10/16/13 12:05pm
RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO |

RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | The Oysterponds school board has approved an agreement with the state to install new school speed zone signs.

New school speed zone signs are coming to Main Road in Orient near the Oysterponds Elementary School.

Superintendent Richard Malone said during Tuesday night’s school board meeting that the updated signs are needed because he’s seen cars speeding by the elementary school.

The current 30-mph signs are in effect weekdays between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. The town’s speed limit outside the school zone is 40 mph.

“I think it’s in the wisest interest of the children and parents here,” Mr. Malone said about upgrading the signs.

Timers will be installed to ensure yellow lights flash on the signs while school is in session. There isn’t a plan to install signs that inform drivers how fast they’re traveling, school officials said.

The school board unanimously approved the one-year contract with the state Department of Transportation, which is expected to cost the district $1,252. All work to repair any damage or destruction done to the new signs will be the state’s responsibility, Mr. Malone said.

In other district news, the school board unanimously approved the second phase of the district’s technology infrastructure project. The nearly $68,600 plan includes installing a new network, servers and phone system and adding wireless access points in each classroom. In May, representatives from Switch Technologies of Rocky Point gave a presentation about the school building’s technical infrastructure and suggested the district replace portions of its system.

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08/20/13 2:30pm
KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | In a 2010 photo, Oysterponds teacher Jenny Schoenstein helps a kindergartner with a writing exercise. Her name is listed with other teachers expected to be laid off June 30.

KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | In a 2010 photo, Oysterponds teacher Jenny Schoenstein helps a student with a writing exercise. The school board is expected to vote on her reinstatement Tuesday night.

The Oysterponds school board is expected to vote Tuesday night on reinstating first-grade teacher Jenny Schoenstein — one of four teachers laid off in June.

The position opened back up as part of a new teacher’s contract approved last month. The new two-year agreement came nearly a year after the last one expired.

In June, the school board voted to lay off Ms. Schoenstein, second-grade teacher Rebecca Cartselos, fifth-grade teacher Brittany Knote and Kathy Syron, the district’s first pre-kindergarten teacher.

The school board is also expected to vote on Ms. Knote’s appointment as a full-time technology teacher assistant, according to Tuesday’s agenda.

In addition, the school board will discuss renewing an agreement with the Greenport School District to allow Oysterponds sixth-grade students to attend technology and home and career courses at Greenport during the 2013-14 school year.

Oysterponds is a pre-K through sixth-grade district serving the Orient and East Marion communities and sends its secondary students to Greenport.

Scroll down to view the complete agenda. Check back later for an update.

Oysterponds school board meeting agenda, Aug. 20, 2013

06/20/13 4:00pm
KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | Oysterponds school officials have cancelled Tuesday's runoff election.

KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | Oysterponds school officials have cancelled Tuesday’s runoff election.

Oysterponds school board candidate Betsy Dzenkowski has withdrawn from Tuesday’s runoff election against incumbent Dorothy-Dean Thomas.

District clerk Susan Forte said in an email the vacant seat will now go to Ms. Thomas, who is the current school board president.

Ms. Thomas wasn’t immediately available for comment.

Ms. Dzenkowski, an East Marion resident who hasn’t actively campaigned, withdrew from the race earlier today, Ms. Forte said.

Ms. Thomas, an Orient resident and consultant for Lenz Winery, was first elected to the seven-member board in 2010. She tied for the last of three seats during the May 21 election, with 157 votes each.

Orient residents Tom Stevenson and Alison Lyne were elected to the other two seats vacated by school board members Deborah Dumont and Thomas Gray.

Mr. Stevenson, Ms. Lyne and Ms. Thomas are expected to be sworn in at the July 2 reorganizational meeting.

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06/18/13 2:30pm
06/18/2013 2:30 PM
KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Oysterponds school board president Dorothy-Dean Thomas will be attending tonight's candidate forum in Orient. Her challenger, Betsy Dzenkowski, has declined the invitation.

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Oysterponds school board president Dorothy-Dean Thomas will be attending tonight’s candidate forum in Orient. Her challenger, Betsy Dzenkowski, has declined the invitation.

There will be an Oysterponds school board candidate forum tonight in Orient, but only incumbent Dorothy-Dean Thomas will be in attendance.

