11/09/14 10:00am
11/09/2014 10:00 AM
New stores like Costco have increased Riverhead's assessed value, which could increase the school tax. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

New stores like Costco have increased Riverhead’s assessed value, which could increase the school tax. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

The annual swing of school taxes from the Riverhead Town portion of the Riverhead School District to Southampton Town has hit the people in Flanders, Riverside and Northampton pretty hard in the past.  But this year, the Southampton Town portion of the district will be getting a break.

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11/08/14 10:00am
11/08/2014 10:00 AM
Peconic Community School lower primary student Sawyer Harbin shows the Zimbabwe schoolchildren the doll he bought during a live video conference Friday morning as Tinashe Basa, a nonprofit director, watches on. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Peconic Community School lower primary student Sawyer Harbin shows the Zimbabwe schoolchildren the doll he bought during a live video conference Friday morning as Tinashe Basa, a nonprofit director, watches on. (Credit: Paul Squire)

“What do you do for fun?” the girl in Aquebogue asked.

“Do you have pets?” the boy in Zimbabwe asked.

“How big is your school?”

“Do you have a garden?”

These questions and more were answered Friday morning when a group of roughly 30 students at the Peconic Community School in Aquebogue met a group of Zimbabwe orphans through a live online video.

The meetup, coordinated by the nonprofit group ZimKids Orphan Trust, was the first time any of the students in Aquebogue had met kids from Africa, as well as the first time the Zimbabwe students had met someone outside their community. The school also hosted Dennis Gaboury, who founded the nonprofit, and its director — Tinashe Basa.

Mr. Gaboury said the video chat would help the young students here on the North Fork learn more about other cultures.

Mr. Basa, who joined the nonprofit group as a teenager, said he was excited to take part in the “culture [ex]change.”

Some of the students bought homemade dolls from Zimbabwe (those proceeds will go to the nonprofit) and played games with Mr. Basa, who told them about what life was like where he grew up.

ZimKids helps orphaned and abandoned children in Zimbabwe by providing schooling and vocational training. Mr. Basa himself was mistreated as a child, and nearly poisoned by some of his relatives who didn’t want to care for him.

“That whole time, it was a life lesson to know that there are kids out there going through the same thing,” he said. “I want to help them.”

psquire@timesreview.com

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River superintendent Steven Cohen and school board president Bill McGrath.

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River superintendent Steven Cohen and school board president Bill McGrath.

The Shoreham-Wading River school board approved a contract worth over $7 million with a worldwide manufacturing company to improve energy-saving measures throughout the district.

Assistant superintendent Glen Arcuri said the contract will pay for itself through resulting energy savings.

Mr. Arcuri explained that the district will borrow the necessary money to pay off the contract.

“It’s a type of a lease arrangement,” he said.

Officials from Honeywell, which recently won the project bid, said in February that making the improvements will save the district more than $250,000 each year on its roughly $1.2 million energy bill.

Improvements would include energy-efficient LED lighting, a “smart” system for heating and cooling and a natural gas line to the high school that would allow the school to use either natural gas or oil, depending on which fuel was cheaper.

The district will use those energy savings to pay off the entirety of the lease, Mr. Arcuri said. If the district doesn’t save as much as projected, Honeywell will have to cover the difference between what they promised and what they delivered, he added.

The state education department will next review the scope of the work to ensure that the district gets “maximum savings,” Mr. Arcuri said.

If the state determines that the district won’t break even on the deal, they will refuse to issue the site plans.

11/05/2014 12:12 PM
A view of two of Shoreham's tennis courts last spring, which have become unplayable after years of neglect. (Credit: Joe Werkmeister, file)

A view of two of Shoreham’s tennis courts last spring, which have become unplayable after years of neglect. (Credit: Joe Werkmeister, file)

It’s official: The Shoreham-Wading River bond proposition is going to the polls.

At its meeting Tuesday night, the district’s school board unanimously approved the vote on a $48 million bond proposal for Jan. 13, the earliest board members said it was possible.  (more…)

11/02/14 10:00am
11/02/2014 10:00 AM
Head Start teacher Kevin Rojas helps distribute books to students at Riverhead Free Library on Thursday. (Credit: Jen Nuzzo photos)

Head Start teacher Kevin Rojas helps distribute books to students at Riverhead Free Library on Thursday. (Credit: Jen Nuzzo photos)

The Riverhead Free Library has donated 800 books to Head Start locations in Riverhead and Southampton in order to increase access to literature for students by creating mini libraries in the schools.

(more…)

11/01/14 2:00pm
11/01/2014 2:00 PM
Shoreham-Wading River School District Superintendent Steven Cohen, left, and school board president Bill McGrath. (Credit: Jennifer Gustavson)

Shoreham-Wading River School District Superintendent Steven Cohen, left, and school board president Bill McGrath. (Credit: Jennifer Gustavson)

The union representing Shoreham-Wading River School District’s administrators received a four-year contract extension at last month’s school board meeting, granting the faculty members three percent raises this year, followed by smaller raises over the next two years before no increase in the contract’s final year.

In addition, eligibility for retirement incentives for union members was reduced from 12 to 10 years.

According to the terms of the deal, which was OK’d at the district’s Oct. 21 meeting, raises this year don’t apply to administrators hired for the 2014-2015 school year. For the 2015-2016, and 2016-2017 school years, members of the union will receive a 1.5 percent raise.

“I think that the district and the administrators’ association came together to settle a contract so that our schools could move forward and the kids could benefit from everything,” said union president Linda Anthony, principal of Prodell Middle School. “And it was positive that it was settled early in the year.”

The union has 11 members: principals at each of the district’s four buildings, assistant principals at the middle school and high school, and directors of athletics, technology, special education, humanities, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

The contract comes after the previous deal held by the union expired at the end of June this year. That deal had lasted three years, held salaries flat in its final year, and upped employee contributions to healthcare from 15 to 20 percent for new members, and 15 to 17.5 percent for existing members.

Board of Education President Bill McGrath said that partly due to those previous contributions, he was happy to sign the new deal.

“Basically, we were pleased with it from the point of view that we value these members and they’ve already increased their healthcare contribution,” he said. “And we’re trying to be as fiscally prudent as we can in light of everything the state government is doing with public education.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was updated on Monday, Nov. 3, with comment from Linda Anthony, president of the administrators’ union.