Returning New Suffolk students can expect numerous changes in the three-room schoolhouse this year.
Four teachers left the school this past summer and three replacements have been hired. Christina Ruschin, a full-time teaching assistant, is replacing Karen Costello. Kristin Andrejack, a part-time physical education teacher, is replacing Amy Greene. The third position, for an art teacher, is expected to be filled next week.
“We’re quite hopeful that it’s going to work out very, very well,” said school board president Tony Dill.
Ms. Ruschin worked with New Suffolk principal Dr. Chris Gallagher at Southold school district about 15 years ago, Mr. Dill said. She also has a certification as a reading specialist — something he said will “complement our full-time teachers very well.”
As for Ms. Andrejack, Ms. Greene recommended her for hire when she put in her resignation.
Mr. Gallagher said he was prepared to recommend someone for the vacant art teacher position at this Tuesday’s school board meeting.
The school is still looking to fill two other part-time positions for a foreign-language teacher and lunch monitor.
“We still have some open positions we need to fill because we had some last-second defections and we need to cover those bases,” Mr. Dill said. “So we’re working very hard to see if we can do that.”
Another potential staffing change has yet to be determined. In April, it was announced that the school cut the position of Martha Kennelly, a 21-year veteran teacher, in order to cover a $160,000 gap in the budget. She has since filed an appeal with the state commissioner of education.
If the commissioner sides with Ms. Kennelly, the school will be required to reinstate her, thus creating another budget issue.
“What would happen is that we would have to terminate the services of three of our full-time teachers to cover the salary we would owe Martha Kennelly,” Mr. Dill said. “We would go back from four full-time teachers to two.”
The school will also begin using a block schedule this year, extending some class times from 45 minutes to 90 minutes.
In the morning, students will have 90-minute English Language Arts and mathematics classes. In the afternoon, they will have hour-long classes for social studies and science. Art, music and physical education classes will range from 45 minutes to an hour. With longer ELA classes, Mr. Gallagher said, students will have ample time to read and then discuss and write about what they read.
“It’s hard for students to start and stop six, seven or eight times a day with different subjects,” Mr. Gallagher said. “You can also get more in-depth learning. You can spend some time introducing a concept and you can do some practice and introduce new situations.”