SWR Notebook: Retired administrator hired at per diem rate

The Shoreham-Wading River school board voted Tuesday to appoint Charles Althoff as interim director of student services at a per diem rate of $600.

He’ll begin work today through June 20, 2012. He will not receive medical benefits, and either he or the district can terminate his employment by giving notice 15 days ahead of time.

Mr. Althoff, a Shoreham resident, is retired administrator from the Connetquot School District and has a “long history” in special education, board president Bill McGrath said. In addition to his per diem, which adds up to more than $100,000,  he earns about $81,000 annually through the New York State pension system for his time in Connetquot.

The director of student services role was left vacant last month when William Bushman took a leave of absence from the position for one year to serve as the assistant superintendent for human resources.

The board also voted to appoint Dr. Bushman to the position of records management officer and records access officer, with no additional compensation.

Education goals and priorities

SAMANTHA BRIX PHOTO | Superintendent Steven Cohen gives a presentation on education goals and priorities for this school year.

Superintendent Steven Cohen gave a presentation on education goals and priorities for the 2011-12 school year with respect to math and English Language Arts performance, student electives, professional development, finances, facilities, human resources and communication. The goals will be posted on the district’s website for community input, and a finalized version will be presented at the Sept. 20 meeting, during which time the board will adopt them.

Goals for math and English language arts include reviewing benchmark assessments and developing exit criteria, and monitoring instruction and curriculum changes at the middle school.

Dr. Cohen said another goal is to gauge student perception of electives, co-curricular clubs and extra help, and use it to inform instruction.

With respect to facilities, Dr. Cohen said school officials should identify potential capital improvement projects in October, and prepare for the oil tank replacement and drainage improve projects, two capital improvement projects that voters approved in May.

Dr. Cohen also laid out a plan for preparing next school year’s budget. He’ll give three presentations on a “roll-over” budget, identifying funding gaps and possible fillers. He’ll list possible cuts in the budget before Christmas, and in January he’ll propose the 2012-13 spending plan, during which time he’ll discuss how to fill gaps in the budget.

Budget workshops will be held throughout February and March, and the budget will be adopted at the end of March.

Dr. Cohen will spearhead a Superintendent’s Open Forum Series. The topics discussed, and months in which they’ll take place, are as follows:

  • September: Free society, public education, the link between good public education and free, prosperous communities
  • October: How schools work
  • November: Paying for public education, budgets, unfunded mandates, economic conditions
  • January: State regents reform agenda and lifelong learning
  • February: The link between professional development and student learning
  • March: Student life: Growing up and coping with competitive athletics, demanding academics, drugs, bullying and the internet
  • April: Shoreham-Wading River school buildings: long-term plans for repair and renovation

Board member Richard Pluschau suggested Dr. Cohen hold a second forum on the budget closer to when budget workshops are held in March, and Dr. Cohen agreed.

“When it comes to the budget, I think more is better,” Dr. Cohen said.

Anthony DeLouise, who ran for the school board in May, said holding budget discussions earlier than in years past will benefit the district and community.

“The sooner you can integrate people into the budget process, the better off we’re all going to be,” he said.

Wading River resident Alisa McNorris concurred, saying starting budget talks early will be a good move.

Schools update

Dr. Cohen said each school is ready for the opening of school today. Last week, the district’s three elementary schools were without power, which was knocked out by Tropical Storm Irene. Each has since regained power.

Construction at Briarcliff Elementary School, where a roof restoration project began this year, is nearly complete and the school is “99 percent ready,” Dr. Cohen said.

North Shore Youth Council recognized

The board and community recognized Shoreham-Wading River student Erin Gorman for her efforts in working with students from the community through the North Shore Youth Council. NSYC executive director Janene Gentile said Erin played and read with young children each week this past year.

“We respect you as a leader in our community,” Ms. Gentile told Erin.

The next school board meeting is Sept. 20.

[email protected]