01/30/13 10:00am
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO |

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | The Oysterponds Superintendent Dick Malone said Tuesday the state has approved the district’s APPR plan.

The New York State Education Department has confirmed it approved the Oysterponds Elementary School District’s teacher evaluation plan on Tuesday — 12 days after the district missed a state-imposed deadline.

Although the district’s annual professional performance review plan, known as APPR, has been approved, state officials said Oysterponds will still be penalized for filing late.

It remains unclear how much Oysterponds is in danger of losing. State officials have declined to specify an amount and have said a school district’s annual change in state aid can vary throughout the year based on claims they’ve submitted and individual districts will have more information on what their total claims will be at the end of the year.

Oysterponds Superintendent Dick Malone said Tuesday that although he couldn’t confirm how much the district will lose for missing the Jan. 17 deadline, he described the amount as “no significant loss” because the district was never “entitled to that portion” anyway.

“It was my understanding it was some additional state aid that we did not qualify for,” he said. “There was a rumor that we were losing our regular state aid, but that isn’t true. We’ve gotten our major state aid payments already and there’s no reason to believe we’re not going to get the balance.”

The Oysterponds school district in Orient, one of the smallest schools in the state, is the only district on Long Island that failed to submit teacher evaluation plans on time. The other six school districts across New York slated to lose state aid for missing the deadline include New York City, Harrison, Hamburg, Pine Plains and Fallsburg.

As of September, the district has about 85 students enrolled in its pre-kindergarten through grade six program and sends 88 secondary students to Greenport.

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01/17/13 11:11am

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | Oysterponds Superintendent Dick Malone said the district sent its teacher evaluation plan to the state for final approval today.

The Oysterponds Elementary School District filed its teacher evaluation plan at 11:05 a.m. today, according to Superintendent Dick Malone.

Mr. Malone said the district was able to separate a teacher evaluation plan from the labor contract negotiation process in order to meet a state-imposed deadline.

After the board’s meeting Tuesday night, Mr. Malone said the move will allow the district to submit its annual professional performance reviews plan, known as APPR, to the state for final approval.

“We’re planning to separate [the APPR plan] out from the negotiation process so that it’s not holding us back,” he said Tuesday night.

School districts stand to lose state aid if their APPR plans are not approved by today. When asked how much state aid the district is in danger of losing for non-compliance, Mr. Malone declined to specify.

“We haven’t gotten that far yet,” he said.

The state had signed off on APPR plans from all other North Fork school districts as of Wednesday morning.

State education department spokesman Jonathan Burman said staffers are “available around the clock” today to review submissions.

“We will review any plans as expeditiously as possible, but we will not sacrifice quality for speed,” Mr. Burman said in an interview last week.

When asked if there’s any leeway for school districts currently in contract negotiations with their unions, Mr. Burman said there will be “no exceptions.”

“The law doesn’t provide for that,” he said. “It’s as simple as that.”

The Oysterponds school board has been ironing out a new teacher’s contract to replace the agreement that expired June 30, 2011. Since the school board and teacher’s union have reached an impasse, officials said the matter is being mediated through the state’s Public Employment Relations Board.

Oysterponds union president Donna Dunne wasn’t immediately available Wednesday.

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01/15/13 8:00am

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Tonight’s Oysterponds school board meeting is at 7:30 p.m.

The Oysterponds school board is expected to discuss teacher and secondary school contract negotiations during an executive session scheduled for tonight.

The pre-K through 6th grade school district, which serves the Orient and East Marion communities, is in danger of losing state aid if it fails to have the state approve its annual professional performance reviews plan, known as APPR, by Thursday.

Superintendent Dick Malone said last week the district had sent the state the district’s APPR plan, but hasn’t been able to resubmit it for final approval because the school board is still ironing out a new teacher’s contract to replace the agreement that expired June 30, 2011. Since the school board and teacher’s union have reached an impasse, officials said the matter is being mediated through the state’s Public Employment Relations Board, known as PERB.

“[The state] knows we’re still in contract negotiations with our teachers,” Mr. Malone said. “The plan has to be part of the new contract for the teachers.”

In addition to teacher contracts, the school board is also likely to discuss its secondary school contract negotiations during executive session.

Oysterponds currently sends its students in 7th through 12th grade to Greenport schools. Both districts are currently finalizing a five-year tuition contract.

The Oysterponds school board is scheduled to hold the public portion of its meeting tonight at 7:30 p.m.

Scroll down to view the complete agenda. Read more in the Jan. 17 issue of The Suffolk Times in both our print and electronic editions.

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Oysterponds BOE agenda, Jan. 15, 2013

12/16/12 7:55am
12/16/2012 7:55 AM

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Oysterponds reading specialist Maureen Brisotti talks with residents Thursday about how the district is preparing students for college and careers.

Oysterponds elementary school officials talked with parents and residents Thursday about how the district is preparing students for college and careers by implementing the state’s new set of benchmarks known as “common core” standards.

During the Oysterponds School District’s third installment of its public series “What is 21st century education?” at the elementary school in Orient, superintendent Dick Malone, principal Francoise Wittenburg and the school’s reading specialist, Maureen Brisotti, met with eight residents to explain how the common core program has been integrated into the school’s curriculum.

