09/17/14 5:00am
09/17/2014 5:00 AM
The Harlem Wizards pose with Riverhead faculty members at last year's game. (Credit: Riverhead School District)

The Harlem Wizards pose with Riverhead faculty members at last year’s game. (Credit: Riverhead School District)

The Harlem Wizards basketball team will return to Riverhead High School Nov. 19 and the Riverhead Central Faculty Association is currently seeking sponsorships for the event that attracted more than 1,000 people last year.  (more…)

04/12/14 1:00pm
The Riverhead Charter School in Calverton.

The Riverhead Charter School in Calverton.

To the editor:

As educators, few would argue that one’s primary responsibility is to the children entrusted to your care. In order to best meet that massive responsibility, one must come to rely on a team that consists of parents, colleagues, administrators, and the students themselves.  (more…)

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.

tgannon@timesreview.com

07/25/13 5:00pm
07/25/2013 5:00 PM

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Riverhead Central Faculty Association’s newest president, Lisa Goulding, at the union’s downtown office on Roanoke Avenue with middle school social studies teacher Chris Butterfield (left) and Roanoke Elementary School third-grade teacher Gary Karlson, who were elected co-vice presidents in May.

Riverhead High School social studies teacher Lisa Goulding is very familiar with the Riverhead Central Faculty Association’s downtown office on Roanoke Avenue. She’s become even cozier there since settling into her new desk for the first time last Monday.

After serving for six years as vice president of the district’s teachers union, Ms. Goulding, 51, was elected its newest leader in May.

The school district hired her right out of college 26 years ago and she’s worked in Riverhead ever since. The Shirley parent has a daughter in high school and a son in college.

Ms. Goulding replaces former union president and physical education teacher Barbara Barosa, who retired last month after nearly two decades as RCFA leader. The union also elected Middle School social studies teacher Chris Butterfield and Roanoke Elementary School third-grade teacher Gary Karlson as its vice presidents.

The trio is expected to take turns attending school board meetings, Ms. Goulding said.

“I am really excited to lead the RCFA,” she said. “I am fortunate to be able to do this, working side-by-side with Chris and Gary, who both have a lot to offer.”

As for addressing concerns inside the classroom, Ms. Goulding said she’s up to the challenge of working with the administration to come up with ways to help the district’s current 375 teachers handle rising class sizes. She said the district has shed about 70 positions since the economic downturn during the 2008-09 school year, all as student enrollment has increased to more than 5,000 students.

Another task she’s working on is helping to negotiate a new teachers contract to replace the one that expired June 30, 2012. Although teachers have been working without a contract for the past year, she said the matter hasn’t yet been referred to the state’s Public Employment Relations Board, or PERB, because she believes both parties are confident they’ll be able to strike a deal.

We recently sat down with Ms. Goulding at her office. The following was excerpted from our conversation:

Q: Why did you want to become union president?

A: I knew Barbara was retiring and, as vice president, I was working closely with her and learning the ropes of the position. We’ve got great teachers and I’m looking forward to representing them. It’s a great opportunity to work with the district’s administration to develop something that works for the kids and teachers. We’ve done a lot of work with the APPR [Annual Professional Performance Review] and teacher evaluation system. One of our goals is to find out what our teachers’ specific needs are and encourage them to become more involved with the RCFA.

Q: What are your other goals as union president?

A: Education faces so many challenges today in New York and throughout the country, especially testing. The RCFA plans to help teachers by providing them with the tools they need to adapt to the state Education Department’s changes in curriculum. We will be working with the district to ensure that children continue to receive a great education and continue to lobby for our fair share of state aid.

Q: What are your thoughts about the state Common Core Standards Initiative?

A: I think there are very few people who would argue that the overall goals of the Common Core standards are bad. Who wouldn’t advocate that high school graduates should be college and career ready? The problem lies with the implementation of the Common Core standards in New York. Districts throughout the state were given a very limited time in which to implement the Common Core standards. Teachers have been given very limited professional development on Common Core instruction, and yet students were given assessments based on the Common Core. Not only is the problem with teacher evaluation being based on the Common Core, the hours and hours of testing is very unfair to kids. I’m not sure who was more frustrated — students, teachers, parents or administrators. We want to focus on more Common Core professional development for our teachers.

02/05/13 9:59pm
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Superintendent Nancy Carney, left, with school board president Ann Cotten-DeGrasse at Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting.

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Superintendent Nancy Carney, left, with school board president Ann Cotten-DeGrasse at Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting.

Over 20 Riverhead School District employees have accepted a retirement incentive offer that Superintendent Nancy Carney described as a vital move to maintain current programs next school year.

During the school board’s regular meeting Tuesday night, a handful of audience members listened as Ms. Carney presented her 2013-2014 preliminary spending plan. If the school board were to roll over all existing programs into next year’s budget, she estimates the current $111.8 million spending plan would need to increase by about $6.6 million next year through a tax levy increase of 7.48 percent.

But since that proposed spending plan would need to be reduced by about $2 million in order to comply with the state-mandated tax levy cap, Ms. Carney said a decision was made to offer the retirement incentive.

“We really do feel that we’re at the point where we can’t reduce anymore without a significant effect on students in a negative way,” she said. “The result in savings [from the retirement incentives] will allow for the preservation of all of our programs that are now in place.”

CLICK TO VIEW LIST OF RETIRING EMPLOYEES

Although each employee that takes the retirement incentive will receive $20,000, Ms. Carney said the move will still save the district over $70,000 per employee that accepts the offer.

