01/26/15 8:00am
01/26/2015 8:00 AM
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | The Greenport school board approved Superintendent Michael Comanda's retirement request at Wednesday night's meeting.

Michael Comanda, who retired as Greenport’s superintendent, will take over the New Suffolk budget this year. (Credit: Jen Nuzzo, file)

New Suffolk school board president Tony Dill confirmed this week he won’t prepare the next spending plan as he’s done in years past.

That’s because the district’s part-time superintendent, Michael Comanda, is now available to take over the process.  (more…)

06/13/14 10:00am
06/13/2014 10:00 AM
Jonathan Nyilas, 9, of Cutchogue and Gabriel Perez Colombo, 8, of Cutchogue have helped to protect piping plovers. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

Jonathan Nyilas, 9, of Cutchogue and Gabriel Perez Colombo, 8, of Cutchogue have helped to protect piping plovers. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

North Fork children have teamed up to help protect the piping plover, a seaside bird so tiny it often goes unnoticed by beachgoers.

Every April through August, these federally threatened — and in New York State, endangered — birds nest on the bare sand of local beaches, where they’re subjected to weather fluctuations, natural predators and people and their pets.  (more…)

04/16/14 10:00am
04/16/2014 10:00 AM
New Suffolk Common School board president Tony Dill presenting his preliminary spending plan during Tuesday night’s regularly scheduled board meeting. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

New Suffolk school board president Tony Dill presenting his preliminary spending plan during Tuesday night’s regular meeting. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

New Suffolk school board president Tony Dill presented his preliminary 2014-15 spending plan Tuesday night, which carries an estimated 1.7 percent, or $13,000, increase to the tax levy.

(more…)

03/12/14 9:00am
03/12/2014 9:00 AM
(Credit: Carrie Miller)

(Credit: Carrie Miller)

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. (more…)

01/15/14 9:00am
01/15/2014 9:00 AM
CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Newly appointed business manager Babette Cornine (left) at her first New Suffolk board meeting Tuesday night.

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Newly appointed business manager Babette Cornine (left) at her first New Suffolk board meeting Tuesday night.

Less than a month after the release of a state comptroller’s audit that found several issues in the handling of finances within the New Suffolk Common School District’s budget preparation, as well as the resignation of a longtime treasurer — the district has hired a new part-time employee to take on managing the school’s finances.

And she has a familiar face.

Current Greenport school board member Babette Cornine was appointed to fill the district’s newly created business manager position at New Suffolk’s regularly scheduled board meeting Tuesday night. She’ll be taking on the responsibilities of the district treasurer, and them some, officials said.

Ms. Cornine said she held the business manager position for the Greenport School District from 1991 to 2006, handling many of the district’s financial obligations including payroll and reporting finances to the state.

She said she has also held a position as a customer service representative at Bridgehampton National Bank.

“I think there are some things you never forget,” Ms. Cornine said of the skills she had learned at Greenport schools. “Every school district is the same, and even though this is a smaller district they still have to do all the same things as a larger district does as far as reporting to the state.”

Superintendent Michael Comanda, who also serves as superintendent of Greenport School District — at least until after he steps down at the end of this school year — said although Ms. Cornine oversees his position in the Greenport school district, he does not feel there are any conflicts of interest at play, as each district has its “own unique setup.”

“I think it’s actually advantageous because we have an established work relationship,” he said. “I see no reason why this can’t be successful.”

On the findings of the comptroller’s audit, Tony Dill, who prepares the school’s annual budget in his role as school board president, said “there are ways in which we label certain items that are not consistent with the rules and regulations.”

“When you really understand what’s going on here, it’s very technical stuff. They are not saying, ‘No you had no business spending that money,’ they are saying, ‘No, you shouldn’t have called it this,’ Mr. Dill said.

In Ms. Cornine’s newly created business manager role, district officials said they hope to gain a better understanding of such rules and regulations.

Ms. Cornine started the position Jan. 1, already instituting some changes to the way finances are formatted in monthly reports, listing out expenses rather than lumping them together, for example — following recommendations from the comptroller’s office.

And although she said she feels knowledgeable in the preparation of finances for the state after her time at Greenport, she added “you can never say you know everything, because everything changes so quickly.”

