finnerty is the new executive director of health, physical education, recreation and athletics in the Three Village school district. Photo from Three Village Central School District

Before the new academic year begins, the Three Village Central School District is switching up the roster.

In a July 22 letter to parents, Cheryl Pedisich, superintendent of schools, announced that Kevin Finnerty has been appointed executive director of health, physical education, recreation and athletics. Finnerty replaces Peter Melore who accepted a position in another school district, according to the letter.

Finnerty, a Bay Shore resident, has worked in the school district since 2010. He started his career in Three Village as a physical education teacher and department chairperson for physical education and health at R.C. Murphy Junior High School. Through his near-decade career in the district, he has also served as assistant principal at Murphy and, most recently, as an assistant principal at Ward Melville High School.

“While a strong building leader, Mr. Finnerty’s passion has long been within the area of physical education, health education and athletics,” Pedisich said in the letter.

Recently, Finnerty, a husband and father of three, answered a few questions for The Village Times Herald.

How did you feel when you heard the news that you were chosen?

I was very excited and enthusiastic about the new role. I have always had a passion for educating children in health, physical education and athletics. My career goal was to be an athletic director one day. Over the years, I have had the pleasure and privilege of interning and working with numerous teachers, coaches, athletic directors and other administrators. The knowledge that I have garnered from each of these individuals has been invaluable, and I hope to make them and the district proud as the new executive director of health, physical education, recreation and athletics in the Three Village Central School District.

What would you like to accomplish as director?

As the new executive director of HPERA, I want to continue promoting and highlighting our outstanding programs and teams. We have many dedicated student-athletes, teachers, coaches and community members. I want to support our flourishing programs, while helping all of our teams and programs reach the highest level of play and competition and success. I have met with myriad stakeholders to include teachers, coaches, facility directors, grounds crews, custodians, central office, BOE, security, etc. During this time, I have gathered important information pertaining to the strengths of our programs and the areas where we need improvement. This is a pivotal point in my career, and I plan on making Three Village my home for a long time. I will work tirelessly in the hope of leaving an indelible mark on our district and community.

How does it feel to work in the physical education area again?

I started my career as a physical education teacher and coach, and it feels great to get back to my “roots.” It has been an honor to work for Three Village as a teacher, chairperson and assistant principal over the years. Our students, parents, teachers and coaches know I hold physical and health education to a high standard. I believe in educating our students as a “whole” individual. Under my leadership, I will do my best to promote student academics, achievement on and off the field, and encourage a healthy life physically, mentally and socially.