02/12/14 6:00am
02/12/2014 6:00 AM
RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | Oysterponds Superintendent Richard Malone, left, and school board president Dorothy-Dean Thomas, right, discuss the veterans tax exemption at Tuesday's school board meeting.

Oysterponds School District Superintendent Richard Malone, left, and school board president Dorothy-Dean Thoma discuss the veterans tax exemption at Tuesday’s school board meeting. (Photo by Rachel Young)

The Oysterponds school board decided Tuesday it needs more information before voting to approve a new veteran tax exemption proposal.

During a public hearing to discuss the legislation, school board president Dorothy-Dean Thomas said she would have no problem voting for an exemption that would give veterans living in the district property tax breaks, but can’t since she believes the rules regarding the exemption “change every day,” making it impossible for the board to know what it would be voting for.

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12/18/13 9:00am
CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | The Oysterponds school board listens to a presentation about a new project that is now part of the school's enrichment  program Tuesday night.

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | The Oysterponds Board of Education during a hearing about the school’s enrichment program Tuesday night.

The Oysterponds school board approved a salary increase and contract extension for both part-time Superintendent Richard Malone and principal Joan Frisicano during its meeting Tuesday night.

Mr. Malone’s contract was set to expire at the end of the school year, but will now be extended for two years — through June 2016.

Formerly the school’s administrative consultant, Mr. Malone was hired in July 2012 to replace Ms. Frisicano as the school’s superintendent after she resigned.

Mr. Malone will receive a salary increase of 1.5 percent for each of the two years, as well as a one-time signing bonus of $4,000 to be paid by year’s end. He is currently paid an annual part-time salary of $60,000 for 100 days of service, according to his existing contract.

In June, the district rehired Ms. Frisicano to serve as interim principal while it searched for a permanent replacement for then outgoing principal Françoise Wittenburg. Ms. Frisicano’s contract has been extended by one year, until June 30, 2015, and she will also receive a 1.5 percent salary increase. She is currently being paid an annual part-time salary of $62,500 for 125 days of service, according to minutes from a prior board meeting.

Although the contact extensions were approved by the board, they were not agreed upon unanimously.

Long-time board member Linda Goldsmith chose to abstain from voting on Mr. Malone’s extension, saying afterward that she believed the board should have spent more time discussing the contract extension.

Ms. Goldsmith chose to vote in opposition to Ms. Frisicano’s extension and declined to say why.

In other board news:

• The board has scheduled phase two of its Strategic Planning Committee Report, to be held Feb. 4. at 7 p.m.

• The board approved the schedule for its budget workshops to be held at 7 p.m. on Feb.25, March 11, and March 25.

• The school has exciting news in the classroom, where all students, grades kindergarten through sixth grade, will be broken up into groups to work with area business owners and artists on a number of different projects to benefit the community. It is a new part of the school’s enrichment program, “Reach for the Stars,” said Sue Poveromo, program director, while describing the project during Tuesday night’s meeting.

Students were able to choose between projects in jewelry design, soccer, robotics, animals, food design, photography, or movie making; and have been paired into groups where they will learn how to perform a service, and then pick different recipients in the community to benefit from the student’s work.

Students choosing photography, for example, will learn how to create impact posters or PowerPoint presentations for groups like the North Fork Animal Welfare League or environmental non-profits, Ms. Poveromo said.

“It is only going to be a successful experience,” said Mr. Malone, after hearing about the project.

More than a dozen area businesspeople have volunteered to work with the children and teach them how to provide the service of their choice; including Jerri Woodhouse of Taste of the North Fork, Chef Noah Schwartz of Noah’s in Greenport, Holly Mastrangelo of HotShots Photography and Thomas Bush of Cold Blooded Playthings of Rocky Point.

• The board’s next meeting is scheduled for Jan. 21., at 7:30 p.m.

12/18/12 1:00pm
12/18/2012 1:00 PM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | The Oysterponds Board of Education meeting is tonight at 7:30 p.m.

Oysterponds superintendent Dick Malone is expected to give a student enrollment update at tonight’s regular school board meeting in Orient.

According to tonight’s agenda, Mr. Malone will discuss the findings of a new enrollment committee report. The Board of Education agreed in September to form the committee in order to develop a five-year enrollment projection.

Mr. Malone has said the committee is gathering information from local hospitals, Southold Town and Suffolk County in order to develop potential solutions if projections forecast dwindling student enrollment.

