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Three Village Central School District

Shaorui Li and Stanley Bak congratulate each other after winning seats on the Three Village board of education. Photo by Mallie Kim

By Mallie Jane Kim

Three Village voters reelected the two incumbent board of education members and, in a close race for third, selected Stanley Bak to finish out a one-year term that was up for grabs.

The 3,280 residents who voted also accepted the district’s $236.1 million budget for 2024-25, with 65% approval (2,140-1,140).

As district officials tabulated results from each area of town on screen during the May 21 board meeting, it was a nail-biter for Bak and fellow candidate Amitava Das, who were neck and neck. In the end, Bak won the seat by just 5 votes — 1,688 to 1,683.

Bak said he is relieved, but also grateful the campaign was so civil. The two-week campaign saw a collegial rapport between the four candidates, all of whom spoke highly of the slate of people willing to volunteer to serve the community.

“I think that reflects very strongly on Three Village,” Bak said, adding that he’s ready to start working on the goals he stated during the campaign, including fiscal sustainability, later secondary school start times and enforcement of the district’s cell phone policy. 

“We’ve done the campaign part, and now the hard part comes because we have to do the work,” he said.

And Bak may get a chance sooner than he anticipated. At the meeting, district officials realized that since he is filling a currently vacant seat left empty by a board member who had to resign for personal reasons, his term may begin immediately. They planned to consult the district’s lawyer to seek out an answer, though one was not available by press time.

Shaorui Li, with 1,976 votes, and Susan Rosenzweig, with 1,970 votes, easily recaptured their seats for another term. 

“If I can serve and be useful to the community, I’m more than happy to continue,” Rosenzweig said after the results were certified. “I think it’s a really productive board, and we’ve done really good work.”

For her part, Li, who spoke during the campaign about protecting the extracurriculars the district provides, was excited to be reelected but already looking to the difficult job the board has ahead of it. 

“We still want to support extra programs, but with the budget, it’s always a balance,” she said. “It’s going to be tough, but with support from the community, we’re confident with it.”

2024 school budgets, propositions and candidates results:

Three Village Central School District:

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

 

Ward Melville High School. File photo

By Mallie Jane Kim

Three Village Central School District will see at least 67 retirements across instructional and noninstructional staff this year, according to Deputy Superintendent Jeffrey Carlson. Those retirements, along with a restructuring of district administration, will allow Three Village to cut about 15 full-time positions through attrition and save an estimated $2.9 million. 

Carlson explained at an April 3 school board meeting that staff adjustments will include three additional elementary teachers to help balance class sizes as well as the restoration of an administrative-level director of curriculum and instruction, though he pointed out the number of administrators will stay the same. 

“Because of the retirements, that gives us a chance to look at different positions, and maybe there would be a different structure that would fit us better,” Carlson said.

The staff adjustments are part of budget plans to stay within this year’s 2.84% tax levy increase cap for the district, against the background of uncertainty in the state budget negotiations in Albany. New York’s budget dictates how much state funding goes to each district, and though it was supposed to land April 1, the process is still ongoing.

Carlson maintained his optimism that the $9 million in cuts to the district proposed by Gov. Kathy Hochul’s budget plan in January would not come to fruition, yet indicated the district administration has planned the 2024-25 school year budget with caution. 

“We feel we’ve put a solid budget together,” Carlson told the board. “If we do wind up with a reduction in aid, then we will be prepared to make the recommendation for what gets cut.”

The district is proceeding with its budget planning as though state funding will come through. According to Carlson, that makes more sense than planning for hypothetical state aid cuts since what voters will choose whether to adopt on May 21 is a maximum budget amount.

“It doesn’t mean we have to spend that much money — it just means we can’t spend more than that,” he said.

Two board members push for advanced planning, taxpayer relief

Trustee Karen Roughley again pushed administrators for more advanced planning, suggesting a sort of vision board to help steer Three Village toward its goals, and account for probable mandates coming down the pike from New York State, like potential financial literacy requirements for graduation. 

