Note: This story was update at noon Wednesday to reflect additional edits.
In an effort to provide New Suffolk Common School’s primary students with additional one-on-one help, the school board voted during its Tuesday night meeting to hire a part-time teaching assistant.
The board voted unanimously to hire Karen Costello, a state-certified teacher who previously served as a substitute teacher in the Greenport School District, to assist head teacher Holly Plymale with kindergarten and first-grade students, Superintendent Michael Comanda said.
Ms. Costello has state teaching certification for grades one through six and is currently working toward a master’s degree in special education, Ms. Plymale said during the meeting.
Ms. Plymale said Ms. Costello has been working with the students since their return from February break to see what advantages her additional help might offer.
After the meeting, Mr. Comanda said Ms. Costello will be hired to work three hours a day, five days a week for the rest of the school year. He said he did not immediately have information on what she will be paid.
In other district news, Mr. Comanda will be retiring from the state education pension system but will be rehired to work part-time in New Suffolk. He explained after the meeting that because the New Suffolk district will pay him less than the amount required for him to remain in the benefits program, it will no longer need to cover state retirement contributions associated with his hire.
The hiring change benefits both parties, according to school board president Tony Dill, because Mr. Comanda can begin collecting a pension and the district will save the monthly contributions it had previously been paying into the system.
Finally, the school’s enrichment program received a $1,000 grant from the Allstate Insurance Foundation’s Communities that Care program, with the help of Southold agent Christopher Manfredi, who endorsed the school. The enrichment program is managed by community members and the parents of current students, who are working to raise funds to upgrade the school’s outdated playground and provide unique learning opportunities for current students.