In September, he said the district has 173 enrolled students, 85 at the elementary level and 88 attending Greenport and the district’s newly created preschool program has seven students.

Last year there were 157 students in the district, 84 elementary and 73 secondary. Although student enrollment is up this year, the district has experienced a downward trend over the past few years.

While 2010 census data shows a total district population of 1,669 — an increase of 204 since 2000 — school district numbers show student enrollment has decreased by nearly 12 percent over the past three years.

In addition to discussing student enrollment, the school board is likely to schedule the following budget workshops: Feb. 26, March 5, March 12, and April 2.

Scroll down to view the complete agenda. Read more in the Dec. 20 issue of The Suffolk Times in both our print and electronic editions.

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Oysterponds school board meeting agenda, Dec. 18, 2012

12/10/12 5:00pm

KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | The Oysterponds Board of Education held a special meeting today at the elementary school in Orient to discuss teacher contract negotiations.

The Oysterponds school board took no action today following a two hour executive session in which it discussed its teacher contract negotiations.

The school board has been ironing out a new teacher’s contract to replace the agreement that expired during the 2010-2011 school year. 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.

After the special meeting at the elementary school in Orient, school board vice president Janice Caufield said there has been two mediation sessions held so far and the school board “may or may not” schedule a third, which is the most number of PERB sessions it’s currently entitled to. The school board had no further comment since the negotiations are ongoing.

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09/22/12 1:55pm

KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | In a 2010 photo, Oysterponds teacher Jenny Schoenstein helps a kindergartner with a writing exercise.

Touching on a number of topics earlier this week, the Oysterponds school board decided to seek help in developing a five-year enrollment projection, move forward with facility improvements and schedule monthly community meetings.

During the board’s regular meeting in Orient Tuesday, Superintendent Dick Malone recommended creating a committee to project student enrollment by gathering information from local hospitals, Southold Town and Suffolk County. The committee will also develop potential solutions if projections forecast dwindling student enrollment.

“I think we should start looking at what those options should be with the changing enrollment,” Mr. Malone said.

The district is also considering projecting its financial position over the next five years, as well as finalizing a five-year employment contract with its teachers and a tuition agreement with Greenport for that same period. Oysterponds offers preschool through sixth-grade for East Marion and Orient residents and sends its secondary students to Greenport.

Mr. Malone said the district has 173 enrolled students, 85 at the elementary level and 88 attending Greenport. The district’s newly created preschool program has seven students.

Last year there were 157 students in the district, 84 elementary and 73 secondary. Although student enrollment is up this year, the district has experienced a downward trend over the past few years.

While 2010 census data shows a total district population of 1,669 — an increase of 204 since 2000 — school district numbers show student enrollment has decreased by nearly 12 percent over the past three years.

The Oysterponds student enrollment projection committee will comprise school staff and school board members. Board vice president Janice Caufield volunteered to join the committee, and the board also agreed to ask member Linda Goldsmith, absent from Tuesday’s meeting, to join.

The committee report is due by the board’s Dec. 18 meeting, Mr. Malone said.

In addition to tackling student enrollment, the school board authorized various facility improvement projects.

The district has purchased a video intercom and door release system to improve student safety and plans to install new flooring in the school’s main lobby. In addition, the district will purchase two water bottle filling stations, a new version of the traditional water fountain.

Mr. Malone also announced details of upcoming public meetings featuring discussions to keep the community informed about the district’s vision. Topics will include core curriculum; the school’s science, technology, engineering and math program, known as STEM; reading and writing; learning with iPads; and early childhood education.

In addition, Mr. Malone said, “I think the community should come into the school during the day to actually see the children. It’s one thing for [Oysterponds principal Francoise Wittenburg] and I to talk about the program, but I think there’s a greater value when people come in and actually see the children in the program.”

Orient resident and former Oysterponds school board president Walter Strohmeyer said during the meeting he’s pleased with the community meetings plan.

“I wanted to have something like that years ago,” he said.

The first meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 11, at 10 a.m.

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09/18/12 6:00pm

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

The Oysterponds Board of Education is expected to discuss proposed facility improvements during its monthly meeting tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the elementary school in Orient.

According to the agenda, school superintendent Dick Malone is recommending the district purchase a video intercom and door release system in order to improve student safety.

In addition, Mr. Malone will ask the school board to approve the purchasing of two water bottle filling stations.