“If I had some sort of plan to say, ‘In the next one to two to three years, we want to increase the business department by three teachers because we want to add XYZ courses,’” she said, posing a hypothetical example. “Then we could see as we’re working through the budget with you guys that, ‘OK, maybe this is the year to add one of those in, and then next year maybe we can add the two more in.’”

Her colleague David McKinnon went further, suggesting the district halt any budget growth for 2024-25 over the current $230.9 million budget. 

“I’m afraid it’s really now or never for local tax relief,” McKinnon said, pointing to this year’s state aid uncertainty and the likelihood that changes to future state aid would probably mean less money over time flowing from the state to the district, due to lower enrollment.

He added that though enrollment has been declining for more than a decade, residents have not seen any decline in their taxes. “Taxpayers have not had very effective representation in the budget process,” he said, indicating that’s why he ran for the board in the first place. “The result is obviously some pent-up frustration with the budgets.”

Superintendent of Schools Kevin Scanlon pointed out enrollment has leveled in the lower grades, indicating a move toward stabilization in student numbers. He added that the cost of educating students has gone up, and many of those rising costs are due to inflation or otherwise out of the administration’s control, like employee contracts, which are negotiated by the school board in conjunction with the relevant unions.

“Going from the 2.84% in tax levy [increase] now to a zero would definitely have a tremendous impact on our budget,” he said, suggesting class sizes would soar and the district would have to cut programs and close an elementary school by September. “While the taxpayers would have the relief, the students would suffer in my opinion in many ways.”

Board member Jeffrey Kerman took issue with the suggestion of further cuts, and with McKinnon’s assertion he is on the board to negotiate for taxpayers.

“We all represent the taxpayers — we also represent the students,” Kerman told McKinnon. “We try to negotiate with our unions and everything else, but we’re here for the students — to make sure our district remains the district that it is now, a wonderful district.”

The board is scheduled to adopt a budget at an April 17 meeting, and the budget will face voters on May 21.

By Katherine Kelton

The annual Three Village Student Art and Technology Fair featuring hundreds of works from local K-12 students was held Saturday, March 16, at Hilton Garden Inn in Stony Brook.

“During 2020 we all went on lockdown,” said Jennifer Trettner, head of the Three Village Central School District art department and coordinator of the event. “I had made arrangements to start having our show here. It’s a bigger space than where we used to have it. And then, of course, we couldn’t have the show for the next two years. Last year was our first year here, and it truly is a wonderful space. We love having a partnership with the campus here.” 

Hundreds of people filed into the venue to view the exhibits. Students from the technology and art classes of Three Village school district showcased different pieces and projects. 

Raymond Lang, a junior at Ward Melville High School shared, “I think it’s important to show the diversity of the art department and Three Village and all of the different aspects of the programs that we have like graphic design, computer art, film and traditional painting, drawing, as well as photography.”

Lang contributed three of his own works with a theme of the influential women of his life. 

Other students displayed samples of their art portfolios, like senior Ashton Hopkins. “Well, my theme is about how people are remembered and what influence they leave on the world when they die,” he said.

For the students in the middle and elementary schools, teachers selected artwork to be showcased at the event. 

Seventh grader Gianna Inserra’s dimensional art piece was chosen for the show. However, for her, the art show is special not only to see her art but also to find inspiration. “Seeing other people’s artwork can inspire me what to do next,” Gianna said.

For teachers in the two departments, Saturday was a special day for a lot of different reasons. Maria Maritato, Gelinas Junior High School art teacher, said, “It’s so amazing as an art teacher to see our students bloom from elementary to high school.”

The TVCSD technology department is also an integral part of the event, Gelinas technology teacher Dean Kostis explained. “Whenever we do anything in technology we try to do our research, then our design, then we make the product and then we assess it,” he said. 

The acting principal of Ward Melville High School, Paul Gold, also attended. “I think that Three Village goes above and beyond to meet the needs of all learners,” he said. “For those students who are passionate about art technology and design, it’s in our hallways at Three Village that these students can be successful and thrive.”

