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.

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01/15/14 9:00am
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Pulaski Street School literacy coach Amy Brennan, left, and principal Dave Densieski at Tuesday night's school board meeting.

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Pulaski Street School literacy coach Amy Brennan, left, and principal Dave Densieski at Tuesday night’s school board meeting.

Pulaski Street School students are learning to read “closely” by using more social studies materials than in previous years under the rigorous new English Language Arts curriculum mandated by the state.

Pulaski Street School principal Dave Densieski and literacy coach Amy Brennan gave a presentation Tuesday night about how Common Core in ELA is being implemented in the district’s fifth- and sixth-grade classrooms. The presentation, at the school board’s regular meeting, was the fourth Common Core discussion this school year.

Ms. Brennan said students are not only reading more non-fiction, but are also answering questions about what they’ve learned based on the reading materials.

“Close reading is not new,” she said. “It’s just really popular now. It’s a hot topic because Common Core puts such an emphasis on it.”

Close reading involves students carefully rereading text to fully understand the meaning and requiring the students to precisely attribute where they found their answers.

Mr. Densieski said he believes the academic transition from fifth to sixth grade is the most demanding for students and teachers are using the new lesson plans to help students achieve higher standards.

“Thinking is tough and it’s hard work sometimes,” he said. “It is a struggle to think problems out and to think deeper and to think critically, but that is what we’re being asked to do.”

The Common Core State Standards have been adopted by most states across the country and aim 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 teachers can use to help students achieve the new standards. The state doesn’t mandate use of these lesson plans, but they are available online at engageny.org.

Ms. Brennan said the school is using two of the state’s ELA Common Core modules this year. In fifth grade, teachers are using a module entitled “Becoming a Close Reader and Writing to Learn: Stories of Human Rights.” Under that lesson plan, the books students will read include “Esperanza Rising” by Pam Munoz Ryan.

As for the new sixth-grade module, she said teachers are using a lesson plan about Greek mythology.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, parents expressed concern about increasing rigor at Pulaski Street School because they believe the classes are too large. Mr. Densieski had said during his presentation that class size ranges from 25 to 28 students and teachers are receiving professional development to help customize instruction to their classrooms.
Parents also asked about the repercussions when children do not take the Common Core assessments, a movement known as “opting out.”

Superintendent Nancy Carney dismissed the term, saying that “opting out” isn’t an option for the test. A student’s name is printed on each assessment and presented to them at the start of the exam, she said.

Asked what happens if a student refuses to take the assessment, Ms. Carney said each situation will be handled individually.

She said the district isn’t allowed to give those students other work to do during the test and they might be asked to remain at their seat or move to another available room to read.
If a student is absent on the day when an assessment is given, Ms. Carney said, the test will be presented to the student again the following day when he or she returns to school. If the student decides not to take the assessment, she said, those students “won’t receive a score.”

Ms. Carney said although the district respects a parent’s decision, she recommends that students take the assessments because she believes doing so will help them academically.

“We do encourage people to take assessments simply for the fact that the more familiar students get with assessments, the better they’re going to get at taking the assessments,” she said. “Eventually, you do need to pass assessments in order to graduate.”

A presentation about how Common Core math is being implemented in fifth and sixth grade is scheduled for the next school board meeting on Jan. 28.

Ms. Carney said the district also plans to host a public forum to discuss Common Core and to address any concerns residents have about the district’s curriculum. She attributed the idea to parent Yolanda Thompson, who suggested at last month’s board meeting that a committee be created to enhance dialogue between the district and community.

SUPE: CONSTRUCTION ON SCHEDULE

The superintendent also gave an update on current construction projects and said facility improvements remain on schedule.

Projects at Phillips Avenue, Riley Avenue and Aquebogue elementary schools are in the final stages of construction and have a few punch list items remaining.

At the high school, she said, the new library is expected to open soon, the large group instruction room will be ready by Monday and the new science research lab will be completed in the next few weeks. The auditorium and four bathrooms have already been renovated, she said.

Construction is expected to get underway at Pulaski Street and Roanoke Avenue elementary schools and at the middle school sometime in the summer or fall, she said.

The projects are being paid for through a $78.3 million construction bond project voters approved in 2011.

SCHOOL BOARD GOES DIGITAL

For the first time, the Riverhead school board meeting was conducted “virtually” through a new online system called BoardDocs, which enables the district clerk to track meeting progress and summarize discussion in real time on a large screen behind the school board members. The software also allows board members to display a three-minute timer during the public comment portion of the meeting, which alerts speakers when their allotted time is up.

Each board member was also given Think Pads in order to follow along with the digital agenda.
In addition, BoardDocs allows the district to post and organize notices, agendas and other information online.

For more information about BoardDocs software, visit the district’s website or http://www.boarddocs.com/ny/rcsd/Board.nsf/Public

jennifer@timesreview.com

08/26/13 2:31pm
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | Riverhead School District Superintendent Nancy Carney is expected to discuss Tuesday a proposed $1.7 million expenditure for capital improvement projects at the high school.

