Riverhead school board elects leaders and ‘reorganizes’ for 2012-13

Riverhead resident and local businessman Tom Carson was sworn in as the newest member of the Riverhead school board at the board’s reorganizational meeting Tuesday night.

Mr. Carson, owner of the Farm Country Kitchen on West Main Street in Riverhead, ran unopposed with Susan Koukounas for the board’s two open seats in this year’s election.

The board also unanimously re-elected Ann Cotten-Degrasse as president, and Greg Meyer as vice president.

There were no other nominations for the leadership positions.

During the annual reorganizational meeting, which is technically the first board meeting of the 2012-13 school year, the board also approved several position appointments, including hiring Amanda Jester to replace on-leave Phillips Avenue School fourth-grade teacher Joe Johnson.

Mr. Johnson was placed on paid leave after police allegedly caught him driving drunk with a loaded semi-automatic pistol in his car in April. He was indicted by a grand jury in May on criminal possession of a weapon and driving while intoxicated charges.

The board also heard an update on the progress of the district’s $78.3 million capital improvements school bond passed last October.

Larry Salvesen, an architect at BBS Architecture, said designs for the construction at Phillips Avenue School was approved by the state, and have since gone out to bid.

The schedule for approvals is slightly behind because, while the architecture firm said it gave a “generous” amount of time for the state to approve designs, the state slowed the process due to an influx of smaller maintenance bonds from other districts seeking OK’s.

Mr. Salvesen also discussed some changes from the original bond proposal to the final designs of the high school. Among other things, the library will seat about 130 students and has been reconfigured, and computer labs have been moved as well.

“This library we’re setting up is a library of the future,” he said.

The new addition to the front of the building will include science classrooms each specifically designed for a subject, like chemistry, earth science, physics and biology, he added.

Nicolas Andreadis of Triton Construction said that while the approval process may have been slowed down, he expects the schools to be completed according to schedule.

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