According to Gold and Trettner, the event was a major success for the school district, also the art and technology departments. 

Ward Melville High School. File photo

By Mallie Jane Kim

After weeks of advocacy, Three Village Central School District is planning its budget as though proposed drastic cuts in state funding won’t happen. 

Administration officials expressed optimism during a preliminary budget discussion at a March 6 Board of Education meeting, stating they plan to create the 2024-25 school year budget based roughly on current state aid numbers, as opposed to incorporating the nearly $9 million in cuts the district would receive under Gov. Kathy Hochul’s (D) state budget proposal. 

“I’m fairly confident we’re going to get [funding] restored,” said Superintendent of Schools Kevin Scanlon while sharing that he had just returned from a few days lobbying in Albany. “Whether or not we get an increase, that stands to be seen. Until we receive confirmation of that, I think we should proceed cautiously.”

Deputy Superintendent Jeffrey Carlson agreed, adding, “That does not mean we don’t plan for that kind of thing going forward, whether it be next year, the year after, the year after that.” 

Part of Hochul’s rationale in presenting the budget was realigning state school funding to reflect declining enrollment in certain districts. Affected districts pointed to extreme inflation in recent years, and also said it would be an overwhelming burden to force school districts to absorb in one year cuts based on a decade’s worth of enrollment decline.

Freshmen board members Karen Roughley and David McKinnon, who ran for the board in part to push for more advanced budget planning, both encouraged the district to consider options to fundamentally make district spending more sustainable, such as repurposing a school.

“Infrastructure costs money,” McKinnon said, explaining that district costs are rising faster than its income. “It’s one of the first things businesses do — we’re going to have to cut down on how much infrastructure we’re trying to maintain. There’s no way around that.”

Roughley agreed. “We need to make sure that we are preparing for things to be reduced every single year, because it’s going to happen,” she said. 

Administration officials previously estimated the cost savings of $1.1 million for repurposing one of the district’s five elementary schools, but during the public comment section of the board meeting, resident Carmine Inserra questioned that figure. “I feel it’s probably more than that if you include the benefit of combining programs at less schools, which offers efficiencies at dividing students among teachers, rooms and transportation,” said Inserra, who leads the Residents for Responsible Spending group in the district. “It’s far more savings than just turning down the heat.”

Inserra also called out the district administration and board for “ignoring” declining enrollment for years and for neglecting to give enough information and authority to its Budget Advisory Committee, a group of stakeholders that advises the board on the budget plan. 

“The BAC meetings have turned into sales presentations from the district admins on what their departments do and the successes they’ve had,” said Inserra, who served on the BAC a few years ago and said he watches the meetings even though he was not selected this year. “Have you given them any projected expenses and income for the coming years? Have you explained to them how expenses are affected by contractual [teacher] salary and benefit increases?”

For his part, Carlson defended the BAC presentations, saying he felt the committee would be more equipped to make good recommendations if they understand where the money is going, rather than looking at a line item on a page. 

Scanlon noted that much of the district’s rising costs are out of the administration’s control, such as increases in transportation contract costs and unfunded mandates from the state, like the one to switch to electric school buses by 2035. But the district is still watching for ways to be more cost-effective, he said, and pointed to one expected area of savings — teacher retirements. More than half the district’s teachers are “very senior” with about 26 years of experience, according to Scanlon, who anticipates 117 teacher retirements over the next four years. 

“That is a significant brain drain to our community,” he said. “We’re going to lose a lot of highly-qualified teachers, but at the same time it’s going to be a cost savings.”

Carlson, who heads up the budget planning process and presented the preliminary 2024-25 budget, said that the district can make reductions in next year’s plan as needed once real state aid numbers come in, to stay within the district’s tax cap. 

The state’s budget is due by April 1, though last year it didn’t land until May. That timing makes it hard for school districts, which need to have budgets ready for public review between April 30 and May 7. In Three Village school district’s timeline, that means the board needs to adopt its budget at the April 3 meeting. 

