06/25/14 10:00am
06/25/2014 10:00 AM
Jeff “Doc” Greenberger, a longtime Latin teacher at Riverhead High School. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder file)

Jeff “Doc” Greenberger, a longtime Latin teacher at Riverhead High School. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder file)

A group of parents have submitted a petition to the Riverhead school board asking the district’s administration to allow the current Latin teachers to teach more sections instead of hiring an additional teacher.

During the school board’s meeting Tuesday, parent Sarah Bowe submitted a copy of an online petition signed by over 100 people asking the district to reconsider hiring a new Latin teacher and allow the program’s current teachers, Jeff ‘Doc’ Greenberger and Lorene Custer, to teach more sections.

“Many students enroll in Latin with the specific intention of being taught by Ms. Custer and Dr. Greenberger and they all deserve that opportunity,” Ms. Bowe said.

The petition states, in part: “We ask that, if at all possible, the district find a way to allow the existing teachers to teach any additional sections that need to be added.  Should that not be possible, we ask that any expansion of the Latin program be undertaken with the full cooperation of the existing teachers, so as to ensure the continued integrity of the program.”

Through Wednesday morning, it had gathered 118 online signatures.

When asked by a parent if the Latin teachers, who are married, were given the opportunity to teach the additional sections, school board president Ann Cotten-DeGrasse said, “It is a contractual matter.”

Assistant superintendent David Wicks said both teachers are on the hiring committee and were also asked to let the district know if they knew of anybody suitable for the position.

06/11/14 11:18am
06/11/2014 11:18 AM
Riverhead superintendent Nancy Carney (left), board president Ann Cotten-DeGrasse and board member Thomas Carson at Tuesday night's meeting. (Credit: Jennifer Gustavson)

Riverhead superintendent Nancy Carney (left), board president Ann Cotten-DeGrasse and board member Thomas Carson at Tuesday night’s meeting. (Credit: Jennifer Gustavson)

Where a school was once destined to go, rows of vines will one day blossom instead.

On Tuesday night, the Riverhead school board voted unanimously to sell 25 acres it owns in Aquebogue to Paumanok Vineyards, a move that will allow the winery to expand operations.  (more…)

03/27/14 8:00am
03/27/2014 8:00 AM


The Riverhead school board voted to upgrade various parts of the school’s infrastructure Tuesday night, approving the use of $456,000 from the district’s capital reserve fund. In addition, they decided to offer the voting public a $3.98 million bond proposition that will be on the May ballot for bus purchases.  (more…)

03/26/14 2:00pm
03/26/2014 2:00 PM
Close to 40 people, including many local veterans, came out in support of a measure to allow tax breaks for veterans in Riverhead School Districts. (Credit: Jen Gustavson)

Last year, the state Legislature approved an amendment to expand the veterans’ tax exemption program to school districts, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law in December.. (Credit: Jen Gustavson)

“When I came home from Vietnam, I couldn’t even get a cab when I was in my uniform. This is a chance, I believe, for the school board to really do the right thing for veterans.”


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.

[email protected]

08/28/13 5:00pm
08/28/2013 5:00 PM

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | School board vice president Greg Meyer (from left), Superintendent Nancy Carney and board president Ann Cotten-DeGrasse voting on resolutions during Tuesday night’s board meeting, at which Ms. Carney spoke at length about more planned construction work for the high school.

Repairs at Riverhead High School costing $1.7 million, which were identified by a community-based committee, were approved at this week’s school board meeting and will get underway alongside other school construction projects currently in progress.

Superintendent Nancy Carney gave a presentation at Tuesday night’s meeting on using the district’s repair-reserve fund for various upgrades at the high school, including replacement of lighting and crumbling concrete in the back plaza courtyard, repair of the south and student parking lots and replacement of a damaged ceiling and lighting in the cafeteria.

Ms. Carney said the needed repairs were identified by the district’s Community Partnership for Revitalization Committee, known as CPR. The volunteer group, made up of district residents and employees, was asked to revise an infrastructure upgrade plan after the district’s proposed bond project was overwhelmingly defeated in 2010. Residents ultimately approved both a scaled-down $78.3 million capital improvement bond project in 2011 and a referendum to establish a repair-reserve fund of up to $5 million to pay for infrastructure upgrades. Capital improvement projects included in the voter-approved bond proposal — such as a new roof, windows, ventilation and electrical systems, science classrooms and additional music and art space — were identified by the CPR committee as a “priority,” and are included in the work through the bond, Ms. Carney said.

