06/21/13 7:00pm
06/21/2013 7:00 PM
Riverside school in Riverhead

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Phillips Avenue Elementary School students wave goodbye to teachers and other faculty members Friday, the last day of the 2012-13 school year.

Riverhead elementary school students said their last good-byes to teachers and fellow students Friday afternoon.

Phillips Avenue Elementary held its traditional “clap off” event, with students and teachers lining the school’s hallways, clapping and waving as the fourth graders, who are moving up to Pulaski Street Elementary School, marched by.

Phillips principal Debra Rodgers and associate principal Stephen Hudson said goodbye to 562 students.

04/09/13 6:00am
TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | Phillips Avenue Elementary School in Riverside.

TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | Suffolk County officials recently determined the Riverhead School District improperly subdivided a 1.5-acre lot from Phillips Avenue Elementary School in Riverside.

The Riverhead school board is expected to vote on a pair of resolutions at its regular meeting tonight to correct a an error made nearly 20 years ago.

According to Superintendent Nancy Carney, when the district sought to get Suffolk County health department permits for the planned kitchen renovations at the Phillips Avenue Elementary School in Riverside, it discovered the adjacent Long Island Head Start  property had never been properly subdivided with the county when the town deeded that land over to Head Start back in 1994.

The district originally owned the 1.5-acre piece of property where Head Start, a nonprofit group that provides child development programing, now sits.

The district retained ownership of  about 15 adjacent acres on the Phillips Avenue campus.

“We sold it to them for practically nothing,” Ms. Carney said of the Head Start land.  The lots are listed as being subdivided in Southampton Town tax maps, but not by county records.

The school district is undertaking kitchen renovations in the Phillips Avenue and Riley Avenue schools that were part of a voter-approved bond act a few years ago. The resolution Tuesday merely begins the formal subdivision process with the county for the two properties.

The board’s agenda for Tuesday’s meeting includes resolutions declaring the school board as lead agency in the review of the application, and adopting a resolution declaring that no environmental impact study is needed for the subdivision.

The issue, Ms. Carney said, is unrelated to a plan discussed at the March 19 school board meeting in which she proposed a long-term proposal that would see the district’s dilapidated bus barn at its main campus leveled and replaced with a new garage and maintenance facility outside Phillips Avenue Elementary School.

Ms. Carney will also continue her preliminary 2013-14 budget presentation tonight to review the district’s revenues, projected tax levy and provide an overview of the total tentative spending plan.

The school board is expected to adopt the budget April 23.

There are also several personnel items listed on the meeting’s agenda, including assistant superintendent Lois Etzel’s retirement in June and athletic supervisor Louis Vecchio’s resignation effective March 21.

The public portion of tonight’s meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the high school auditorium.

Additional reporting by Tim Gannon.

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Riverhead school board agenda, April 9, 2013

10/23/12 11:03pm

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Civil service union president Arlene Chastaine hands out a gift to board president Ann Cotten-Degrasse during a school board appreciation moment Tuesday night.

New allowances and change orders for school bond construction work at Phillips Avenue School in Riverside were unanimously approved by the Riverhead school board at its meeting Tuesday night.

The roughly $34,000 in allowances were made because of complications discovered during excavations around the school, school officials said.

The allowances will be paid for by a $40,000 allowance already factored into the bond cost.

The first allowance is for the installation of six new drainage pools near the school’s new front parking lot after site demolition revealed that drainage pools that were believed to be at the site did not actually exist.

The total cost for the additional pools is $20,882, according to the board’s resolution.

The second allowance, a $13,224 expenditure, is to remove large concrete footings discovered under the existing cobblestone curbing along the roadway at the school property.

The footings had to be removed in order to install the new concrete sidewalk, school officials said.

The three change orders to work at Phillips Avenue will cost the district $1,663 in the end.

The first change order will cost $17,752 to pour additional concrete near the back driveway of the school; however, a second change order will save the district $16,089.50 since the wood blocking in the roof of the school is in better repair than originally thought.

The final change order will cost nothing, after the general contractor offered to remove other concrete footings around the parking lot at no cost to offset the reduced cost of demolishing an abandoned electrical vault that was easier than anticipated.

The board also celebrated School Board Recognition Week, as district administrators and union officials gave the board gifts and thanked them for their services.

The district gave board members large gift baskets filled with vegetables and fruits from local farms, while union reps handed out small gift bags to each member.

“These are extraordinarily challenging times to be a member of a board of education,” superintendent Nancy Carney said, “… most particularly having to make very very difficult decisions that oftentimes you don’t want to make as a board of education or as an educator.”

Ms. Carney said the board members have “their hearts all in the right place,” adding that each care about students first.

Riverhead Central Faculty Association president Barbara Barosa also spoke.

“We don’t always agree, but I do realize how hard you work, how much time you give up, how devoted and dedicated you have to be to be in this,” she said.

Riverhead school board president Ann Cotten-Degrasse thanked the administrators and teachers for the cake and pies that were served before the board meeting to board members.

“It’s almost better than Christmas,” she joked as gifts were handed out at the board table. “It’s really a privilege working with these people and working with all of you.”

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09/04/12 2:30pm
Smithtown Guide Dog Foundation, Phillips Avenue School

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Phillips Avenue principal Debra Rodgers (left) with black lab pup McAuley and puppy trainer Barbara Salmiery of Southold.

Classes in Riverhead Central School District start Wednesday.

But teachers and dogs reported for duty today, Tuesday.

Well, one dog.

Phillips Avenue Elementary School principal Debra Rodgers welcomed back McAuley, a guide dog in training from the Smithtown Guide Dog Foundation.

McAuley is being raised by school nurse Barbara Salmiery of Southold.

The female black lab had been coming to the school daily last Dec. 1, when she was just seven weeks old.

“Boy does she love kids,” Ms. Salmiery said. “When she hears a child’s voice she is at attention. She is so glad to be back at school.”

Ms. Salmiery said she had noticed McAuley was bored this summer, and that the socialization and handling the pup received at the school was important.

“I couldn’t have done it without Ms. Rodgers’ help,” she said.

The principal said the dog has totally changed the climate at the school, adding that the dog has a calming effect on the children.

McAuley should be done with the program in the early spring, when she is returned to the foundation for advanced training, ultimately to be placed with someone with disabilities.

Meanwhile, Construction on the new parking lot/ drop-off area in front of the school is complete, and construction on the new and enlarged, “21st century” library with more computer stations and specialized learning centers is under way.

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Phillips Avenue Elementary School, Riverhead School District

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Work under way at the new Phillips library.