06/04/2014 11:33 AM
Shoreham-Wading River superintendent Steven Cohen (left) and school board members Bill McGrath and John Zukowski at last night's school board meeting. (Credit: Jennifer Gustavson)

Shoreham-Wading River superintendent Steven Cohen (left) and school board members Bill McGrath and John Zukowski at last night’s school board meeting. (Credit: Jennifer Gustavson)

Less than a year after she was named principal at Miller Avenue Elementary School, Patricia Nugent was fired Tuesday night after the Shoreham-Wading River school board approved Superintendent Steven Cohen’s recommendation to deny her tenure.  (more…)

08/20/13 12:00pm
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO  |  Jack Costas (Center) discusses the new requirements to have proposition construction worked approved by the state at Tuesday night's meeting.

PAUL SQUIRE FILE PHOTO | The Shoreham-Wading River school board is expected to discuss a proposed reorganization plan Tuesday night.

The Shoreham-Wading River school board is expected to continue its discussion tonight of  a plan to reorganize the district’s elementary schools.

The proposal would divide students, with all kindergarteners going to Briarcliff school, grades 1-3 attending school at Miller Avenue and grades 4 and 5 moving to the Wading River school. The proposal is known as the “Princeton Plan.”

In addition, the school board is expected to replace William Bushman, assistant superintendent for human resources, with current assistant superintendent Lou Curra on an interim basis.

Last Tuesday, the Smithtown school board appointed Mr. Bushman as the district’s new assistant superintendent for pupil personnel services.

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

Shoreham-Wading River school board meeting agenda, Aug. 20, 2013

06/16/2013 3:00 PM
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Miller Avenue parents and teachers rallying for popular principal Louis Parrinello

PAUL SQUIRE FILE PHOTO | Miller Avenue parents and teachers rallying for popular principal Louis Parrinello

One week after the Shoreham-Wading River school board’s controversial vote to switch the principals of two elementary schools, dozens of parents spoke out against the decision at the board’s regular meeting earlier this week.

And though district officials did offer some explanations for the switch — including a potential reorganization of the district to eventually turn Briarcliff into a kindergarten-only school — some parents were still unhappy with the move’s sudden announcement and what they saw as a lack of transparency by the district.

At their meeting last week, the board voted unanimously to move Miller Avenue principal Louis Parrinello to Briarcliff Elementary School in exchange for that school’s current principal, Patricia Nugent. The measure, added onto the agenda before the meeting, drew harsh criticism from hundreds of parents who filled the high school auditorium to protest the change.

At the time, parents demanded to know the reason for the switch, but district officials said they couldn’t comment on “personnel matters.”

At Tuesday’s meeting, Mr. Parrinello was the first to take the podium in support of the board’s decision.

“From last week to this week it’s been a whirlwind, and it wasn’t easy for anyone, on our end or on your end,” he told the parents. “But in looking at it, it’s in the best interests of our district.”

Superintendent Steven Cohen said the district is planning ahead to the day when current Wading River Elementary School principal Steve Donohue retires. The district could then not fill Mr. Donohue’s position and save over $100,000 a year. Under that plan, first grade would be moved from Briarcliff to Wading River and Miller Avenue schools, and Briarcliff would be made into a kindergarten with no principal. Mr. Parrinello would then be moved to Wading River.

District officials stressed that the move was made in the best interests of the district’s children.

Mr. Parrinello said he was “humbled” by the support he had received from parents, but he stressed that Ms. Nugent deserves support and that parents should get behind the move and think positively.

Though the speech diffused much of the animosity in the room, some parents still demanded to know exactly why the switch was made.

After some heated discussion, board member John Zukowski — who was not at the previous meeting — explained that due to the tax levy cap, there was a projected $6 million gap in next year’s budget.

“That is in the back of every decision we need to make,” he said, adding the board is bound by state law not to discuss specific personnel matters.

“If that makes people unhappy, I apologize for that, but I’m not violating my oath as a trustee,” Mr. Zukowski said.

He also said he was disgusted by rumors that were spreading among parents about the reasons for the move, saying the administrators involved deserved better.

But while the most vocal parents in attendance accepted the move, some said afterward they were disappointed by the way it was handled and said they could not understand the logic behind the move.

“We sort of felt like we were left in the dark,” said parent Jeannie Spuhler. “[If] this was something that was proposed and maybe thrown out to the public, we could have had a discussion about it and it wouldn’t have been so heated the other night. It would have more thoughtful.”

psquire@timesreview.com

06/05/2013 2:30 PM
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Parents and teachers rallying for popular principal Louis Parrinello.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Parents and teachers rallying for popular principal Louis Parrinello Tuesday.

More than 200 Shoreham-Wading River parents and school staffers flooded the high school auditorium at Tuesday night’s school board meeting to protest a planned transfer of a popular elementary school principal to a different school in the district.

Despite urging from the audience to reconsider the move and threats of voter retribution, the board voted unanimously to move Louis Parrinello from Miller Avenue Elementary School to Briarcliff Elementary School in exchange for current Briarcliff principal, Patricia Nugent.

School officials said they understood the move was not popular, but explained that the transfer fit into the district’s long-term plans to preserve student services.

“We have to plan for administrative turnover,” said district Superintendent Steven Cohen. “We need to find ways to eliminate unneeded administrative positions to save money to preserve our programs.”

School officials would not go into further details about how the transfer of principals plays a role in the district’s plans. For more than an hour during an extended public comment section of the meeting, parents of Miller Avenue students praised Mr. Parrinello for his caring work with his students, and said the sudden switch of principals “flies in the face of logic” while demanding answers.

“My question to the Board of Education is, ‘Why?’ ” said district parent Lisa Julian, to a standing ovation. “Why would you make such a dramatic change in such a successful school?” Some members of the audience carried signs that read “Mr. Parrinello IS Miller Avenue” and recited sayings he would use to motivate kids in the school.

The crowd quickly grew frustrated when the board said it “couldn’t comment on personnel matters” because of state law.

One of the last speakers held a moment of silence with his last minute of talking time to “recognize the arrogance and stupidity of this decision.” After a moment, the parent shouted, “Mr. P, I love you. Good luck!”

Mr. Parrinello, who attends most Board of Education meetings, sat in the fifth row of the auditorium and spoke to parents and faculty as they patted him on the back and shook his hand after the transfer was finalized.

He declined to comment on the move.

psquire@timesreview.com