Superintendents on what’s new this school year

09/08/2013 12:00 PM |

North Fork schools

The start of a new school year is an ideal time to roll out changes to curriculum, faculty or initiatives, and in Southold Town, the 2013-14 school year is no exception. From classroom reorganization at Oysterponds to iPads for all high school students in Greenport, local superintendents shared their lists of things that will be new or different in their districts this year, as well as their hopes for the next nine months.

James McKenna



“Mattituck-Cutchogue has established a district-wide theme this year that plays off the AT&T commercials that advertise ‘It’s Not Complicated,’ ” Mr. McKenna said.

“The shared purpose for everyone associated with our schools is not complicated; it is to provide an environment that helps all students learn well, stay safe and participate, in order to graduate. Each day every member of the school district — students, parents, staff and community members — should challenge him- or herself by asking, ‘How am I going to do this to the best of my ability?’ ”

This year, the district will:

• Make improvements to the technology infrastructure within the district, including an upgrade of the wireless capability at the junior-senior high school, plus Windows 7 and Office 2013 upgrades on all district computers. A second computer lab will be installed at Cutchogue East Elementary School for computerized state testing, as well as differentiated instruction.

• Provide more “authentic learning experiences,” like the Farm to School initiative, which emphasizes the importance of agriculture in the community, and the library advisory program, which improves the use of school libraries and public libraries to support curriculum and the joys of reading. The district will also expand vocational training programs for students with disabilities.

• Establish a Junior Human Rights Commission to eliminate bias and discrimination in the schools. Other anti-bullying initiatives will include upperclassmen-facilitated workshops for younger students aimed at creating a safe and respectful learning environment for every student.

• Maintain and improve facilities. The front of the junior high school building has been painted and damage to the roofs of the high school and elementary school caused by superstorm Sandy have been repaired. A bond proposal will be presented to the taxpayers on Oct. 29 for reconstruction of the existing track for school activities as well as community use.

David Gamberg



“We must become learning organizations, flexible and dynamic places that aspire to uphold the values of our community and the integrity of the public school system,” Mr. Gamberg said of the upcoming school year.

This year, the district:

• Has a new athletic director/dean of students, Michael Brostowski.

• Will share an educational technology director, Ryan Case, with Greenport School District. Greenport and Southold have approved several shared-service agreements in recent years to cut costs and offer more programs for students.

• Plans to distribute Google Chromebooks to students for use in grades 5-8.

• Continues to review, monitor and make adjustments when necessary to enhance safety and security throughout the school district.

Richard Malone



“I think there are many exciting and rewarding changes taking place at Oysterponds,” Mr. Malone said. “We are committed as a faculty to provide exciting learning opportunities for the individual, successful achievement of all students.”

This year, the district will:

• Combine each grade and reorganize classrooms. Pre-K and kindergarten are now called primary 1, grades 1 and 2 are now primary 2, grades 3 and 4 are now intermediate 1 and grades 5 and 6 are now intermediate 2. Each class will have multiple teachers and assistants, including literacy, math and enrichment specialists, as well as a technology teacher assistant.

• Have a lunchroom/multipurpose room. The new arrangement will provide more opportunities for students to socialize, as well as serve the PTA.

• Implement a new administrative model. The principal and superintendent will work three days a week and share a common day for meetings and planning.

• See the administrative return of former Oysterponds superintendent Joan Frisicano, who is replacing Françoise Wittenburg as part-time interim principal.

Michael Comanda



“We’re looking to build on our Award Winning Blue Ribbon Elementary School and our U.S. News and World Report Award as one of the best high schools in America,” Mr. Comanda said.

This year, the Greenport school district:

• Has a new athletic director, James Caliendo.

• Is sharing an educational technology director with Southold.

• Will give iPads to all students in grades 9-12 and laptops to students in grades 4-8.

• Has a new playground, new chemistry lab and new physics lab.

• Has a new anti-bullying program.


Mr. Comanda also serves as superintendent of New Suffolk Common School. The district will:

• Split administrative tasks. Head teacher Holly Plymale will be responsible for administrative tasks and the school’s math and science teacher, Sara Campbell, will take the lead on academic and curriculum planning, special education programing, state assessments, DARE and coordinating other lesson plans. English and social studies teacher Nicole Pollina, who is expected to have a baby in January, will be involved with school events.

• Implement a classroom restructuring plan for its 16 pre-K through sixth-grade students. Ms. Campbell, who taught grades 5 and 6, and Ms. Pollina, who taught grades 3 and 4, will now focus on teaching the subjects that are geared toward their teaching certificates. Ms. Campbell’s higher education work focused on math, science and technology, with her undergraduate degree in physical geography. She has been teaching at New Suffolk for the past four years. Ms. Pollina, who has been at New Suffolk for three years, has a Master of Science degree in literacy. They each have dual certification in special education.

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