05/27/15 5:11pm
05/27/2015 5:11 PM

With about a month to go until their contract expires, teachers in the Southold school district have a new four-year deal.

After the school board unanimously approved the agreement at last Wednesday night’s meeting, Superintendent David Gamberg said the teachers union had agreed to “modest raises and a slowing down of the step schedule.”

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05/24/15 10:00am
05/24/2015 10:00 AM
Southold students practicing hands-only CPR during gym class. (Credit: Chris Manfredi)

Southold students practicing hands-only CPR during gym class. (Credit: Chris Manfredi)

Members of the Southold Fire Department-American Heart Association Training Center taught all Southold students in the 7th through 12th grades what’s called hands-only CPR this past week.

The students were taught hands-only CPR, which doesn’t include mouth-to-mouth, during their Tuesday and Wednesday physical education classes. (more…)

05/24/15 6:00am
(Credit: Jen Nuzzo photos)

Oysterponds Elementary School students Brynn Dinizio (left) and Makayla Harvey ask questions using sign language. The enrichment workshop is part of the district’s Reach for the Stars program. (Credit: Jen Nuzzo photos)

A group of children at Oysterponds Elementary School had no problem finding their assigned seats on the carpet during the special workshop.

“Four, two, three, two, three, two — Noelle!” said 6-year-old Noelle as she ran her finger across an index card. “I found mine!”

She and her classmates were reading Braille, a lesson plan that’s part of a new enrichment program called “Reach for the Stars” at the pre-K through sixth-grade district in Orient.

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05/22/15 3:00pm
05/22/2015 3:00 PM
Southold High School 2002 graduate Pete Castillo, owner of Castillo Scapes in Southold, donated $25,000 for Southold Elementary School's amphitheater. (Credit: Jen Nuzzo photos)

Southold High School graduate Peter Castillo (’02), owner of Castillo Scapes in Southold, donated $25,000 for Southold Elementary School’s amphitheater. (Credit: Jen Nuzzo photos)

Peter Castillo first learned to speak English as an 8-year-old at Southold Elementary School after immigrating to the U.S. from Nicaragua. That experience inspired the local business owner to help other students achieve their dreams.

To do so, Mr. Castillo donated an amphitheater — not just the money for it, he also designed and built it.

The elementary school held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday to unveil its “Magical Playscape Amphitheater,” an outdoor area where students can perform.

Mr. Castillo, a 2002 Southold High School graduate, is the owner of Castillo Scapes in Southold, a masonry construction and design company that also has a showroom at North Fork Pools in Mattituck.

Mr. Castillo said he felt honored when the school approached him a year ago about the project because he loves the district and local community. He donated $25,000 toward the amphitheater’s construction.

“I’ve lived here for almost my whole life,” he said. “I was young and didn’t know any English when I came to this school. The school helped and supported me.

“I just love this place.”

Mr. Castillo said his father first came to the U.S. in search of a better life for his family and started a landscaping company, Castillo Landscaping in Southold, which also volunteered to lay down sod around the amphitheater.

Other local businesses that donated labor and material include: Joseph Silvestro Construction in Southold,
Atlantic Fence & Gate in East Quogue, Briarcliff Landscaping and Sod in Peconic and Laurel Stone Supply Plus in Mattituck.

Mr. Castillo has dedicated the amphitheater in the memory of his friend Lucas Pasko, a Polish immigrant who was also his classmate in the school’s English as a Second Language program.

Mr. Pasko died five years ago in a tragic accident after his friend accidentally shot him with a rifle.

“I know he was impacted by the ESL program,” Mr. Castillo said. “I thought this would be perfect to dedicate it to him because he loved it here, too.”

At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, students and teachers gathered in and around the amphitheater and took turns thanking Mr. Castillo for his generosity through music, dance and words.

Superintendent David Gamberg said he’s always envisioned an amphitheater at the school because he believes outdoor learning opportunities are crucial to a student’s education.

“Our appreciation is so great, it’s hard to find the right words,” he said to Mr. Castillo. “We are here to make a statement about the importance of play, about the importance of authentic learning that can not be measured on a score.”

Over the past few years, the district’s playground committee and the Southold School Educational Foundation have been working toward creating outdoor learning opportunities.

