Back to School: Here is what’s new as classes begin this week

Elementary students in the Mattituck-Cutchogue School District will be introduced to world language classes this year and secondary foreign language classes will begin in seventh grade rather than eighth, Superintendent Anne Smith said.

Students across the North Fork head back to school this week. Following is a roundup of some of the other changes parents and students can expect.

Dr. Smith said this year’s classes are part one of a two-year implementation. At a Board of Education meeting in April, president Laura Jens-Smith said the second year of the implementation would include offering world language classes for all grades during the 2018-19 school year.

Dr. Smith said the district, which had 1,131 students enrolled as of mid-August, is also “exploring technology-based study of world languages in the future to provide more than one language option.”

The district will also offer a coding class this year, made possible through a consortium grant from state Sen. Ken LaValle and a partnership with KidOYO — a computer science, engineering and entrepreneurship learning program for students in grades K-12 — and Stony Brook University.

Mattituck, which begins classes Wednesday, Sept. 6, is the lead district for this offering along with five other districts and will teach coding languages in grades 4-8 as well as in some high school classes, Dr. Smith said.

The district is also looking to further support social emotional learning and established a committee for culture and diversity in an “effort to bring community, students, educators and board members together to set and achieve similar goals around inclusiveness in our schools,” Dr. Smith said.

Additionally, the district unveiled a new website this summer and is working with SCOPE to offer after-school day care for families, which is expected start in January.

Lastly, this will also be the first full year that Mattituck-Cutchogue, along with districts in New Suffolk, Southold, Greenport, Oysterponds and Shelter Island, will implement a $68,000 Farm to School grant they were awarded last December by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The districts will work with master farmer Lucy Senesac of Sang Lee Farms in Peconic to expand North Fork schools’ use of fresh and local produce in their school lunch programs.

New Suffolk

Two new part-time teachers have joined the teaching staff at New Suffolk Common School, which opens its doors to students Tuesday, Sept. 5. Christa Ghosio will be the district’s music teacher and Erin Mulrain will serve as physical education teacher, filling positions left open by retirements, school board president Tony Dill said.

Multiple teachers in the district, which currently has 14 enrolled students, have taken a “fairly extensive” course and are certified to begin teaching non-English-speaking students this fall, Mr. Dill said. Previously, the district had to send these students to the Southold School District.


The Southold School District also starts its year Sept. 5, with new programs at the secondary level, including ceramics, history of Long Island and math concepts II. Its college prep course, which taught students about college applications, creating résumés, obtaining scholarships and more, has been replaced with a course titled Senior Seminar.

Like Mattituck, Southold is one of six lead districts offering the KidOYO pilot program, bringing coding classes to the elementary level.

While Southold’s course offerings are expanding, enrollment continues to decline. Superintendent David Gamberg said Tuesday that 765 students were enrolled districtwide. “Every effort has been made to keep staff in line with the enrollment of our student population,” he said.

Some retired staff were not replaced as long as doing so didn’t impact essential services for students, Mr. Gamberg said. The district received a four-year grant to provide a bilingual teacher for new students at the secondary level, he said.


The year ahead in Greenport will see an emphasis on GPO TV, which will expand its program with more students enrolled, Mr. Gamberg said. New classes will include computer science, digital photography and film study.

The school’s garden has undergone a major expansion, thanks to a $10,000 grant from Seeds of Change and nearly $5,000 from Lowe’s. This school year — which begins Wednesday, Sept. 6 — will be the first year students will have access to the completed garden.

Greenport is also one of the six North Fork districts awarded a $68,000 Farm-to-School grant to expand use of fresh, local produce at the school.

Unlike other North Fork districts, however, Greenport’s enrollment continues to grow, with 692 students enrolled as of Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Gamberg said. He added that the goal for this year is to maintain staffing levels by replacing retirees. New staff members added for 2017-18 include secondary social studies, special education and English as a New Language teachers. The elementary science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and art position was also expanded, he said.


The Oysterponds School District is combining its 3- and 4-year-olds in one pre-kindergarten class for the first time this school year. Although the pre-K program was offered to both groups, 3-year-olds were previously taught separately and 4-year-olds were taught with kindergartners, Superintendent Richard Malone said.

Now all preschoolers will learn together in a new pre-K room that includes their own outside playground. Kindergartners and first-graders will learn in the same classroom and second-graders will be taught on their own, Mr. Malone said.

“Two is by itself because we’re operating on the premise that second grade is the last year to really give them the basic skills of reading and math,” he said. “So I want it to be a small group with a lot of personal attention.”

The district has 92 students enrolled in pre-K through grade 6, of which 22 are tuitioned students from other districts. School begins on Sept. 6 for grades K-6 and Sept. 11 for preschoolers. The district also hired a new physical education and health teacher, Ian Kanarvogel.

Photo caption: Southold Elementary School students look through dictionaries donated by Peconic Landing last year. (Credit: Nicole Smith, file)

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