02/20/14 8:00am
02/20/2014 8:00 AM
(Courtesy photo by Stony Brook University)

School superintendents David Gamberg, Steven Cohen and Michael Hynes have scheduled a public forum on March 13 at Stony Brook University’s Wang Center. (Courtesy photo by Stony Brook University)

Speaking out against a recent push in state-mandated education testing just isn’t enough for some local superintendents.

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02/04/2014 10:54 PM
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River School District Superintendent Steven Cohen, left, and school board president Bill McGrath at Tuesday night's meeting.

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River School District Superintendent Steven Cohen, left, and school board president Bill McGrath at Tuesday night’s meeting.

Shoreham-Wading River School District Superintendent Steven Cohen announced Tuesday he’s moving forward with a 2014-15 budget that does not include funding for Briarcliff Elementary School.

(more…)

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO  |  Shoreham-Wading River superintendent Steven Cohen.

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River superintendent Steven Cohen.

UPDATE

The Shoreham-Wading River Board of Education unanimously approved the new contract for superintendent Steven Cohen.

ORIGINAL STORY

Shoreham-Wading River Superintendent Steven Cohen is expected to be appointed to a new three-year term at tonight’s Board of Education meeting.  (more…)

01/10/14 4:37pm
JOE WERKMEISTER FILE PHOTO | The Shoreham-Wading River school board meeting is at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in the high school library.

JOE WERKMEISTER FILE PHOTO | The Shoreham-Wading River High School was temporarily locked down Friday afternoon.

Shoreham-Wading River High School was on a temporary lockout status Friday afternoon due to an incident that took place in the parking lot, according to the district’s website.

“Earlier today, Shoreham-Wading River High School was temporarily placed on a lock out status due to a security issue that occurred in the parking lot,” Superintendent Steven Cohen said in the statement. “The perimeter was secured, meaning no one was permitted to leave or enter the building. As such, there was no disruption to the school day, as students were permitted to move about the school. Once the situation was resolved by the Suffolk County Police Department, the lock out was lifted.

“As always, the safety and security of our students is the district’s top priority,” he added.

Suffolk County Police said on Friday afternoon that the incident was noncriminal, though declined to offer further details.

“Crime section did not pick up the case and handed it to patrol, so that means the incident was non-criminal and the case is closed,” police said.

jennifer@timesreview.com

01/07/14 1:30pm
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River superintendent Steven Cohen and school board president Bill McGrath.

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River Superintendent Steven Cohen and school board president Bill McGrath.

The Shoreham-Wading River school board is expected to vote on a resolution ratifying a retirement incentive agreement with the teachers’ union for the current school year, according to tonight’s meeting agenda.

Superintendent Steven Cohen said nine teachers and one administrator has accepted the offer, in which the district will pay employees 50 percent of their final salary.

Since criteria to qualify for this retirement incentive is already built into the teachers’ contract, the school board must vote on a resolution to extend the offer to include some additional teachers, Mr. Cohen said.

When asked how much the district will save under the new agreement, he said it hasn’t been calculated because his administration and the school board have yet to determine if the retirees’ positions will be filled. If they are, then savings will be realized from the difference between the old and new salaries, Mr. Cohen said.

In recent years, he said if someone with a salary of $100,000 retires, the replacement’s new salary typically starts at around $50,000.

In addition to voting on the retirement incentive agreement, the school board is expected to discuss instructional program support plans.

The topic is part of Mr. Cohen’s series of presentations titled “Strategic Planning.”

The public portion of the meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the junior high auditorium.

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

Shoreham-Wading River school board meeting agenda, Jan. 7, 2014

01/07/14 7:00am
CARRIE MILLER FILE PHOTO | Education commissioner John King and state Board of Regents Meryl Tisch listening to a parade of speakers at a public forum in November.

CARRIE MILLER FILE PHOTO | Education commissioner John King and state Board of Regents Meryl Tisch listening to a parade of speakers at a public forum in November.

Seventh and eighth graders enrolled in New York public schools will no longer have to take the math state assessments come this spring, according to a press release issued Thursday.

Previously, those students taking Algebra I or geometry would sit for both the Regents exam and the state assessment — a practice referred to as “double testing.”

The federal government has now accepted New York State’s request to waive the state assessment mandate, thus eliminating double-test pressures for nearly 60,000 students.

