Gray’s back at Oysterponds

Oysterponds school board member Thom Gray

A week after Thom Gray tendered his resignation from the Oysterponds Board of Education, he was back at the table Wednesday night, March 23, with little explanation of why he left or decided to return.

In the absence of board president Deborah Dumont, who was ill, board vice president Kathy Syron said she and Ms. Dumont had met with Mr. Gray during the week to find out why he had resigned and to prevail upon him to rescind that resignation.

The discussion centered on issues and concerns Mr. Gray had on his board service. Mr. Gray said only that those concerns were “of a personal nature.”

His return to the board table was the one definitive piece of business that transpired at the meeting, which dealt mostly with budget and hiring issues.

Board members were split on whether to hire an interim part-time superintendent as quickly as possible. Their goal is to hire a permanent part-time superintendent by July 1. During a Monday, April 4 public forum they hope to hear the community’s thoughts on the superintendent’s and school principal’s posts.

Acting superintendent Joan Frisicano has been carrying both titles since Dr. Stuart Rachlin left the district. Board member Walter Strohmeyer argued that Ms. Frisicano needs relief from some of her responsibilities. But board member Krista de Kerillis argued that with relatively little time before July, the district should proceed with just Ms. Frisicano.

Ms. Frisicano has uncovered a number of areas in which the district is having to make changes because of noncompliance with state requirements, according to board member Linda Goldsmith, who believes the district would benefit by having someone else as superintendent to continue the compliance work.

The board came to no determination.

Also unresolved was the issue of when the board will vote on a resolution authorizing Greenport to educate Oysterponds secondary school students for the 2011-12 school year. According to a resolution adopted several months ago, Oysterponds is to decide in April whether Greenport or another district will receive its seventh- through 12th-graders.

Two months ago the board told former board member Carl Demarest that Greenport was the choice for the next school year. Although the budget proposal under review lists Greenport as the receiving school, the board approved that with a formal vote.

On the budget front, board members viewed a proposal to raise spending by 3.58 percent, from $5.3 million to $5.7 million. Still to be resolved in how much to spend on professional development, an issue board members have been debating for several weeks. The budget proposal calls for a $50,000 expenditure next year, up sharply from $2,000 this year.

The argument for the large increase is to prepare teachers to deal with the new state Response to Intervention program, which replaces academic intervention services for students struggling with their studies. There are also planned changes in science, reading and math programs for which the teachers will have to be trained, according to Ms. Frisicano. The increase was intended to be a first step in an initiative of several years.

But Mr. Strohmeyer questioned why some of the training can’t covered by coursework teachers already take, for which they receive both course credit and extra pay. Ms. Goldsmith said there aren’t enough such courses.

[email protected]