The topic of Thursday’s educational coffee hour was complex communication skills — reading for meaning and writing to learn.

Ms. Brisotti, who has worked as the school’s reading specialist for the past 18 years, described the new standards as “challenging” but also “exciting.”

“I believe it’s the only way our country will become competitive,” Ms. Brisotti said before the meeting.

The group met in the school’s new literacy center, which was formerly the library. Instead of having only bookshelves, tables and chairs in the space, the room has been separated into sections. A reading area includes futons donated by school board member Deborah Dumont. Another corner of the room has been transformed into a workspace for students to complete projects and homework. There’s a computer area set up in the room, too.

Ms. Brisotti said she believes the new space motivates students to read and write because of its atmosphere — a cozy spot for reading; a section stocked with supplies for creative activities; a designated area to work on the computer — and entices them to work independently.

“Independence builds self-esteem,” Ms. Brisotti said. “The more independent we can help our children be, the more control they will have of their own decisions.”

Orient resident and former Oysterponds school board president Walter Strohmeyer said during the meeting he agrees more rigor is needed in school curriculum, but stressed students should have a strong understanding of reading and writing fundamentals before venturing into more complex studies.

“It’s like building a house,” he said. “If the foundation is poor, its not going to do you any good.”

Ms. Wittenberg agreed and said teachers are cautious of pushing students to read if they aren’t ready because that approach could turn children off from reading. Since a love of reading and writing isn’t typically an issue with students whose parents had read to them when they were young, Ms. Wittenberg said the district is committed to focusing on early childhood education.

The district, which serves the Orient and East Marion communities, first implemented a preschool this year. The pre-K through sixth-grade program sends its secondary students to neighboring Greenport schools.

Mr. Malone said he believes the new reading and writing standards are the “most critical” components to the state’s core curriculum plan.

He said the district is preparing students to be college and career ready by teaching them the difference between facts and commentary. The school is also teaching them how to write analytically about literature, as opposed to writing summaries about what they’ve read.

In addition, Mr. Malone said more non-fiction has been added into the school’s curriculum and students are learning how to research on iPads.

Mr. Malone, a former social studies teacher, said he used to cut out articles from three different newspapers about a single event and would make copies for his students. Now students can instantly learn about current events from multiple news sources by using their iPads. But with the new technology’s convenience also comes with several learning challenges. Mr. Malone said students need to understand the difference between fact and opinion at a younger age because of the amount of unfiltered information available on the Internet and they must be able to detect an author’s bias.

“It used to be ‘We can’t teach the way we taught 10 years ago,’” Mr. Malone said. “I say we can’t teach the way we taught five years ago.”

Oysterponds has also scheduled future meetings to address learning through technology (Jan. 10, 2013) and the importance of early childhood education (Feb. 7). Previous meetings addressed the state’s core curriculum standards and the school’s science, technology, engineering and math program, known as STEM.

For more information, contact the school at (631) 323-2410.

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10/02/12 2:00pm

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | Oysterponds school superintendent Dick Malone, center, will announce details tonight about a new sixth-grade program agreement the district reached Monday with Greenport schools.

Oysterponds school superintendent Dick Malone will announce details tonight about a new sixth-grade program agreement the district reached Monday with Greenport schools.

Greenport school officials decided to change its own secondary school program this school year by moving sixth-graders from the elementary school into the secondary school. Those students will now have an opportunity to take secondary school courses, such as technology and home economics.

Oysterponds offers preschool through sixth grade for East Marion and Orient residents and sends its secondary students to Greenport. Both districts are currently finalizing a five-year tuition contract.

Mr. Malone said the new agreement with Greenport schools allows Oysterponds sixth-graders to also take advantage of secondary school courses.

All 13 Oysterponds sixth-graders will take a home economics course in the morning at Greenport starting in January, he said. Those students will travel to Greenport on buses already available to high school students. The district is expected to provide separate return transportation so its sixth-graders can finish the school day at Oysterponds, Mr. Malone said.

In addition, Mr. Malone said the district’s sixth-graders will now learn health education this year at Oysterponds. Learning health education now will give those students additional time to take higher level courses at Greenport, he said.

“Greenport has plans to beef up its seventh and eighth programs,” Mr. Malone said. “The more we can do to make students more successful in high school, the better prepared they’ll be for college.”

Mr. Malone, who was hired as new superintendent in July after Joan Frisicano resigned, said new plans for Oysterponds sixth-graders started after the first day of school because the issue was first brought to his attention Sept. 20.

Since that time, Mr. Malone said he’s been working to create his sixth-grade program recommendation.

Oysterponds school board president Dorothy-Dean Thomas said she supports the plan because she believes it will benefit Oysterponds students.

“We’ve been trying to work out a way that the Oysterponds sixth-graders can take advantage of [Greenport’s secondary program],” she said. “I’m very pleased both superintendents were able to come to an agreement.”

Mr. Comanda wasn’t immediately available for comment.

Additional details about the new sixth grade program will be announced tonight during a special meeting set for 7 p.m. at the Oysterponds elementary school in Orient.

To read more of this story, pick up a copy of The Suffolk Times on newsstands Thursday or click on the E-Paper.

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