04/09/14 2:42pm
04/09/2014 2:42 PM
A large group of Spanish-speaking parents attended Tuesday night's meeting and complained of accessibility to at least one item that was being read only in English. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

A large group of Spanish-speaking parents attended Tuesday night’s meeting and complained of accessibility to at least one item that was being read only in English. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

The tensions of a divided school community were on full display at the Riverhead Charter School’s board of trustees meeting Tuesday night.

That meeting ended abruptly, when critics and supporters of principal and executive director Ray Ankrum began screaming at one another about what kind of comments should be allowed at such times — until, finally, the board threw the public out and continued the meeting in private.  (more…)

04/03/14 8:00am
04/03/2014 8:00 AM
Riverhead Charter School principal Raymond Ankrum outside the Calverton school Monday morning. Mr. Ankrum is at the center of a dispute among teachers at the school. (Credit: Michael White)

Riverhead Charter School principal Raymond Ankrum outside the Calverton school Monday morning. Mr. Ankrum is at the center of a dispute among teachers at the school.
(Credit: Michael White)

More than a dozen Riverhead Charter School teachers and administrators have come out this week in defense of Ray Ankrum, the school’s principal and executive director, who’s facing “union-busting” accusations that include firings and intimidation tactics directed at staffers sympathetic to the school’s teachers union.

Mr. Ankrum’s supporters include six veteran teachers who are members of the school’s leadership team. The team is also being implicated for taking part in anti-union activities in violation of state labor laws, according to two complaints filed with the state Public Employment Relations Board.

(See the full complaints at the end of this story.) (more…)

01/06/14 7:47pm
01/06/2014 7:47 PM
FILE PHOTO | Check back here for school closing updates.

FILE PHOTO | Check back for school updates.

Updates on school closings, delays, early dismissals and event cancellations:

As of 8:30 p.m. Monday

• Two-hour delayed opening on Tuesday at the Riverhead and Shoreham-Wading River school districts.

• Two-hour delayed opening on Tuesday at Bishop McGann-Mercy High School.

• St. Isidore School will have a delayed start at 10 a.m. on Tuesday.

• Peconic Community School will have a delayed start at 10 a.m. on Tuesday.

• Be sure to click the following links for any cancellations made between updates: Shoreham-Wading River, Riverhead School District, Riverhead Charter School, Bishop McGann-Mercy, St. Isidore School, Peconic Community School.

Check back for more information.

12/18/13 8:40am
12/18/2013 8:40 AM
FILE PHOTO | Check back here for school closing updates.

FILE PHOTO | Check back here for school closing updates.

Updates on school closings, early dismissals and event cancellations.

As of 7 a.m. Wednesday:

• Two-hour delayed opening at the Shoreham-Wading River School District.

Be sure to click the following links for any cancellations made between updates: Shoreham-Wading River, Riverhead School District, Riverhead Charter School, Bishop McGann-Mercy.

Check back for more information.

10/03/13 4:33pm
10/03/2013 4:33 PM
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Riverhead Charter School students at Thursday's groundbreaking ceremony.

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Riverhead Charter School students at Thursday’s groundbreaking ceremony.

The Riverhead Charter School held a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday to celebrate the start of its $14.1 million construction project that will accommodate the school’s increasing enrollment.

Charter school principal and executive director Raymond Ankrum gathered with hundreds of students wearing yellow hard hats at the school on Route 25 in Calverton and explained how the new building has been “years in the making.”

“Finally, it’s happening,” he said. “It’s an exciting time for our students and employees. We’re on the verge of big things.”

The 50,000-square foot project is expected to include a two-story building with new classrooms and space for an auditorium, gymnasium, library, administration offices and a kitchen. The design features will include a grand main entrance atrium and a large bay window that will act as a reading area in the front of the building.

Outside, there will be a general grass play area with landscaping, including tree plantings and standing ornamental lampposts.

A new bus loop, parking lot and drainage system will also be constructed.

The school will also get its first gymnasium, and a 150-seat portable bleacher.

Officials said the state Board of Regents approved the charter school’s request in March to expand its program through eighth grade, making it the only K-8 charter school in Suffolk County. The school was established in 2001 as a K-6 program and currently has students enrolled from about 14 local districts.

About a month after the state’s approval, the charter school held a lottery to fill open positions in the school’s kindergarten and grades 1, 2, and 6 programs. Mr. Ankrum had said the lottery was the first of its kind at the school, which saw more applications before the deadline this year than ever before.

Normally, the school will put students on a waiting list if they apply after the April 1 deadline, but this year the school received more applicants before the deadline than they had spots to fill.

Officials said the new facility will be able to accommodate about 500 students, up from its current capacity of 300.

During the groundbreaking ceremony, Mr. Ankrum also gathered with representatives involved with the project, including BBS Architects, Landscape Architects and Engineers of Patchogue. The company is also involved with capital improvement projects in the Riverhead and Shoreham-Wading River school districts.

Representatives from Stalco Construction of Islandia; the project’s general contractor, SCC Construction Management Group of Hauppauge; the project’s construction manager, DeLuxe Building Systems of Berwick, Penn.; and PW Grosser Consulting, also attended the event.

