05/19/15 12:00pm
05/19/2015 12:00 PM

BOEOne incumbent and four challengers are running for two Riverhead school board seats that are up for grabs Tuesday night.

Incumbent and board vice president Susan Koukounas is facing former board president Ann Cotten-DeGrasse, past candidates Greg Fischer and Laurie Downs and newcomer Brad Harnig. (more…)

04/21/15 10:01am
04/21/2015 10:01 AM
Former Riverhead school board president Ann Cotten-DeGrasse is running for school board this May. (Credit: Jen Nuzzo, file)

Former Riverhead school board president Ann Cotten-DeGrasse is running for school board this May. (Credit: Jen Nuzzo, file)

Ann Cotten-DeGrasse wants her seat back and some familiar names will oppose her.

The former Riverhead school board president is among four challengers facing one incumbent for two open seats in next month’s election along with past candidates Greg Fischer and Laurie Downs, newcomer Brad Harnig, and incumbent board vice president Susan Koukounas.

Trustee Tom Carson is not seeking a second term, paving the way for at least one seat to change hands.

Ms. Cotten-DeGrasse served on the school board for six years before stepping away last June. She announced in 2013 during her Democratic primary campaign for town supervisor that she would not seek re-election at the end of her second school board term in 2014.

“As much as I thought I was going to back off and walk away, I just can’t,” Ms. Cotten-DeGrasse said when asked why she’s decided to run again. “There’s a whole lot of things that are out there that have to be overcome because of what’s happening with the state and state aid being tied into [teacher evaluations].”

As for her feelings about running against her former fellow school board members, Ms. Cotten-DeGrasse said, “I feel it will shake out the way it will shake out.”

Mr. Fischer said he believes the odds are in favor of the incumbent Ms. Koukounas and Ms. Cotten-DeGrasse, a former president of the teacher’s union. He said with likely support from the teachers, the other three candidates will likely struggle to get votes.

“It’s an uphill battle,” he said.

Mr. Fischer knows all about that, having run unsuccessfully for six different offices in the past eight years, including school board last year.

If elected, he said he will explore ways to modernize the current curriculum in the district to offer more trade and business entrepreneurship programs. He also said he has developed his own programs that he would offer district students independently and free of charge.

“I have one program for inventors that I’m hoping to run in June,” he said. “Any kid who is interested in inventing can become a billionaire.”

Ms. Downs said that she is a unique candidate because she represents no particular special interests. A longtime district watchdog, she said she values no one program over another, has no ties to any school unions and her children have already graduated from the district.

“I have no agenda other than doing what I’m supposed to do as far as being open to the community,” she said. “I want to make sure the public is informed about what’s going on with the district.”

A longtime attendee of school board meetings, she said that hasn’t always been the case with the board.

“What I see on the outside is the board is still not talking to people and not giving answers,” she said. “You ask a question and they stare at you.”

Ms. Koukonas, Mr. Carson and Mr. Harnig could not be immediately reached for comment.

In Shoreham-Wading River, incumbents Michael Fucito and Robert Rose are running unopposed.

Mr. Fucito has served for over two decades Mr. Rose was first elected in 2012.

The school board election and budget vote is May 19 in both districts. All school board seats are for three years, expiring in 2018.

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06/28/14 5:00am
06/28/2014 5:00 AM
(Credit: Jennifer Gustavson)

Riverhead school board vice president Greg Meyer honoring Ann Cotten-DeGrasse Tuesday night. (Credit: Jennifer Gustavson)

Ann Cotten-DeGrasse was congratulated Tuesday night for six years of service on the board. She was hired as a business teacher by the district in 1966 and served as president for the Riverhead Central Faculty Association before retiring in 1997.


10/22/13 12:00pm
10/22/2013 12:00 PM


Riverhead School District Superintendent Nancy Carney is expected to give a presentation about Common Core practices within English Language Arts and math in grades kindergarten through second grade, according to Tuesday night’s school board meeting agenda.

