Morning program proposed

If you’re a Greenport parent who has to drop off your elementary school child early so you can get to work on time, you soon may not have to leave him or her hanging around outside the building until it opens.

Outgoing elementary school principal Paul Read is asking the school district to create an early-morning program, at no cost to taxpayers, that would include activities and breakfast. Parents would be charged $200 a month for each child. Mr. Read estimates he’d need 12 students to make the program viable and, depending on their ages, activities could include group games, songs and exercises aimed at improving the fine motor skills of young children.

The morning activities would be the initial part of what could eventually become a self-sustaining Greenport community education program, Mr. Read told the Greenport Board of Education at its June 9 meeting.

“I think it provides parents that peace of mind,” Mr. Read said.

“I love the idea of a community program,” Superintendent Michael Comanda said. But he asked for time to run it by the district’s legal counsel to be sure the program could be covered under the school’s current insurance policy.

“It’s going to be a very frugal program,” Mr. Read said. The monthly fee would cover the cost of breakfast for students whose family incomes don’t qualify them for a free or reduced-cost breakfast; the district is already paid for those meals by the federal government.

Mr. Read noted that because of anticipated lower enrollment in September, the school expects to have two free classrooms, one of which could accommodate the morning program. Staff members would be paid from the $200 fee, leaving the school to pick up the cost of electricity and some minor office work.

Mr. Read said he started a similar program in Rocky Point, where it eventually was expanded to include a summer camp, theater, athletics and other components.

School officials will send notices home to parents in students’ backpacks to determine if there is sufficient interest in launching the program in September.


Could a New York State retirement incentive program enable Greenport to bring back two popular teachers who lost their jobs as of September because of budget cuts?

It’s too early to say, Mr. Comanda said in responding to that question last week. The state program would enable teachers who might have been interested in a buyout to take it if they step up and agree to retire by Aug. 31.

Because the district lacked a sufficient fund balance to offer a retirement package this year except for those teachers for whom it already had been planned, it couldn’t use a retirement incentive on its own. Under the state program, Greenport wouldn’t have to pay additional money toward retirement benefits until March 2012, Mr. Comanda said. Even then, the district could spread its payments over a five-year period.

What that might mean to the fates of English teacher Luke Conti and gym teacher Todd Gulluscio, who were to be laid off at the end of the current school year because of reductions in class sizes and budget cuts, remains to be seen, Mr. Comanda said.

“We will review all personnel options,” he said.

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