The project, which will be paid for through a bond, is expected to be completed next winter.

jennifer@timesreview.com

09/04/13 1:50pm
09/04/2013 1:50 PM

liveblog

Update: The Town Board has tabled a resolution that would have rejected a mining permit for Driftwood Family Farms in Calverton.

Click the blog box at the bottom of this post to follow along.

ORIGINAL POST: The Riverhead Town Board is meeting today, Wednesday, at 2 p.m. instead of its usual Tuesday due to the Labor Day holiday weekend.

As first reported last week, the board is expected to deny a controversial excavating permit application for Driftwood Family Farms, whose owners have been seeking permission to excavate more than 415,000 cubic yards of material from a 42-acre farm in Calverton.

The board discussed the resolution briefly at its work session last Thursday when reviewing resolutions for today’s meeting.

The board appeared to have at least three votes to deny the application, with officials fearing it could set a precedent, given the millions of dollars that can be fetched from selling sand.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Mattituck Laundry at 1044 Parkway Street in Riverhead.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Mattituck Laundry at 1044 Parkway Street in Riverhead.

Board members are expected to approve a clearing permit for an expansion of the Riverhead Charter School in Calverton.

Work is expected to begin soon on a new two-story building at the Riverhead Charter School that will replace the portable classrooms the school has been using since 2002. The permit will allow contractors to export 4,075 cubic yards of soil from the school property.

There is also a public hearing scheduled on whether to expand the Riverhead Sewer District to accomodate Mattituck Laundry with sewer connections at 1044 Parkway Street in Riverhead.

News-Review staff writer Tim Gannon will be reporting live from today’s meeting.

See below for a full agenda. Click below that to follow along.

 

September 4, 2013 – Agenda

04/21/13 6:00pm
04/21/2013 6:00 PM
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | (L-R) Melanie Leathers and her sister Vanessa Wigington moments after the charter school lottery ended.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Melanie Leathers (left) and her sister Vanessa Wigington moments after the charter school lottery ended.

Vanessa Wigington leaned forward in her chair as the man at the front of the room continued to pull slips of paper from the bowl in front of him. There were just twelve charter school kindergarten spaces available now. Her 4-year-old son James would have to get in. He had to.

“Number 36,” the man said, “James -”

Ms. Wigington’s eyes widened.

“-Marlules,” he finished.

She sank back into her chair. The wrong James. Not her son, who suffers from hearing loss and could benefit from the charter school’s smaller class sizes.

Ms. Wigington turned to her sister in the chair next to her and mouthed, “I’m going to throw up.”

The Riverhead Charter School held a lottery at the Riverhead Free Library Wednesday evening to fill open positions in the school’s kindergarten, grade 1, 2, and 6 programs.

Charter school executive director Raymond Ankrum said the lottery was the first of its kind at the school, which saw more applications before the deadline this year than ever before.

Normally, the school will put students on a waiting list if they apply after the April 1 deadline, but this year the school received more applicants before the deadline than they had spots to fill, he said.

“For us to have that many applicants, it’s pretty good,” Mr. Ankrum said.

Students who had siblings in the school or were from Riverhead were given preference, then out of town students were called. The dozen or so students who didn’t get in will be placed on a waiting list based on the date of their application, school officials said.

Some parents smiled as their child’s name was called, others whispered a quiet “yes” in celebration. Some high-fived their kids fidgeting in the chairs next to them.

The basement meeting room where the lottery was held was mostly empty; parents who did not attend the lottery will be notified if the child made it into the school or not.

Steve and Shirley Burgess of Middle Island were at the lottery with their three grandchildren, whom they care for. The oldest, 6-year-old Vitali, was placed on a waiting list for first grade, while his younger sister, Amya, was accepted into the kindergarten program.

Ms. Burgess said the family isn’t happy with the quality of Vitali’s education, and were hopeful he would get into the charter school off the wait list.

“That’s all we can ask for right now,” she said.

About 6:45 p.m., the man pulling the names from the bowl, auditor Elliatt Di Lieto, made the announcement for the kindergarten applicants.

“There’s three more seats left,” he said.

In her seat, Ms. Wigington was perfectly still. Her sister, Melanie Leathers, held her hands over her mouth. Another name called, not her son. Two spots left, and three student’s names left in the bowl. The last student called wouldn’t get in and would have to be placed on the waiting list.

Mr. Dilieto pulled a yellow slip from the bowl and read the name.

“Number 46,” he said. “James Wigington.”

Ms. Wigington threw her hands into the air, her face frozen in shock, and her sister clapped and started laughing. The two hugged, and Ms. Wigington sighed. After the lottery, she couldn’t stop smiling.

“I was freaking out,” she said. “I was just nervous it wasn’t going [to happen]. I was thinking of how much I would have to pay for a private school.”

James is now a student at Cleary School for the Deaf in Nesconset. He’ll join his cousin, Ms. Leathers’ daughter, at the Charter School this year. Because he’s enrolled, his 2-year-old sister will get preference when it’s her turn to join the school two years from now.

“Just complete relief and excitement,” Ms. Wigington said. “I’m very excited.”

psquire@timesreview.com