Fifth graders tested their filtration systems by pouring dirt mixed with water through the top, yielding cleaner water after passing through the filter. Photo courtesy of TVCSD

Fifth graders at Arrowhead Elementary School turned environmental engineers during a recent science lab with Ms. Lukralle. Students learned about how people can protect earth’s systems and were tasked with building their own water filters.

Students were given several materials to design a filter including a sponge, cotton balls, gravel, rocks, sand and a coffee filter. They examined the materials and noted the properties of each before drawing a diagram of what their filter would look like. Next, they constructed their filters inside of a plastic water bottle.

The fifth graders put their filters to the test by mixing soil and water together, then pouring them over their filtration systems. For many students, cleaner water dripped into a cup underneath, showing the effectiveness of their filters. 

Setauket Elementary School. Photo by Mallie Jane Kim

By Mallie Jane Kim

Some area seniors and persons with disabilities will qualify for a 50% cut to the school portion of their property taxes next year, after the Three Village Board of Education voted during their Feb. 7 meeting to raise the maximum income levels on a tax exemption aimed at easing the financial burden on vulnerable groups.

The move comes after nearly a year of advocacy by area senior Rochelle Pollack, who approached the podium with her walker at several board meetings since March 2023 in order to ask the board to make the change. She said seniors have elevated medical and prescription costs — alongside the high inflation rates impacting everyone. “House prices have skyrocketed,” she said at an April 2023 meeting. “It’s great if you’re selling, but it’s not if you’re staying, as school taxes have also skyrocketed.”

Pollack pointed out that someone making $40,000 but paying $14,000 in property taxes is left with $26,000 to live on. “In this day of high inflation, gas, food, heat, medical procedures and prescriptions, I dare any of you to live on $26,000,” she told the board. “How can seniors?”

According to Deputy Superintendent Jeffrey Carlson, it’s unclear how much the savings for these groups will impact all the other homeowners in the area.

“What makes it tricky for the board is there’s no way to know how many people will now get this exemption,” Carlson explained, adding that changing the income levels opens up the exemption to a whole new group of people. “How many? No idea. We have no idea what income levels are, so it’s hard to say how much it will cost everyone else.”

During previous board meeting discussions of the exemption, Carlson compared it to splitting a restaurant bill. If two people in a group of 10 want to pay less because they only had water and salad, the other eight diners must pay more — the cost of the bill doesn’t change. “For one person to pay a little less, it means everyone else pays a little more.”

New York State raised the maximum allowable income levels in 2022 to $50,000 for those aged 65 and over, but the board opted to meet that increase halfway in light of uncertainty over how many seniors will take advantage of the tax credit, and what the real impact will be on all other homeowners. 

The sliding scale approved by the board will mean people over 65, or those with disabilities, who make up to $39,500 can qualify for the maximum 50% benefit. At the lowest end of the exemption, those making $47,000 to $47,900 can get a 5% tax break. Residents would need to apply for the exemption to the town assessor by March 1. 

Carlson explained that the state used to raise maximums for this income-based exemption incrementally each year, but until last year hadn’t made an increase since 2009, hence the substantial jump. Previously, residents needed to make $29,000 or less to qualify for the 50% discount. 

Trustee David McKinnon vocally supported increasing the income levels for the exemption, as he had during previous board discussions, as a moral issue of fairness. He called property taxes regressive by nature since they tend to disproportionately burden people with lower incomes — the less a person earns, the higher percentage of their income they end up paying, on average. McKinnon also praised Pollack for her advocacy in raising the issue to the board.

“She’s been an incredibly effective advocate for seniors here,” he said. “I knew nothing about this particular issue, and she came in at considerable cost to herself.”

The board was unanimous in approving the increase, and left open the possibility of bringing the district in line with state maximums next year, depending on the impact this change has on the rest of the community.