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | Riverhead School District Superintendent Nancy Carney is expected to discuss Tuesday a proposed $1.7 million expenditure for capital improvement projects at the high school.

The Riverhead school board is expected to hold a public hearing Tuesday night to discuss a proposed $1.7 million expenditure from the district’s repair-reserve fund for various high school capital improvements.

According to the meeting’s agenda, the monies will be used for several repairs, including:

• back plaza courtyard and lighting

• south and student parking lots

• ceiling and lighting in the cafeteria and first and second floor corridors

• rooftop HVAC supports and enclosures

• auditorium stage and stairs

• fin-tube enclosures, boiler and hot water heater

• public address system

• gymnasium wall padding

These projects are separate from the 2011 voter-approved bond project, in which district-wide construction is currently under way.

The high school is slated to receive several upgrades through the bond, including: a new roof, windows, ventilation and electrical systems, science classrooms and additional music and art space. The bond project also includes upgraded athletic fields and new bleachers, a new auditorium and renovated classrooms to replace the school’s portable classrooms.

In addition, the school board Tuesday night is expected to scrap solar panel and wind power plans from its energy performance contract, which is also separate from the bond proposal.

The photovoltaic project was planned for the high school, middle school, and Aquebogue, Phillips Avenue and Riley Avenue elementary schools, according to the meeting’s agenda. The estimated cost per school was $50,o00. There was also a proposed $12,000 wind power generation project proposed at the high school in the plan.

According to the agenda, the solar panel project should be canceled due to “capital construction project roof work overlap” and the wind project should be removed because the manufacturer is “no longer in business.”

Scroll down to view the complete agenda. Check back later for an update.

Riverhead school board meeting agenda, Aug. 27, 2013

07/24/13 6:00am
07/24/2013 6:00 AM
Bus_Garage_BE_R.jpg

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | The Riverhead School District plans to form a committee to decide if the district should keep its bus facility in Riverhead or relocate it.

Riverhead School District Superintendent Nancy Carney said Tuesday the district is planning to form a committee tasked with finding a solution to deal with the district’s crumbling bus barn.

Ms. Carney said during the school board’s regular meeting that residents will be invited to join the committee and further details about the volunteer group will be released in September through a press release.

The maintenance and storage facility located between district athletic fields on Harrison Avenue in Riverhead was first built in 1920 to house horses and has fallen into despair. Discussions on what to do with it had been put on the back burner due to budget constraints, Ms. Carney has said. (The district posted photos of the dilapidated condition of the facility earlier this year on its website.)

Residents voted down a May 21 proposition that would have allowed the district to acquire two properties adjacent to Phillips Avenue Elementary School in Riverside. The deal would have given the district access to a nearby industrial park, and then to Route 24.

The Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association opposed the project because it believed a school bus facility’s tax exemption goes against a revitalization plan nearly a decade in the making. After association members claimed the district failed to include the community in the planning process, it organized a campaign to have the Riverside land deal defeated.

When asked by a reporter if the Riverside location is officially off the table, Ms. Carney said the district will look into it again if the committee decides that the location is the best place for the bus garage.

“That’s the only way,” she said. “We’re going to brainstorm what are our options are: finding a place to move it to or renovating it in its place.”

Ms. Carney said the community-based planning process will be similar to the district’s Community Partnership for Revitalization committee, known as CPR, which was made up of district residents and employees. The volunteer group was asked to revise an infrastructure upgrade plan after the district’s proposed bond project was overwhelmingly rejected by voters in 2010. Residents ultimately approved a $78.3 million capital improvement bond project in 2011.

Ms. Carney updated the school board about those bond projects during Tuesday night’s meeting and said construction at Phillips Avenue, Riley Avenue and Aquebogue elementary schools is under way and detailed upcoming projects planned for the high school.

Reconfiguration of bus loops is being done at Riley Avenue and Aquebogue elementary schools, a sidewalk is being added to Edgar Avenue near the Aquebogue school and the second part of Phillips Avenue’s playground is being completed, she said.

The elementary schools will also receive new windows through an energy performance contract, which Ms. Carney said is separate from the voter-approved bond.

As for the high school, the front parking area and entrance will be closed once construction begins within the next two weeks, she said. The original auditorium is slated to get new flooring and seating. New flooring and bleachers are also being installed in the gym, Ms. Carney said.

“We’re in full construction mode,” she said. “There’s an incredible amount of work going on and we’re excited that we’re going to have buildings that look brand new come September.”

jennifer@timesreview.com

07/23/13 12:00pm
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Construction at Aquebogue Elementary School on Main Road is expected to be completed in September.

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Construction at Aquebogue Elementary School on Main Road is scheduled to be completed in September.

Riverhead School District Superintendent Nancy Carney is expected to discuss ongoing capital improvement projects within the district at tonight’s school board meeting.

