03/06/14 5:00pm
03/06/2014 5:00 PM

schoolsSix local school board incumbents are up for re-election this year. So far, one has said she’ll step down after her term, two are on the fence about appearing on the May 20 ballot and another two are gearing up to run again. One board member was unavailable for comment. To gain a spot on the ballot, candidates must submit their petitions by April 21, under state law.


Three of the seven seats on the Riverhead Board of Education will be up for grabs in May.

Board president Ann Cotten-DeGrasse announced last year during her campaign for town supervisor that she will not seek re-election at the end of her second term. A retired teacher who taught in the district for more than 30 years, Ms. Cotten-DeGrasse is a former president of the teachers union in Riverhead and a co-founding member of the North Fork Breast Health Coalition. The Jamesport resident was first elected to the school board in 2008.

Ms. Cotten-DeGrasse said in a previous interview that she decided not to seek another term on the board because she feels that she’s accomplished what she intended. “My goals were to bring civility and respect back to the board and to see that the bond passed,” she said. “I did the two things I really set out to do and I’m ready to move on.”

Board vice president Greg Meyer confirmed last week that he will seek another three-year term. Mr. Meyer, a Calverton resident, was first elected in 2008. He’s employed as a firefighter and emergency medical technician at Brookhaven National Lab.

When asked if he’s interested in becoming board president given Ms. Cotten-DeGrasse’s decision, Mr. Meyer said, “We’ll have to see what the board decides.

“I enjoy what I’m doing and believe the progress the board has made in the last six years has been terrific,” he said.

Board member Kimberly Ligon said last week she hasn’t decided if she’ll seek re-election. She was first elected in 2011.


Incumbents Bill McGrath, John Zukowski and Jack Costas are up for re-election to the seven-member board. Mr. McGrath, who was elected in 2008 and has been board president since 2011, said last week he hasn’t decided if he’ll seek another three-year term. As the budget season unfolds, Mr. McGrath, of Wading River, said he’s focused on helping to draft next year’s spending plan.

Mr. Zukowski, an attorney who was first elected in 2011, said last week that he plans to run for re-election. Mr. Costas wasn’t immediately available for comment.

02/25/14 12:00pm
02/25/2014 12:00 PM

The Riverhead school board is expected to vote on change order for construction work at Aquebogue Elementary School (pictured above) and the high school. (File photo by Joe Werkmeister)

The Riverhead school board is expected to discuss the preliminary 2014-15 budget, Common Core practices in the middle school and ongoing capital improvement projects at Tuesday night’s regular meeting, according to the agenda.


02/18/14 1:37pm
02/18/2014 1:37 PM

Riverhead Middle School

The Riverhead School District has just announced the school board will hold a special meeting Thursday to discuss “personnel” in executive session, according to a notice.

The meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. in the district office. No other details about the meeting were immediately available.  (more…)

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.


02/11/14 9:00am
02/11/2014 9:00 AM
The Riverhead school board's regular meeting is Tuesday night in the high school auditorium. (File photo by Jennifer Gustavson)

The Riverhead school board’s regular meeting is Tuesday night in the high school auditorium. (File photo by Jennifer Gustavson)

Riverhead School District Superintendent Nancy Carney is expected to give a 2014-15 preliminary budget presentation Tuesday night, according to the school board’s meeting agenda.


01/14/14 10:11am
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | The Riverhead school board will meet Tuesday night.

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | The Riverhead school board’s regular meeting is tonight.

The Riverhead school board is expected to discuss how Common Core is being implemented in the district’s fifth and sixth grade classrooms, according to tonight’s meeting agenda.

The discussion marks the fourth Common Core presentation given this school year.

[Click the following links for a recap of previous coverage: Principals David Enos and Thomas Payton's presentation on kindergarten through second grade; Principal Phil Kent and school literacy coach Vanessa Williams's presentation on third grade; Principal Debra Rodgers' presentation on fourth grade.]

In addition to discussing Common Core, the school board is expected to vote on a resolution to approve a change in minimum wage rates for student employees.

Last year, the state passed legislation raising the minimum wage in New York from $7.25 to $8 an hour. The law went into effect Jan. 1.

The district has also launched a new system to post notices, agendas and other information online called BoardDocs.

To view the complete agenda, visit http://www.boarddocs.com/ny/rcsd/Board.nsf/Public or scroll down. Check back for an update.

The public portion of the meeting is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. in the high school auditorium.

Riverhead School Board Meeting Agenda, Jan. 14, 2014

12/10/13 10:28pm

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Phillips Avenue Elementary School principal Debra Rodgers giving a presentation Tuesday night about Common Core practices within fourth-grade English Language Arts and math.

Angry Riverhead School District parents and residents are expressing their frustration over new Common Core materials for elementary school students, particularly new math curriculum.

During the school board’s regular meeting Tuesday night, parent Yolanda Thompson said she’s upset because she and her husband have been unable to properly assist their third-grade daughter with the new homework. She said she fears students aren’t exposed to building a strong foundation in math before moving onto more complex arithmetic.

“As parents, we’re wondering if we’re further confusing our children,” said Ms. Thompson, who provided the school board with handouts of her daughter’s homework. “There’s tears. There’s frustration.”

School board member Amelia Lantz said she’s concerned about her daughter’s fifth grade math homework that’s sponsored by the state because she has found it to be riddled with misspellings and errors.

Like Ms. Thompson, Ms. Lantz said she’s frustrated that she can’t help her daughter with her homework.

“Myself or my husband are trying to teach this to a child the way we learned it,” she said. “Now you’ve got three things going on in there and you’ve got one very frustrated child. That’s the gap that really concerns me.”

The Common Core State Standards has been nationally recognized and adopted by most states across the country that claims 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 for teachers to help students achieve the new standards. The state doesn’t mandate that schools use these lesson plans, but they are available online at engageny.org.

The public discussion came after Phillips Avenue Elementary School principal Debra Rodgers gave a presentation about Common Core practices within fourth-grade English Language Arts and math.

She said fourth grades teachers district-wide are collaborating together and combining current curriculum with state lessons plans Riverhead educators have deemed will be beneficial to students.

As for math, Ms. Rodgers conceded parents are most frustrated with not knowing how to help their children with math homework and suggested they contact the student’s teacher as soon as possible. Notifying the school will help to let the teacher know if the lesson needs to be repeated in class, she said.

“Close the book and send it back to the teacher,” Ms. Rodgers said.

Superintendent Nancy Carney reiterated that the district hasn’t “blindly adopted” the state’s recommended curriculum and is moving in a “slow and careful manner” when developing curriculum aimed at achieving the Common Core standards.

She also asked parents to be opened minded to new learning methods and gave an example of how children are able to use technology more readily than their parents.

“There are going to be new ways of learning, thinking and doing,” she said. “We need to be sure as parents and educators that we don’t frustrate kids. That’s very important to us.

“Please keep articulating to your building principals and your classroom teachers what your kids are struggling with so we can have those conversations and figure how to move forward.”


12/10/13 12:00pm

The Shoreham-Wading River Central School District is releasing its students from class 90 minutes earlier today due to inclement weather, Superintendent Steven Cohen said Tuesday.

Both Shoreham-Wading River Central School District and Riverhead Central School District have cancelled all after-school activities today due to the dangerous conditions.

The Riverhead School Board is still scheduled to meet tonight at 7 p.m. in the high school cafeteria.