From left, Rebecca Kassay, Sen. Anthony Palumbo, Assemblywoman Jodi Giglio, Sen. Mario Mattera, Assemblyman Ed Flood and high school students rally against proposed education cuts. Photo by Samantha Rutt

Elected officials from across Long Island joined forces in a rally Feb. 1 held on the front lawn of Ward Melville High School. A diverse crowd of educators, students, parents, concerned citizens and community figures gathered for the event, lining Old Town Road with signage reading “$ave Our School$,” as officials vehemently spoke in opposition to the proposed cuts to education funding outlined in the latest state budget proposal. 

The proposed cuts, part of a broader state budget plan aiming to address fiscal challenges, have sparked widespread concern among education advocates and community members. Long Island officials, representing various districts and political affiliations, united in their stance against these reductions, emphasizing the detrimental impact they would have on the region’s schools and students.

New York State Sens. Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) and Mario Mattera (R-St. James), along with state Assemblymembers Ed Flood (R-Port Jefferson), Jodi Giglio (R-Riverhead) and Port Jefferson Deputy Mayor Rebecca Kassay (D) all stood before the podium expressing their respective concerns.

“Governor Hochul’s proposed budget is a choice to underfund our schools, and it’s shameful,” Palumbo said. “We’re here to bring attention to that. This is critical. This is absolutely important.”

Palumbo, who represents New York Senate District 1, spanning from Stony Brook to Montauk, opened the rally addressing the financial consequences of the proposal on his district. 

“The governor’s proposed budget cuts state aid by $168 million, affecting 337 school districts statewide,” Palumbo said. “My district, Senate District 1, around 330,000 people, stands to lose $20,025,000 if the governor’s budget is adopted. And where we’re standing here in Three Village, they stand to lose $8.9 million in funding.” 

Three Village Central School District is among the many school districts to be affected by the budget proposal, experiencing the highest values lost in aid. Among the other districts to be affected are Port Jefferson School District standing the potential to be hit by the largest percentage of funding loss on Long Island at over 28%. Mount Sinai, Cold Spring Harbor, Smithtown and Kings Park school districts also stand to be negatively affected by the proposal.

Concerns for education quality and job loss

The rally highlighted the importance of adequate funding for schools in ensuring the quality of education and opportunities for all students. Flood spoke to his concerns for the quality of education students would receive suggesting programs, extracurricular activities and staff would have to be cut as a consequence of the proposed cuts to education funding.

“It’s disgraceful that we’re talking about having to cut budgets, in terms of cutting buildings, cutting programs, cutting staff and faculty,” Flood said. “We as people, teachers and school employees have our own families and right now to play politics with the lives of our students and our workforce is just shameful.” 

Cuts to education funding can have a multifaceted impact that can undermine the quality of education by diminishing resources, increasing class sizes, reducing extracurricular opportunities and straining the workforce, ultimately impeding students’ academic success and holistic development.

Echoing Flood’s sentiments, Mattera highlighted the direct consequences of reduced funding on classroom resources and student support services. “All the workers that are inside, our custodians, everybody, our security officers have a chance of losing their jobs. Does anybody want to lose their jobs? No,” Mattera emphasized. “You know what, our governor is making sure that this is going to happen.”

The rally also featured testimonials from parents who shared personal stories illustrating the impact of education funding on their lives. Kristen Gironda, a member of the Three Village PTA Council board, spoke about the challenges students may face and the critical role of adequate funding in addressing those obstacles. “We rely heavily on Foundation Aid for the success of our current and future students,” Gironda said. “Cutting this money from the current budget would be detrimental to the future of our students, their education and the opportunity that we can continue to provide them with.”

Students were also present at the rally, donning signs and standing alongside the officials as cars driving past honked their horns in reaction to the public event.

After all other officials spoke, Kassay concluded, “We must work together as a full district to make sure that as changes need to be made and that they’re made with the voices of the people standing here, the voices of the school behind us, and all the schools in the area to make sure that the changes are incremental, not straining taxpayers and not sacrificing jobs.” 

As the rally came to a close, elected officials pledged to continue advocating for increased education funding and urged community members to join them in their efforts urging everyone to “Get vocal with Governor Hochul!”