The bond project also includes installing a new gym floor and new bleachers, a new auditorium and renovating classrooms to replace the high school’s portable classrooms.

A third “wish list” was created that included items like a turf athletic field, she added.

“In order to have the best buying power and minimize the costs, we had these [secondary] repairs built into the [bond proposal] bidding process as alternates,” Ms. Carney said before the meeting.

Following Ms. Carney’s presentation, the school board closed the public hearing and voted 6-0 to approve the $1.7 million repair-reserve fund expenditure. School board member Amelia Lantz was absent.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, Calverton resident Sal Mastropaolo criticized the school board for voting on the resolution the same night as the public hearing because he believes it doesn’t give the public a fair chance to weigh in on the proposal. He suggested the school board leave the public hearing open for two weeks to allow for written comments.

“There’s only six or eight of us here,” he said, “but yet there are maybe several hundred watching Channel 22 when the meeting comes up.”

Ms. Carney said the school board has the authority to vote on a measure after closing a public hearing.

In addition to discussing work at the high school, the school board approved a change order to replace solar panel and wind power plans from its energy performance contract. The energy performance contract is separate from the bond proposal and repair-reserve fund.

The photovoltaic project had been planned for the high school, middle school and Aquebogue, Phillips Avenue and Riley Avenue elementary schools. The estimated cost per school was $50,000, according to school documents. Also in the plan was a $12,000 wind power generation project at the high school.

The school board agreed Tuesday night to swap out the solar and wind proposals for two walk-in refrigerators at the high school to replace models purchased in the 1970s, and for LED lighting projects at Phillips Avenue and Riley Avenue elementary schools.

According to the school board meeting’s agenda, the solar panel project was canceled due to “capital construction project roof work overlap” and the wind project was removed because the manufacturer is “no longer in business.”

School board president Greg Meyer said the decision to pull the solar panel project from the plan was made in part because of a “timeframe” conflict.

“It’s not like we’re scrapping them,” he said. “Our energy performance contract requires the solar panels be in at a certain time and with our new roofs going in we won’t be able to meet that part of the contract.”

Ms. Carney said after the meeting that the district is looking at its alternative energy options and companies have approached the district about different solar energy projects. Those proposals will be presented to the school board at a future meeting, she said.

[email protected]

05/16/13 8:00am
Riverhead bus barn

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | The bus garage is used for mini-bus storage and houses the Riverhead School District’s transportation and maintenance departments.

To the Editor:

We write in response to critics of our approach to address longstanding structural deficiencies at the bus garage. We understand the anger that some feel about the proposal; and with those concerns in mind, we want to explain our reasoning.

Without a doubt, the existing bus garage will need to be addressed in some way in the near future. As photographs posted on our website show, the 1920 transportation department building is deteriorating. We felt the best way to handle this was through the use of a capital reserve, which functions as a savings account. The reserve allows us to save money over time to address the problem rather than incurring more debt. The savings account is budget neutral and does not increase taxes. Thus, Proposition 1 is on the ballot for your approval.

[Previous Coverage: New school bus barn draws opposition]

There are several options on how to best replace our aging facility. One is to renovate in place. Another is to relocate the facility to a different location, thereby creating athletic fields at the current site. In looking for a new location, we had three criteria. The land needed to be: 1) non-residential; 2) centrally located within our 100-square-mile district; and 3) affordable.

[Previous Coverage: Editorial: Riverhead schools mishandled bus barn planning]

We saw many properties that met the first two criteria, but none that were also affordable. Therefore, we investigated using land far behind the Phillips Avenue School for our facility. Property we already own there is large enough for our buses. Solely in order to move the buses without impacting any residents, we are seeking permission to purchase two small tracts of land between Phillips Avenue and Enterprise Zone Drive, an industrial park on Flanders Road.

Critics of this plan have said that it was not properly studied before going to the voters. We feel, however, that it is improper to spend taxpayer dollars on a study before we know if the voters are in agreement with the idea. The ballot proposition to buy the land is just to secure the option to make that purchase. A traffic study will be the first order of business if Proposition 2 is approved by the voters.

We hope that you will take the time to vote on May 21. We hope you will join us at future Board of Education meetings; and we invite you to attend the many wonderful events occurring at Riverhead Central School District schools.

Riverhead Board of Education Members

To read more letters to the editor, pick up a copy of this week’s Riverhead News-Review or click on the E-Paper.