04/08/14 7:00am
04/08/2014 7:00 AM
Riverhead High School

Riverhead School District officials have confirmed 217 refusals out of 2,218 students in grades 3 through 8, or 9.8 percent of students, opted out of last week’s state assessments. (Credit: News-Review, file)

The Riverhead School District saw a bump in students declining to participate in last week’s English Language Arts assessments, which were administered last Wednesday through Friday.

“Many came in the last two days,” said Riverhead Superintendent Nancy Carney.


03/26/14 11:51am
03/26/2014 11:51 AM

Riverhead School Board members Thomas Carson (left), Amelia Lantz and Susan Koukounas at Tuesday night’s meeting.

Riverhead School District Superintendent Nancy Carney has proposed a $120.7 million budget for the 2014-15 school year that carries an estimated 2.4 percent increase to the tax levy — the allowable rate under the state’s year-to-year tax cap law — and doesn’t cut any programs.  (more…)

03/22/14 11:57am
03/22/2014 11:57 AM
A fourth-grade

A fourth-grade Phillips Avenue teacher was revived by EMTs and volunteers in the Riverhead High School gym during Friday night’s Crazy Sports Night event. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)

Hours after he collapsed at Riverhead High School’s Crazy Sports Night and was revived by a team of Riverhead EMTs and medical volunteers from the crowd, Phillips Avenue teacher Lonnie Hughes is in good condition Saturday morning, school officials said.

“He’s OK … He was smiling, joking around,” said Superintendent Nancy Carney. “The police and the EMTs were great.” (more…)

03/12/14 2:00pm
03/12/2014 2:00 PM
Residents are asking the Riverhead School District to allow Calverton Hills students to attend nearby Riley Avenue Elementary School.  Parents say the community was required to send its children to Phillips Avenue Elementary School in Riverside after the neighborhood was redistricted in the late 1990s. (Credit: Google Map screenshot by Jennifer Gustavson)

The Calverton Hills community was redistricted several years ago that moved the community’s children from Riley Avenue Elementary School in Calverton to Phillips Avenue Elementary School in Riverside. (Credit: Google Map screenshot by Jennifer Gustavson)

Years after the Riverhead School District moved elementary students living in the Calverton Hills community from Riley Avenue School to Phillips Avenue School, residents are still wondering why their kids have to travel to Riverside, which is farther away, when there’s a school closer to them in Calverton.  (more…)

03/11/14 12:17pm
03/11/2014 12:17 PM

Riverhead School District Superintendent Nancy Carney is expected to give a budget presentation Tuesday night. (Credit: Jennifer Gustavson, file)

Riverhead School District Superintendent Nancy Carney is expected to give a budget presentation at Tuesday night’s regular school board meeting to discuss special education, guidance and pupil personnel service expenses projected for the 2014-15 school year. (more…)

02/26/14 12:00pm
02/26/2014 12:00 PM
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | Riverhead superintendent Nancy Carney speaks at a school board meeting.

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | Riverhead superintendent Nancy Carney speaks at a school board meeting.

While an overall increase in Riverhead School District’s 2014-2015 budget remains unknown at this time, Superintendent Nancy Carney reported that “the bulk” of the budget — regular school day expenses, transportation and facility costs — is expected to increase just over 3 percent next year.

During Tuesday night’s school board meeting, Ms. Carney gave her second presentation on part of the district’s budget, following a meeting in the middle of February about the debt obligations the district is facing. She has stated that her main goal in crafting next year’s spending plan is to stay under the state-mandated two percent tax levy cap.

Most of the budget is in general classroom teaching, instruction and support expenses, she said, which are projected to total $38.4 million in 2014-15. That’s a nearly a 3.23 percent increase over the current school year, she said.

“We’re in good place going into the 2014-15 school year,” the superintendent said. “I appreciate all the work the staff has done in the district in being very fiscally responsible and trying to present a budget that is very fair to the taxpayers, as well as preserving our programs.”

Although most of the increases are contractual, Ms. Carney said the Riverhead Charter School budget line is expected to increase by about 18.5 percent, totaling about $2.5 million in tuition costs. The spike is the result of the charter school receiving approval in March to expand its K-6 program through eighth grade.

Under the curriculum, instructional administration and state-mandated testing budget, Ms. Carney estimates about $4.1 million in expenses, a nearly .35 percent decrease compared to the current spending plan. Most of the decrease is a result of more projects in house as opposed to contracting out for services. Another cost savings projected for next year is with material and supplies because the district is using more digital materials as opposed to printing them on paper.

The facilities and security budget is up slightly by .84 percent, totaling about $8.1 million, and transportation expenses will realize a 2.4 percent savings over the current $5.8 million budget due to the district reorganizing its bus routes.

The school board is expected to adopt the spending plan on April 22. The budget vote is set for May 20 from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at local polling locations.

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02/12/14 8:00am
02/12/2014 8:00 AM
Riverhead School District Superintendent Nancy Carney, standing, gave a budget presentation Tuesday night. (Photo by Jennifer Gustavson)

Riverhead School District Superintendent Nancy Carney, standing, gave a budget presentation Tuesday night. (Photo by Jennifer Gustavson)

The Riverhead School District’s first debt service payment for the 2011 voter-approved capital improvement bond is due next fiscal year and is expected to increase the 2014-15 budget by about $2.8 million, Superintendent Nancy Carney said Tuesday night.