Scroll down to view the complete agenda. Read more about this story on Aug. 20 in The Suffolk Times or on our E-Paper.

Oysterponds BOE meeting agenda, Sept. 18, 2012

10/19/11 2:00pm
10/19/2011 2:00 PM

Rumors in the community about a planned high school forum have had residents concerned that the discussion would deal with whether or not to sign a contract with Greenport for educating Oysterponds junior and senior high school students in future years.

But school board member Krista de Kerillis dispelled that Tuesday night, saying the purpose of the forum is to determine what Oysterponds wants from whatever district might educate Oysterponds students in the future. The discussion would then guide the board in putting out a request for proposals to any area school districts that might be interested in the future contract.

“It’s not about a particular school,” Ms. de Kerillis said.

Greenport wasn’t open to changing the agreement it has for the current school year because its budget for this year has been based on expectations of what it will receive from Oysterponds, said board member Debra Dumont. But Greenport Superintendent Michael Comanda said he’s told Ms. Dumont he’s open to negotiations that wouldn’t have to be tied to the Seneca Falls formula.

Lisa DeLuca, who has a child at Greenport this year, suggested that the board reach out to parents whose children are in Greenport about what courses and services they would like to see from whatever district Oysterponds contracts with in the future. She offered to assist in helping the board to reach those parents, saying it would take a hands-on approach to get them involved in the discussion.

Board members acknowledged the offer, without making any decision about how to proceed.

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03/08/11 12:30pm
03/08/2011 12:30 PM

Oysterponds Board of Education members were “dreaming big” last week at their first budget planning session for the 2011-12 school year, as board president Deborah Dumont put it during the process.

Rather than burying themselves immediately in details, she said at the March 2 session, the board was starting the process by exploring the big picture of what it wants the district to look like in the years ahead.

The goal, according to Ms. Dumont, was to avoid developing a line-by-line budget without a good understanding of major expenses that will be important to the overall educational process.

At the top of the board’s wish list is a heavy investment in professional development of staff. It’s an area that has been flat in the district’s budget for several years, Ms. Dumont said. It would take hiring a professional consultant to work with administrators, staff and board members to develop an appropriate program, she said.

“We want our school to be a shining star,” acting superintendent and principal Joan Frisicano said.

That takes great leadership from the top, board member Linda Goldsmith said, pointing out that Ms. Frisicano is an interim appointee and the board will need to choose carefully in hiring a part-time superintendent and full-time principal.

What board member Krista de Kerillis wants is for every student to be “pushed” to attain at his maximum capacity. Board member Dorothy-Dean Thomas wants more integrated learning so that the students’ focus isn’t shifted every 20 minutes or so.

Concentration on staff development can help achieve these goals, Ms. Dumont said, but it won’t come cheap.

What’s more, the district has to incorporate the new Response to Intervention program to serve students in need of extra academic help. The program codifies what research-based programs can be employed in the teaching process, leaving little room for individual creativity by teachers, Ms. Frisicano said.

“The more the state interferes, the more our kids are failing,” Ms. Goldsmith said.

“As a country, we have become so testing focused,” Ms. Dumont said. Students are learning to answer questions, but not necessarily to understand material, she said.

Board members want to better involve parents in children’s learning, but recognize that many work and can’t spare time during the school day. Toward that end, they want to expand their website so parents can get a handle on what their children are learning and communicate with teachers and administrators online.

Even as the board looked at the big picture, Ms. Dumont said, a tight rein on the numbers will be crucial, especially because it seems likely the state will soon cap all property tax increases at 2 percent.

But the district is in good shape financially, according to Ms. Dumont, and she  credited her predecessor as president, Walter Strohmeyer, with good fiscal planning. The district has almost $1 million in reserves, some of which can be applied to next year’s budget, she said. She cautioned the board not to depend too much on reserves, nevertheless, because they won’t always be available to make ends meet.

Thanks to cutbacks achieved in the past year — and Mr. Strohmeyer’s insistence last year that the district count on only a third of what it expected to get in state aid — the district probably will not have to spend the $400,000 in reserve funds applied to the current budget, Ms. Dumont said.

Other priorities mentioned at the session included improving the school’s science program, enhancing music and art and starting foreign language instruction for the elementary school students.

With contract talks under way with its teachers, salaries and instructional expenses were slated as topics for the Wednesday, March 9, budget discussion. In the following weeks, board members will be discussing transportation and building and grounds and on March 30, plan an overall budget review.

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