11/19/14 8:00am
11/19/2014 8:00 AM
School board member Lori Hulse speaks at Tuesday night's meeting. (Credit: Jen Nuzzo)

School board member Lori Hulse speaks at Tuesday night’s meeting. (Credit: Jen Nuzzo)

While Riverhead school superintendent Nancy Carney currently has the authority to approve contracts under $25,000 without school board approval, one member of the Board of Education wants to change that.  (more…)

11/15/14 12:25pm
11/15/2014 12:25 PM
A shooting 'victim' is escorted from Riley Avenue Elementary School during Saturday morning's active shooter drill. (Credit: Michael White)

A shooting ‘victim’ is escorted from Riley Avenue Elementary School during Saturday morning’s active shooter drill. (Credit: Michael White)

David Wicks said he couldn’t help but get a bit emotional during Saturday’s active shooter drill in Calverton, where police and ambulance workers simulated a mass shooting inside Riley Avenue Elementary School.

About 70 high school students and other volunteers also participated in the drill, during which two people were “killed,” and several others were dragged from the school or carried out, fake-bloodied and bandaged.

A Suffolk police helicopter also landed in a nearby field.

“It was very real for me; I had chills,” said Mr. Wicks, a Riverhead School District assistant superintendent. “I felt myself getting emotional. The real sobering thing is how much time can pass before help gets here.

“But it made me feel good because our lockdown procedures do help.”

(More photos below) (more…)

11/09/2014 12:00 PM
Credit: Patrick W. Moore

Credit: Patrick W. Moore

One concerned grandmother went before the school board Tuesday night, railing against what she called a “secretive” decision to install a solar panel plant on a sod farm across the street from the district middle school.

Michelle Sterling of Shoreham said she was disgusted by the Town of Brookhaven, which she claimed approved the sod farm solar plant without informing residents or the district.

Residents have complained to other boards in recent months: namely Brookhaven Town Board and Brookhaven Planning Board. The latter unanimously approved plans for the project last month, despite much opposition from neighbors, according to Newsday.

“We went by the codes,” Planning Board Chairman Vincent E. Pascale told the paper. “We did all our checking. We took facts from factual sources.

Board president William McGrath said last week that the Shoreham-Wading River Board of Education was also concerned by the circumstances around the approval of the installation and said the district was “looking into it.”

Ms. Sterling went on to claim that the solar panels would cast radiation onto the district’s students and said “studies” couldn’t prove that the solar panels wouldn’t cause cancer.

“Our children are certainly not going to be the guinea pigs to find out,” she said. The board didn’t comment on those claims.

11/09/14 10:00am
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.

(more…)

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.