For the first time this past April, the state’s ELA and math assessments included elements of what’s known as the Common Core State Standards Initiative. The Common Core is a new set of national standards designed to raise the bar for classroom instruction and help “prepare students for college and careers in the 21st century,” state officials say. The initiative primarily requires instructors to teach more non-fiction and more rigorous math to students at a younger age.

In addition to Common Core, the school board is expected to discuss its budget-planning timeline for the 2014-15 school year.

On Jan. 14, the school board will go over its tentative budget goals and will hold a special meeting Jan. 21 to discuss personnel issues in executive session.

Ms. Carney is then expected to hold the following budget presentations:

Feb. 11: General support, benefits and debt service

Feb. 25: Regular day school budget, transportation and facilities

March 11: Special education, PPS, guidance and other instructional items

March 25: Revenue and tax levy

April 8: Tentative budget

The school board is expected to adopt the 2014-15 spending plan by April 22 and release it to the public by May 2.

The final budget hearing is set for May 13 — one week before the vote.

As for the school board race, president Ann Cotten-DeGrasse, vice president Greg Meyer and member Kimberly Ligon are up for reelection. Board of Education candidate petitions are due April 21.

Scroll down to view the complete agenda. Check back for an update.

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Riverhead school board meeting agenda, Oct. 22, 2013

09/21/13 5:25pm
09/21/2013 5:25 PM
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | Riverhead School Board president Ann Cotten-DeGrasse is the East End Women's Network 2013 "Woman of the Year."

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | Riverhead School Board president Ann Cotten-DeGrasse confirmed that the district made a contract offer to its teachers.

The Riverhead Board of Education may vote on a new teacher’s contract at its Tuesday meeting after the district made an offer to its teachers, who have been without a contract for just over a year.

Board of Education president Ann Cotten-DeGrasse confirmed today that an offer has been made.

“It’s my understanding that the teachers will ratify it,” she said. “But nothing has been formalized yet.”

She said the leadership of the teachers’ union held meetings with teachers in various school buildings Thursday and Friday. Another meeting is set for Monday.

Ms. Cotten-DeGrasse said that if the teachers’ union ratifies the agreement, it will likely be voted on at Tuesday night’s Board of Education meeting.

Lisa Goulding, the new president of the Riverhead Central Faculty Association, which represents district teachers, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Ms. Cotten-DeGrasse said that while the district has made an offer, she is not at liberty to disclose any details.

The district’s last teacher contract ran from July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2012. (The school’s fiscal year starts in July.)

That contract gave teachers a one percent increase for the first six months of both years with no step/increment increases, and another one percent increase for the second six months of both years, with step/increment increases.

The step/increment raises are in addition to the base salary raises teachers get annually according to the terms of their contract and are based on experience and other factors, such as whether they have a bachelor’s or master’s degree and how many graduate credits they have.

The last Riverhead teachers’ contract had a salary scale with 30 steps.

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09/10/13 6:30pm
09/10/2013 6:30 PM
GRANT PARPAN PHOTO | Councilwoman Jodi Giglio celebrates her primary election win with fellow Town Board members James Wooten (left) and George Gabrielsen.

GRANT PARPAN PHOTO | Councilwoman Jodi Giglio celebrates her primary election win with fellow Town Board members James Wooten (left) and George Gabrielsen.

Riverhead Town Democratic Committee nominee Angela DeVito beat challenger Ann Cotten-DeGrasse by 501 to 229 votes in the primary race for the Democrats’ supervisor nod Tuesday.

In the at-large Republican race for two Town Council nominations, Jodi Gilgio was the top vote-getter with 912, followed by John Dunleavy with 878 and Anthony Coates with 484, according to the county Board of Elections.

And in the Independence Party primary for Town Council, Ms. Giglio led the three-candidate pack with 68 votes, followed by Democratic nominee Bill Bianchi with 65 and Mr. Dunleaby with 37. That was also an at-large race.