01/15/14 9:00am
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Pulaski Street School literacy coach Amy Brennan, left, and principal Dave Densieski at Tuesday night's school board meeting.

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Pulaski Street School literacy coach Amy Brennan, left, and principal Dave Densieski at Tuesday night’s school board meeting.

Pulaski Street School students are learning to read “closely” by using more social studies materials than in previous years under the rigorous new English Language Arts curriculum mandated by the state.

Pulaski Street School principal Dave Densieski and literacy coach Amy Brennan gave a presentation Tuesday night about how Common Core in ELA is being implemented in the district’s fifth- and sixth-grade classrooms. The presentation, at the school board’s regular meeting, was the fourth Common Core discussion this school year.

Ms. Brennan said students are not only reading more non-fiction, but are also answering questions about what they’ve learned based on the reading materials.

“Close reading is not new,” she said. “It’s just really popular now. It’s a hot topic because Common Core puts such an emphasis on it.”

Close reading involves students carefully rereading text to fully understand the meaning and requiring the students to precisely attribute where they found their answers.

Mr. Densieski said he believes the academic transition from fifth to sixth grade is the most demanding for students and teachers are using the new lesson plans to help students achieve higher standards.

“Thinking is tough and it’s hard work sometimes,” he said. “It is a struggle to think problems out and to think deeper and to think critically, but that is what we’re being asked to do.”

The Common Core State Standards have been adopted by most states across the country and aim to better prepare students for college and careers by requiring instructors to teach more non-fiction and rigorous math to students at a younger age.

After New York adopted Common Core, the state published lesson plans teachers can use to help students achieve the new standards. The state doesn’t mandate use of these lesson plans, but they are available online at engageny.org.

Ms. Brennan said the school is using two of the state’s ELA Common Core modules this year. In fifth grade, teachers are using a module entitled “Becoming a Close Reader and Writing to Learn: Stories of Human Rights.” Under that lesson plan, the books students will read include “Esperanza Rising” by Pam Munoz Ryan.

As for the new sixth-grade module, she said teachers are using a lesson plan about Greek mythology.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, parents expressed concern about increasing rigor at Pulaski Street School because they believe the classes are too large. Mr. Densieski had said during his presentation that class size ranges from 25 to 28 students and teachers are receiving professional development to help customize instruction to their classrooms.
Parents also asked about the repercussions when children do not take the Common Core assessments, a movement known as “opting out.”

Superintendent Nancy Carney dismissed the term, saying that “opting out” isn’t an option for the test. A student’s name is printed on each assessment and presented to them at the start of the exam, she said.

Asked what happens if a student refuses to take the assessment, Ms. Carney said each situation will be handled individually.

She said the district isn’t allowed to give those students other work to do during the test and they might be asked to remain at their seat or move to another available room to read.
If a student is absent on the day when an assessment is given, Ms. Carney said, the test will be presented to the student again the following day when he or she returns to school. If the student decides not to take the assessment, she said, those students “won’t receive a score.”

Ms. Carney said although the district respects a parent’s decision, she recommends that students take the assessments because she believes doing so will help them academically.

“We do encourage people to take assessments simply for the fact that the more familiar students get with assessments, the better they’re going to get at taking the assessments,” she said. “Eventually, you do need to pass assessments in order to graduate.”

A presentation about how Common Core math is being implemented in fifth and sixth grade is scheduled for the next school board meeting on Jan. 28.

Ms. Carney said the district also plans to host a public forum to discuss Common Core and to address any concerns residents have about the district’s curriculum. She attributed the idea to parent Yolanda Thompson, who suggested at last month’s board meeting that a committee be created to enhance dialogue between the district and community.


The superintendent also gave an update on current construction projects and said facility improvements remain on schedule.

Projects at Phillips Avenue, Riley Avenue and Aquebogue elementary schools are in the final stages of construction and have a few punch list items remaining.

At the high school, she said, the new library is expected to open soon, the large group instruction room will be ready by Monday and the new science research lab will be completed in the next few weeks. The auditorium and four bathrooms have already been renovated, she said.

Construction is expected to get underway at Pulaski Street and Roanoke Avenue elementary schools and at the middle school sometime in the summer or fall, she said.

The projects are being paid for through a $78.3 million construction bond project voters approved in 2011.


For the first time, the Riverhead school board meeting was conducted “virtually” through a new online system called BoardDocs, which enables the district clerk to track meeting progress and summarize discussion in real time on a large screen behind the school board members. The software also allows board members to display a three-minute timer during the public comment portion of the meeting, which alerts speakers when their allotted time is up.

Each board member was also given Think Pads in order to follow along with the digital agenda.
In addition, BoardDocs allows the district to post and organize notices, agendas and other information online.

For more information about BoardDocs software, visit the district’s website or http://www.boarddocs.com/ny/rcsd/Board.nsf/Public

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