Federal approval was needed to waive the math assessment requirements because all state assessments are mandated by the U.S. Department of Education, including grades 3 through 8 assessments; secondary-level exams in English, math and science; alternate assessments for students with disabilities; and annual assessments for English language learners, officials said.

State education department commissioner John King, who has come under fire in recent months from angry parents and teachers over the state’s implementation of new rigorous curriculum tied to teacher evaluations, said in a press release this week that he’s committed to reducing the amount of time students spend on tests.

Mr. King also announced last fall that the number of questions and testing time on state assessments for students in grades 3 through 8 will be reduced this school year.

Meanwhile, his department has asked the U.S. Department of Education to ease testing requirements for ESL students. The state is also asking the federal government for permission to base testing on “instructional level” rather than “chronological age” for students with significant cognitive disabilities and aren’t eligible for the New York State Alternate Assessment.

“Testing is an important part of the instructional cycle and good, sound assessments are necessary to monitor student academic progress, but we have repeatedly said that the amount of testing should be the minimum necessary to inform effective decision-making,” Mr. King said. “Our successful waiver request is an example of New York’s commitment to smarter, leaner testing.”

While some local school superintendents welcomed the announcement of the waiver, they also believe the state needs to do more.

“It’s the least they can do,” Shoreham-Wading River Superintendent Steven Cohen said when asked for comment on the state’s announcement.

Mr. Cohen said he believes implementation of the new academic standards was rushed and fails to address how family income levels play a major role in student performance.

Southold Superintendent David Gamberg said although he’s pleased the double test has been eliminated, he would like to see the state’s one-size-fits-all approach toward education come to an end, too.

“We’re not opposed to preparing students,” he said. “Students, parents, teachers and Boards of Education should be a part of developing curriculum for the future.”

jennifer@timesreview.com

12/18/13 12:30pm
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | From left, Shoreham-Wading River School District Superintendent Steven Cohen, school board president Bill McGrath and vice president John Zukowski at Tuesday night's meeting.

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | From left, Shoreham-Wading River School District Superintendent Steven Cohen, school board president Bill McGrath and vice president John Zukowski at Tuesday night’s meeting.

A Wading River resident took to the podium at Tuesday night’s Shoreham-Wading River school board meeting to accuse and chastise a school board member for wrongfully “leaking” an email sent from an unidentified resident to another resident.

Nikko Lavey claimed the email, which the News-Review could not obtain, was addressed to Shoreham-Wading River Superintendent Steven Cohen and contained “unflattering” comments about another person in the community. Apparently, the email got into that person’s hands. Although Mr. Lavey offered no details, he said the email was about the controversy concerning longtime boys varsity lacrosse coach Tom Rotanz, who will not be returning to Shoreham to coach the team in the spring.

Mr. Lavey said the email in question has created an uproar among district lacrosse players.

“The end result, teammates on the lacrosse team are now pointing fingers at each other and there has been no shortage of dissension among families involved,” he said.

Mr. Lavey declined to say which board member he believed had provided the email to the person mentioned in it.

Jeff Hayes of Wading River was the only other person to address the school board on this matter during Tuesday’s meeting.

“How is an email sent to you and only you forwarded on to board members or community members?” Mr. Hayes asked Mr. Cohen. “What is the policy on that? It was an email sent to you and only you and it ended up in a community member’s hands.”

None of the school board members responded to Mr. Lavey and Mr. Hayes.

Mr. Cohen declined comment after the meeting.

Also at the meeting, interim athletic director William Denniston honored several coaches and student athletes from this past fall season.

Some of the accomplishments were the tennis, cross country and football teams’ victories.

jennifer@timesreview.com

12/17/13 5:00pm
JOE WERKMEISTER FILE PHOTO | The Shoreham-Wading River school board meeting is at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in the high school library.

FILE PHOTO | The Shoreham-Wading River school board meeting is at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the high school library.

The Shoreham-Wading River school board is expected to discuss instructional program support plans during its regular meeting Tuesday night.

The discussion is part of Superintendent Steven Cohen’s series of presentations titled “Strategic Planning.”

The school board is also expected to vote on coach appointments, according to the meeting agenda. The district doesn’t release the names listed under personnel recommendations until after the resolution is approved, administrators have said.

It is unclear if the list includes a replacement for boys varsity lacrosse coach Tom Rotanz, whom the superintendent has said will not return next school year.

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

SWR School board meeting agenda, Dec. 17, 2013