The amphitheater is located next to the school’s 7,000-square foot garden, which not only provides fresh produce for students in the cafeteria, but also acts as an outdoor classroom for science, math and literacy lessons.

In addition, there are sandboxes and art easels nearby.

The foundation is now fundraising to install an life-size chessboard outside. [For information on purchasing an engraved brick, visit www.bricksrus.com/order.ssef or www.southoldef.org]

“Having older students help younger children develop intellectual skills by playing chess is a very healthy activity,” said Judi Fouchet, the foundation’s secretary and the school board’s vice president.

Ms. Fouchet added: “It is my hope that you will use this beautiful amphitheater to create, imagine and perform for many years to come.”

The district is also planning to build a “giant Mother Goose Shoe sculpture” where students can read fairy tales to each other.

Mr. Castillo’s sister, Dina MacDonald, said she’s very proud of her brother’s accomplishments and believes the school and community’s support in providing opportunities for imagination has continued to nurture students’ success.

“This is the true meaning of the American dream,” she said.

jnuzzo@timesreview.com

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05/19/15 12:00pm

School budget and board of education votes are on Tuesday, as voters in all five North Fork districts will head to the polls. They open up from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. in every district except Greenport, which is open from 2 to 8 p.m.

GREENPORT

Budget: $16.9 million

Estimated tax levy increase: 2.52%

The Greenport School District is proposing a $16.9 million budget carrying an estimated tax levy increase of 2.52 percent, which district officials say is $1 below the state-mandated tax cap.

The district is allowed to propose a budget that exceeds the 2 percent limit without needing 60 percent voter approval because certain expenses like capital improvements are exempt from the tax levy cap.

The proposed spending hike of about 3.37 percent maintains student programs and includes funds for contractual salary and benefit increases, state-mandated ESL services and restoration of the district’s summer school program, among other expenses.

Total costs for regular classroom instruction — including teacher salaries, textbooks and supplies — are projected to rise nearly 5.9 percent to $4.5 million. The district also plans to spend about $76,200 on textbooks for secondary students — more than double the amount allocated for the current school year, according to the proposed budget.

As for benefits, the total amount for district employees is estimated to cost nearly $5 million next year, a 2.2 percent hike over the current school year.

TBabette Cornine (incumbent)

Ms. Cornine said she’s pleased with how the district has cut costs and enhanced programs through shared services with the Southold school district.

“Even though we are a small school, we encounter the same problems as the larger districts to the west,” she said. “To cope with these challenges, we need to continue to be creative in our financial and educational planning to meet the new mandates from the state education department.”

Ms. Cornine is a past PTA president and has volunteered with North Fork Community Theatre for the past several years. She’s lived in Southold Town for 49 years and has in Greenport for 31 years. Both of her children attended school in the district and she has also worked in the district’s business office.

Ms. Cornine has served on the school board for the past three years and believes her experience working in the district helps the board address students’ financial and educational needs.

TDaniel Creedon (incumbent)

Mr. Creedon has served on the school board for the past six years. He’d like to continue serving, in part, to find ways of enhancing programs through shared services, particularly in recent partnerships with the Southold school district.

He said he’s happy about the district’s recent success at cutting costs while increasing student opportunities through shared programs, including athletics and drama.

“We have done this while at the same time insisting that each school district maintain its identity and unique experience for kids,” he said.

Mr. Creedon has lived in Greenport for 24 years and has three children. He’s attended school board meetings for the past 16 years — ever since his eldest child entered kindergarten.

He’s been teaching high school earth science in the Islip school district for 27 years and is a volunteer with the Greenport Fire Department and Rotary Youth Exchange.

CHECK OUT THE MATTITUCK-CUTCHOGUE BUDGET AND CANDIDATES:

05/17/15 6:00am
05/17/2015 6:00 AM

• Nina Senesac Crowley, a 2000 graduate of Mattituck High School, recently received an Excellence in Outcomes Research for the Emerging Researcher award from the Weight Management Dietetic Practice Group and the Academy of Nutrition. Ms. Crowley, a bariatric surgery dietician with the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, holds a bachelor’s degree in nutrition science from Cornell and a master’s in health care policy and management from SUNY/Stony Brook.

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