To ensure the district’s monetary reports are in line with technical reporting aspects deemed legal by the state, Ms. Cornine said she will be attending a state-run finance training course, as well as meetings at BOCES to learn from other school business officials.

“We were trying to find someone who had a significant amount of experience in accounting,” Mr. Dill said. “She knows all the fundamentals, and came with suggestions for modifying things in ways that can be done.”

Mr. Dill said there was interest in the business manager position from several candidates.

“I think it is a good find for us,” Mr. Dill said. “She is encouraging.”

Ms. Cornine’s current term will run until June 30, and she will be receiving $6,500 for her time, according to the meeting agenda.

Mr. Dill said the salary is higher than that paid to the district’s outgoing treasurer, Diana Foster; but that Ms. Cornine will take on additional responsibilities including the state education’s department’s annual financial report, which the school had hired an outside accounting firm to prepare (using the treasurer’s financial records) in the past, “costing the better part of $1,000 alone,” Mr. Dill said.

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12/11/13 11:00am
12/11/2013 11:00 AM
CARRIE MILLER PHOTO |  District Superintendent Michael Comanda discussing the state Comptroller's draft audit report Tuesday night.

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | District Superintendent Michael Comanda discussing the state Comptroller’s draft audit report Tuesday night.

New Suffolk Common School officials discussed the status of the state Comptroller’s audit of the district — saying they are not happy with how the draft report was written — during the board’s regular meeting Tuesday night.

Superintendent Michael Comanda said the report is now in the draft stages and that district officials disagree with some of the language and characterizations used in the report.

“We agree with the technical findings, and we have already begun to implement some of the recommended changes. We did however disagree a little with how the report was written,” Mr. Comanda said.

While Mr. Comanda did not discuss the specifics, he said the district has drafted its response letter, and “ [he hopes] they will take our recommendations to heart when they draft the final report.”

Brian Butry, deputy press secretary for the state Comptroller, said only that the office could not comment on the audit until the final report is released.

The final report is expected to be issued by Albany around the first of the year, board president Tony Dill said.

• The longtime school district treasurer announced her resignation this week.

The board accepted the resignation of Diana Foster, who has served as the district’s treasurer for the past 12 years. The resignation is effective Dec. 30.

Ms. Foster said she has been offered a full-time librarian position at the Mattituck-Laurel Library, where she has also worked part-time for the past 10 years.

“It’s a good thing for me, but I appreciate being part of this school for the past 12 years,” Ms. Foster said to the board. “The learning environment you have created and work so hard to create is just so wonderful for the students.”

Ms. Foster said she will be on hand to help in the transition of the district’s next treasurer.

The school board also approved an anonymous donation of $800 to be used towards woodchips for the school’s playground.

The board’s next regular meeting is scheduled for Jan. 14.

[email protected]

11/13/13 11:48am
11/13/2013 11:48 AM
TIM KELLY FILE PHOTO | The district is looking into getting a camera to help improve school security at the front of the building.

TIM KELLY FILE PHOTO | The district is looking into getting a camera to help improve school security at the front of the building.

The New Suffolk Common School District is looking into getting a camera to improve school security at the building’s front entrance.

At last night’s regular board meeting, superintendent Michael Comanda said the district has priced out a camera system, which would be installed to provide the school receptionist a clear view of the school’s front doors.

The school already has two security cameras overlooking the backyard playground area. School president Tony Dill said the school would like an additional view of the front during school hours.

In other school news, Nicole Pollina, the school’s English and social studies teacher, will be going on a three-month maternity leave following the winter break.

Longtime physical education teacher Peggy Straub, who’s part-time, will be replacing Ms. Pollina during leave, and the board has appointed Amy Green, a physical education teacher, to fill the vacated part-time position. Ms. Green will be receiving a total of $2,400 for the three-month leave replacement.

The superintendent also appointed a new part-time English second language teacher Sandra Rosanti to help students for one hour a week every Wednesday, at a rate of $50 an hour.

The district is also looking for a part-time music teacher. The school’s current teacher, Deanna Beyer, has accepted a full-time position at The Ross School in East Hampton.

[email protected]