During the board’s May 7 meeting, the district’s planning consultants said the $78.3 million bond project approved by voters in 2011 remains on schedule with the exception of work being done at the high school.

Work at Phillips Avenue Elementary School in Riverside, Riley Avenue Elementary School in Calverton and Aquebogue Elementary School will be completed by September, school officials have said.

Scroll down to view the complete agenda. Check back later for an update.

Riverhead school board meeting agenda, July 23, 2013

05/07/13 6:00am
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | This new research area at Phillips Avenue Elementary School was unveiled in March. The Riverhead school board is expected to receive an update about the district's capital improvement projects Tuesday night.

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | This new research area at Phillips Avenue Elementary School was unveiled in March, and came as part of the $78.3 million bond project approved in 2011.

Riverhead school board members and the public are expected to get an update on ongoing capital improvement projects within the district at tonight’s school board meeting.

Representatives from both BBS Architects of Patchogue and Triton Construction of Garden City will update the school board on the $78.3 million bond project approved by voters in 2011, according to the agenda.

The school board held a ribbon-cutting ceremony in March at Phillips Avenue Elementary School in Riverside, unveiling a new library and media center in the school. The ceremony marked the first completed facility upgrade paid through the bond.

In addition to the construction update, the school board will hold a public hearing to discuss the proposed 2013-14 budget and give school board candidates Christopher Dorr, Jeffrey Falisi and Amelia Lantz an opportunity to speak, according to the agenda.

The public portion of the school board’s meeting starts at 7 p.m.

Scroll down to view the complete agenda. Check back later for an update.

Riverhead school board meeting agenda, May 7, 2013.

10/06/11 11:00am
10/06/2011 11:00 AM

COURTESY PHOTO Superintendent of schools Nancy Carney

Riverhead taxpayers will head to the polls Tuesday to vote on the school district’s $78.3 million plan for infrastructure repairs and upgrades.

Voters will also be asked to consider a second proposal for a new $7 million gymnasium at the high school. That proposition is contingent upon passage of the $78.3 million bond.
The bond, which would be paid for with taxpayer money over two decades, is down about $45 million from the $123 million proposal voters overwhelmingly rejected in February 2010.

The plan, designed by BBS Architects and Engineers of Patchogue, calls for new classrooms at every school except Phillips Avenue, new science labs at the middle and high schools, heating and ventilation upgrades and other improvements.

The News-Review recently asked superintendent Nancy Carney four questions some well-known members of the community have been asking about the latest plan. Here’s what Ms. Carney had to say.

Bruce Tria

 

Q: How do we know the school district will take care of the new facilities so we’re not doing the same thing again in 20 years? — Bruce Tria, president, WRIV 1390-AM radio

 

A: The district has been taking care of its facilities, and takes that responsibility very seriously, but there comes a time with any structure when day-to-day repairs are no longer cost effective. Taking our roofs, for example, we have patched and patched the roofs, but after 20 or 30 years, the rubber that makes up the roofing materials can no longer be stretched or patched. The roofing material has now outlived its useable life and needs to be totally replaced.

Hal Lindstrom

 

Q: The district reported that its schools are in disrepair. What happened to the money that was budgeted for maintenance in years past? — Hal Lindstrom, Calverton resident and outspoken opponent of the bond

A: As stated above, the money allocated for maintenance in the past has been used for maintenance. However, the work proposed under the bond is work that is beyond standard maintenance. Our boilers are inefficient and ineffective, not because of negligence by the district, but because the technology that drives them is outdated and inefficient. Some of our boilers are so old that replacement parts are difficult, if not impossible, to obtain. Therefore, replacing these boilers is the only logical option.

 

Nancy Swett

 

Q: Will school construction and renovation provide any work for locals? — Nancy Swett, founder, iloveriverhead.com

A: Public schools are required by New York State law to put construction projects out to bid, meaning that any contractor with the requisite insurance and bonding is free to submit a bid to do the work. The district cannot guarantee or predict which contractors will win the bids, but regardless of the winning bidders, the laborers who perform the work will eat in our restaurants and shop in our stores.

 

 

Janet Bidwell

Q: We know that in a declining real estate market when the monthly cost of carrying a home increases, selling prices decrease. Are you concerned that by raising taxes the value of homes in Riverhead will decline even further? — Janet Bidwell, local real estate agent

A: Home values are outside the purview of the school district; they are set solely by the assessors of the town in which the home sits. Real estate agents will tell you that homebuyers with children typically place significant, if not major, importance on the school district when selecting the community they will move to. This bond impacts the perception homebuyers have of our district, which in turn impacts real estate values.

 

 

Angela DeVito

Q: Considering the recent upsurge in school enrollment, especially at the elementary level, will the proposed expansions be sufficient to meet these new needs when all are completed over the next 5 years? Angela DeVito, former school board member

A: Based on demographic studies, the proposed renovations will meet the needs of the district in the future.

vchinese@timesreview.com