One of the district employee who plans to retire at the end of this school year is physical education teacher and Riverhead Central Faculty Association union president Barbara Barosa.

Ms. Barosa, who has worked in the district for the past 26 years and has been the union president for nearly two decades, said after the meeting that she decided to retire in order to spend more time with her husband, who is also retired.

“The stars were aligned and somebody said ‘Maybe you should go, Barbara,’” she said, adding she would like to continue coaching in the fall if possible.

Ms. Barosa said the union will hold an election in May to fill her position.

After Ms. Barosa thanked the school board for coming up with the cost-saving plan to maintain programs and congratulated her colleagues on their retirements during the public comment portion of the meeting, school board president said Ann Cotten-DeGrasse described the retirement incentive agreement as a “pleasant surprise.”

“It did make a big difference to us,” she told Ms. Barosa. “Thank you.”

In addition to the retirement incentive plan, Ms. Carney’s preliminary spending plan also includes a $583,000 expense for an energy performance contract. She said the investment this year on new energy efficient lighting and windows will ultimately produce savings on future energy costs.

The district will also receive a 6.6 percent increase — totaling over $18 million — in state aid if Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposed budget is approved.

Here’s the remaining timeline for this year’s budget process for the Riverhead School District:

• Feb. 26: Presentation on regular day school budget, transportation and facilities

• March 12: Presentation on special education, PPS, guidance and other instructional items

• March 19: Presentation on revenues and projected tax levy

• April 9: Presentation on total tentative budget

• April 23: Deadline for school board to adopt proposed budget

• May 21: Budget vote scheduled from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at local polling locations

jennifer@timesreview.com

01/09/13 7:00am

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO

Riverhead school officials presented the district’s new standards for teacher and principal evaluations, a state-mandated task the teacher’s union president described as “monumental,” but something the  district should be “proud” of.

During the school board’s regular meeting at the high school auditorium, about 10 people listened as officials explained the district’s new teacher and principal annual professional performance reviews, known as APPR.

The school board unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday to adopt it. The state has imposed a Jan. 17 deadline on school districts to have an approved plan in place or the district will lose state aid.

Riverhead’s assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, Lois Etzel, who served on a committee made up of teachers and administrators tasked with coming up with the plan, said not all school workers will have to take part in the new evaluation system.

Although most teachers and all seven principals will have to receive the evaluations, she said the state has excluded some school workers, such as substitute teachers, speech pathologists, psychologists, social workers and librarians.

The evaluation system will consist of four categories: “highly effective,” “effective,” “developing,” and “ineffective.”

Using a mathematical formula, a teacher’s or principal’s score is determined by coupling classroom observations and student assessments.

Riverhead Central Faculty Association union president Barbara Barosa said during the meeting the amount of time teachers and administrators put into creating the plan was “monumental,” adding that the district should be “proud.”

“It’s a very complicated plan,” she said. “It’s not intended to be so. We had to adhere to what the state said we had to make. There are lots of conversion charts…It’s going to be a very interesting procedure for teachers, as well as administrators to administer.”

Ms. Barosa said she believes the state is requiring students to take too many tests, a system she also believes isn’t an equitable way to measure classroom performance.

“Kids are a whole lot more than a test score,” she said. “Teachers are a whole lot more than a test score.”

Now that the district has adopted the plan, Ms. Barosa said revisions are expected to be made as the implementation process unfolds.

“We put a lot of effort into this and it’s not over yet,” she said. “We’re hoping it gets more simple as we go forward.”

Copies of the report weren’t immediately available.

jennifer@timesreview.com

08/30/12 4:00pm
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Riverhead teacher Shirley Hill giving out ice cream to kindergartners Wednesday at the Jamesport firehouse.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Riverhead teacher Shirley Hill giving out ice cream to kindergartners Wednesday at the Jamesport firehouse.

The Riverhead teacher union sponsored ice cream socials for kindergartners Wednesday at the Jamesport and Flanders firehouses.

“Even though kindergarten orientation was held back in June, this gives the children and their parents another opportunity to meet the teachers and put a face with the name before school starts,” said Phil Kent, the 10th-year principal at Aquebogue Elementary School.

“They can learn more about the school, the community and their fellow classmates,” he added.

Teachers read from the book, ‘The Night Before Kindergarten” by Natasha Wing and Julie Durrell.

Each kindergartner was given a copy of the book to take home. After the event, the children enjoyed a cup of ice cream and Oreo cookies and got a chance to color some coloring book pages.

Aquebogue elementary has four kindergarten classes with about 85 students total.Riverhead Central Faculty Association officials stated in a press release that the goals of the ice cream socials are:

• To help kindergartners and their families adjust to a full school day more quickly so learning can take place.
• To let parents know that Riverhead teachers care about their children and want all of them to succeed.
• To promote reading, literacy, and learning.
• To promote a positive feeling about Riverhead schools.
• To help parents understand the importance of full day kindergarten for learning.Riley and Roanoke Avenue kindergartners were treated to an ice cream social Thursday afternoon at Riverhead fire headquarters.
The first day of school is next Wednesday.
Aquebogue teacher,

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Shirley Hill, who teaches special education in Aquebogue, reading ‘The Night Before Kindergarten.’

Jamesport Fire Department, Riverhead teacher union RCFA

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Carlos Garcia, 3, (his sister Diany is a kindergartner) Bryce Mackie and Coy Witt during coloring time Wednesday.