Ward Melville High School. File photo by Greg Catalano

By Mallie Jane Kim

A proposal to make secondary school start times later in Three Village Central School District failed in a deadlock 3-3 vote Jan. 24, due to concerns over newfound uncertainty sparked by Gov. Kathy Hochul’s (D) proposed state budget plan, which could see the district lose $9 million in funds. 

“If only this had all happened before we got this lovely little bomb dropped from Albany,” said board president Susan Rosenzweig at the Jan. 24 meeting.

Later start times were originally going to be part of the Jan. 10 district restructuring vote, which solidified a plan to move the sixth and ninth grades up to make 6-8 grade middle school and a four-year high school in the fall of 2025. But advocates for later start times asked the board to consider making a change for the 2024-25 school year, before the restructuring. That start-time vote failed because of increased cost and dissatisfaction that the proposed 35-minute change did not push start times late enough. 

The district’s Ward Melville High School currently begins at 7:05, and during a public meeting on start times in 2023, one parent shared video of a student getting picked up by a school bus in the pitch darkness of the early morning.

According to Rosenzweig, board procedure dictated they couldn’t vote on start time changes both for 2024-25 and 2025-26 in the same meeting, and the board was expected to approve the start time change for fall 2025 on Jan. 24. 

Until that “bomb from Albany.” 

“While the will is strong to make this happen, while we care more than anything about the children and their well-being and their welfare and want to do the right thing — we agree it’s a health issue — that burden of financial responsibility to me is too heavy right now,” Rosenzweig explained.

According to the district’s budget expert, Deputy Superintendent Jeffrey Carlson, the “real number” loss in funding under the governor’s budget would be about $8 million, after accounting for expected changes in building aid and taking out the “hypothetical” funding available for Universal Pre-K, which the district does not receive because implementing UPK would be more expensive than the current Three Village pre-K program, even with the additional aid money.

This vote marks the first time the six-member board ran into an even split. They opted last fall to rely on their “collegial” relationship rather than spend district money on a special election to replace the seventh board member, who had to vacate her position for personal reasons.

In the event of a tie, a motion does not pass.

The proposal’s failure comes despite years of advocacy by parents and, according to Rosenzweig, 22 letters written in support of later start times to the board in the week before the meeting.

Trustees Karen Roughley and David McKinnon argued that the board has been coupling restructuring with later start times through the decision process, and acting in good faith would mean keeping that pairing in place. “We need to distinguish a hypothetical, which is the governor’s budget, from a principle which is that we have to protect students’ health. They’re two separate things. We should be voting on principle, not some hypothetical which virtually everyone believes is going to change,” McKinnon said.

He added that restructuring the district without changing start times would create an “inferior product” since ninth graders would have to wake up even earlier than they do while housed in the junior high schools. “We would be agreeing that the ninth-grade students would now also have to get up as early as 5:30 in the morning in order to study physics and calculus while they’re half asleep.”

Board member Shaorui Li, the third “yes” voter, questioned the need to put off the decision over the potential cuts to a budget that for 2023-24 is $230.9 million. “We said many times this is a health issue — $8 million is about 4% of our total budget. For this 4%, are we willing to sacrifice our students’ health again?” she asked.

In voting “no,” Rosenzweig also pointed out the upcoming engagement of a transportation consultant, who the board hopes will figure out a way to push secondary school start times closer to 8 a.m. while spending less than the nearly $1 million increase predicted to accommodate additional buses.

Rosenzweig urged district families not to see the lack of decision as final. “This is not the end of the conversation,” she said. “This is just a moment where we have to be responsible with the information we have, and the information we don’t have yet. We don’t have the transportation consultant’s report yet, and we don’t have verified information from Albany. We don’t know what’s real and what’s a stunt.”

Ward Melville senior Grace Balocca banks two for the Patriots. Photo by Bill Landon

Ward Melville rattled off six wins in a row to open their ’23-’24 season but were tripped up in a nonleague road game against Shoreham-Wading River, falling to the League VI Wildcats, 39-35, Dec. 29. 

