Riverhead School District

Push to cut back on standardized testing

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Riverhead School Board president Ann Cotten-DeGrasse hands a plaque to assistant superintendent Joe Ogeka at Tuesday night’s meeting. Ogeka is retiring after 30 years in the district.

The Riverhead School Board approved a resolution Tuesday night encouraging state and federal regulators to cut back on the “overreliance” of standardized testing.

“The growing reliance on and misalignment of standardized testing is eroding student learning time, narrowing the curriculum, and jeopardizing the rich, meaningful education our students need and deserve,” the resolution approved Tuesday states.

The resolution calls on the state education commissioner and the Board of Regents to reduce its reliance on such tests. It also calls on Congress and the president to do likewise. Research recommends, according to the resolution, the use of multiple measures to gauge student performance and teacher effectiveness. The state’s growing reliance on standardized testing adversely affects students, lowers morale among teachers and drains district resources, the resolution says.

Last year, more than 1,000 college professors from throughout the state signed a petition urging the same message. Riverhead school board president Ann Cotten-DeGrasse said numerous other school boards have done the same.

“The amount of time taken away from instruction is exorbitant,” she said.

Reserve funds approved

The board on Tuesday authorized transferring “excess fund balance” from the current budget to several existing reserve funds to guard against unexpected shortfalls.

The amounts approved were $50,000 for the retirement contribution reserve fund; $50,000 for the workers compensation reserve; $910,000 for the employee benefit accrued liability reserve; $632,237 for the repair reserve; and $3.5 million for the transportation and athletic fields capital reserve.

Sam Schneider, the assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations, said the resolutions merely authorizes the transfer of up to those amounts if needed. He said it won’t be known how much actually needs to be transferred into each account until the books are closed at the end of the school year, June 30.

Resident Laurie Downs said that when added up, “that’s an awful lot of money that was left over from” this school year’s budget.

Falisi thanked

Outgoing school board member Jeff Falisi was given a plaque thanking him for his three years of service on the board Tuesday. Mr. Falisi was defeated in his bid for reelection, and his spot on the board will be taken by Chris Dorr. Board members also accepted the retirement of assistant superintendent Joe Ogeka and approved several administrative moves.

Irrigation donation

The East End Football Club, also known as Riverhead Soccer, will pay for the installation of irrigation on the athletic field at the Riley Avenue Elementary School School in an agreement that would give them preference for use of the field over any other outside organization that seeks to reserve the field.

District use of the field will still have priority over Riverhead Soccer.

The school board approved that agreement Tuesday night.

Cut teachers return

The board on Tuesday approved the probationary return of four teachers whose positions had been eliminated in the budget for the 2013-14 school year. The openings were made possible by the high number of retirements among district teachers this year, officials said.

The four returning teachers are Maureen Hollett, Amanda Jester, Jutta Mariotti and Timothy McCready.

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