The News-Review had reporters at all the candidates’ camps and reported live from 8:30 p.m. The polls closed at 9 p.m.

Click below for the live reports, including quotes, photos and reactions from the candidates and supporters.

Riverhead voters head to the polls on primary day

Brief bios on primary candidates for town office

Republican rivals square off at primary debate

Supervisor hopefuls on how they would run town

09/09/13 8:00am
09/09/2013 8:00 AM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | (L-R) Anthony Coates, John Dunleavy and Jodi Giglio at Monday's debate.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | (L-R) Anthony Coates, John Dunleavy and Jodi Giglio at an Aug. 26 debate

Voters in Riverhead Town who are registered with the Republican, Democratic or Independence parties will head to the polls on Tuesday for primary day.

Below is a brief biography of each of the candidates.


Angela DeVito

Angela DeVito

Hamlet: South Jamesport

Occupation: Retired

Primary Race: Democratic

Angela DeVito, 65, is the committee nominee for supervisor. She is a longtime workplace safety advocate with related degrees from Columbia University and the University of Utah School of Medicine. She retired in 2000 from a NYS health department occupational medicine program at SUNY/Stony Brook and then served as director of workforce development for the Building and Construction Trades Council of Nassau and Suffolk counties. She is an active civic leader who has served on the town Industrial Development Agency and the Riverhead school board.

Ellen A. Cotten-DeGrasse

Ellen A. Cotten-DeGrasse

Hamlet: Jamesport

Occupation: Retired teacher

Primary Race: Democratic

Supervisor hopeful Ellen A. Cotten-DeGrasse, 70, also known as Ann, taught at Riverhead High School for 32 years before retiring in 1997. During her time in the district she served as the head of the teacher’s union, Riverhead Central Faculty Association, from 1992 to 1997. She is the current president of the Riverhead Board of Education, to which she was first elected in 2008. She’s also a co-founder of the North Forth Breast Health Coalition, a charity and advocacy group that assists breast cancer patients.


John Dunleavy

John Dunleavy

Hamlet: Calverton

Occupation: Retired police officer

Primary Race: Republican, Independence

Republican incumbent and committee nominee John Dunleavy, 72, is running for a third four-year term as a town councilman. Mr. Dunleavy is a U.S. Navy veteran and former Grumman Corporation employee who later joined the Riverhead Town police department where he came to head the department’s juvenile aid bureau for 15 years before retiring in 1988. He then worked in banking until 2007. Mr. Dunleavy was first elected councilman in 2006.

Jodi Giglio

Jodi Giglio

Hamlet: Baiting Hollow

Occupation: Owner of Bennett Enterprises

Primary Race: Republican, Independence

Republican incumbent and committee nominee Jodi Giglio, 45, is running for her second four-year term as a town councilwoman. Ms. Giglio has a business background, which includes relocating corporate executives for United Van Lines and serving as an on-site construction superintendent for a Long Island townhouse project. She owns and runs Bennett Enterprises, which assists landowners with residential and commercial applications.

Anthony Coates

Anthony Coates

Hamlet: Riverhead

Occupation: Investment consultant

Primary Race: Republican

Republican challenger Anthony Coates, 52, is seeking his first term in public office. He’s been active in public service since age 16, when he was an aide to a county legislator. He helped run a home heating oil company and is a former publisher of the Record newspapers, which were based in Port Jefferson. He’s also been a political adviser to local and nationally elected officials and worked as a financial portfolio manager.

Bill Bianchi

Bill Bianchi

Hamlet: Riverhead

Occupation: Owner of Bianchi-Davis Greenhouses

Primary Race: Independence

Democratic committee nominee Bill Bianchi, 82, is a former Bellport resident who served as a state assemblyman from 1972 to 1994. Mr. Bianchi got started in public service as a South Country school board member and president. He then was part of a lawsuit that effectively ended the county’s Board of Supervisors in favor of a Legislature. He’s worked continually in the orchid business and co-owns orchid greenhouses off Doctors Path.

*Sources: the candidates

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