The Patriots, reeling from that loss, pummeled Central Islip on the road in a league matchup defeating the Musketeers, 58-28, in the Jan. 4 contest. 

Ward Melville senior Emma Silverman led the offensive attack with a 3-pointer and four from the floor for 11 points. Senior Grace Balocca netted eight points as did Addison Dellaporta, and teammates Julia Dank, Jaclyn Engel and Kaitlyn McNeil each scored seven points apiece.

The win kept the Patriots atop the League I leaderboard, consolidated by a 43-34 victory against Longwood Jan. 6. 

Superintendent also addresses Regents score worries with end of Do No Harm

Public domain photo

Reconfiguring Three Village Central School District and changing start times could cost nearly $3 million, according to Superintendent of Schools Kevin Scanlon, who urged the Board of Education to decide by January whether to adopt the plan.

The superintendent advised that decisions are necessary soon to provide the district time to enact all the proposed changes by the target 2025-26 school year.

“We should try to do it all at once, as opposed to doing one piece here and then having another transition for families in another piece,” Scanlon said during a Dec. 13 presentation to the BOE.

The proposal entails moving sixth grade up to the junior high schools, bumping ninth grade up to the high school and making secondary school start times later. The plan aims to improve financial stability, realign the district in light of declining enrollment, bring the district into line with state norms and address health concerns surrounding early start times for adolescents.

Scanlon estimated costs to reconfigure buildings to accommodate the grade changes could be about $2 million for projects like converting faculty rooms back into classrooms and configuring spaces for science labs, art and music.

According to Scanlon, the start time change would require adding buses to the district’s rotation at a cost of $963,000 if implemented at the same time as the grade changes, and more if implemented in 2024-2025, before sixth and ninth move up.

Scanlon left on the table the possibility of repurposing an elementary school or the North Country administration building, though he warned the funds from such moves would not “solve all the world’s problems in this regard,” and any such discussions would need to wait for recommendations from this year’s recently convened Budget Advisory Committee.

A couple of the trustees, including Karen Roughley, wondered if it was possible to do more to improve district finances, especially since BACs in former years have already suggested the board consider repurposing a school.

“I’m not sure why we are pushing it off again when we’ve been talking about it for two years now,” she said, adding that the board could also discuss the possibility of repurposing both an elementary school and the North Country building, rather than either/or. “We need to look at this district’s financial stability going forward.”

During the public comment section, Gelinas Junior High School guidance counselor and district resident Anthony Dattero gave a grave warning against moving too fast on reconfiguration. “There’s something in the chemistry of the district that is unique and different,” he said, pointing to the many accomplishments for athletics and scholarship frequently honored at board meetings. “The benefits [of reconfiguring] have to be also looked at with what we’re trading off.”

He said he believes keeping sixth and ninth graders in the younger schools gives them a chance to mature and therefore be better prepared for their next stage of education.

Board president Susan Rosenzweig indicated the board will consider allowing public comment at the start of their Jan. 10 meeting to allow residents to express concerns before the board’s vote, rather than after the fact.

Residents can watch Scanlon’s presentation and the resulting discussion in its entirety on the district’s YouTube page under the “Live” tab, starting at 1:37:00.

Regents scores

Scanlon also sought to ease parental concerns over the board’s Nov. 29 vote to end the so-called Do No Harm policy, under which Regents scores were only factored into a course grade if they helped the grade [See story, “Split 4-2 vote keeps Regents scores in final grades for Three Village students,” Dec. 1, TBR News Media].

According to Scanlon, teachers can adjust grades up to 5 points on their own, or up to 10 points with administration approval. under a policy enacted in 2016.

“Before there was a Do No Harm policy, we had something in place,” he said, adding that Three Village teachers want to see students succeed. “One test shouldn’t define a child.”

Board member Vincent Vizzo chimed in to say he saw this policy in action when he was principal of Murphy Junior High School. “Plenty of teachers have come forward to ask me, ‘Vin, I really want to adjust a grade for a student,’” he said. “The teachers are aware.”