Civic officials said candidate Betsy Dzenkowski has declined the invitation due to a scheduling conflict.

Ms. Dzenkowski is an East Marion resident who hasn’t actively campaigned. She and Ms. Thomas tied for one of three seats at the May 21 election, with 157 votes each.

Ms. Thomas is the current school board president and lives in Orient. Civic officials said she has agreed to attend tonight’s 7 p.m. forum at Poquatuck Hall to answer questions. All Orient and East Marion residents are invited to attend.

The June 25 runoff election between Ms. Thomas and Ms. Dzenkowski will take place at the elementary school between 3 to 9 p.m.

Check back next Tuesday night for live election results.

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06/11/13 10:00am
KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | In a 2010 photo, Oysterponds teacher Jenny Schoenstein helps a kindergartner with a writing exercise. Her name is listed with other teachers expected to be laid off June 30.

KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | In a 2010 photo, Oysterponds teacher Jenny Schoenstein helps a student with a writing exercise. Ms. Schoenstein’s name is listed with other teachers expected to be laid off June 30.

The Oysterponds school board is expected to approve Superintendent Richard Malone’s proposed teacher layoffs and reduced hours at tonight’s regular meeting in Orient.

First-grade teacher Jenny Schoenstein, second-grade teacher Rebecca Cartselos, and fifth-grade teacher Brittany Knote are slated to be laid off June 30, according to tonight’s agenda.

The district’s first pre-kindergarten teacher Kathy Syron, who started in September, is also listed on the layoff resolution.  Last month the school board had approved a medical leave request for Ms. Syron, who served one term on the Oysterponds Board of Education from 2008 to 2011.

In addition to the proposed layoffs, the school board is expected to vote on reducing the physical education, music and teacher positions from full-time to part-time.

The changes were included in the elementary school’s budget, which voters approved last month.

Due to the district’s dwindling enrollment, Mr. Malone said he’s recommending that the district combine pre-K and kindergarten; first and second grades; third and fourth grades; and fifth and sixth grades. The kindergarten class would continue to start its day in the morning but would be joined by the preschoolers in the afternoon.

The student-to-teacher ratio will increase to 7-to-1 next school year, up from 5-to-1 this year, Mr. Malone has said.

Oysterponds has been in negotiations with its teachers union to replace the contract that expired June 30, 2011. Since the district and the union have reached an impasse, the matter is being mediated through the state’s Public Employment Relations Board.

As for technology upgrades plans, the superintendent will recommend tonight the board approve a $11,375 contract with Switch Technologies of Rocky Point for cable installation work.

There are also several transportation contracts up for a vote tonight.

Scroll down to view the complete agenda. Pick up Thursday’s paper for more on this story.

Oysterponds school board meeting agenda, June 11, 2013

05/29/13 5:00pm
05/29/2013 5:00 PM
KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Oysterponds school board president Dorothy-Dean Thomas will face Betsy Dzenkowski in a June 25 runoff election.

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Oysterponds school board president Dorothy-Dean Thomas will face Betsy Dzenkowski in a June 25 runoff election.

A June 25 date has been set for the Oysterponds school board race between incumbent Dorothy-Dean Thomas and challenger Betsy Dzenkowski.

The candidates tied for one of three seats at the May 21 election, with 157 votes each.

Ms. Thomas is the current school board president and lives in Orient. In an interview with The Suffolk Times last week, she said she’s running because of her commitment to the community and wants to make sure students receive a quality education.

Over her three-year tenure on the board, Ms. Thomas said she’s been successful with creating an open dialog and public forums between the district and residents, such as roundtable discussions, coffee hours and parent meetings.

Ms. Dzenkowski is an East Marion resident who hasn’t actively campaigned.

Orient residents Tom Stevenson and Alison Lyne were elected to the other two seats vacated by school board members Deborah Dumont and Thomas Gray. Mr. Stevenson received 193 votes and Ms. Lyne, 160.

Candidate Charles Squire of Orient withdrew from the race on the day of the election after learning state law requires that a resident live within a school district for one year before serving on a school board. His name still appeared on the ballot and he received 61 votes.

District officials said the school board unanimously approved the June 25 runoff election date during a special meeting Tuesday. Mr. Gray was absent from the meeting.

The runoff election will take place at the elementary school in Orient between 3 to 9 p.m.

The new school board members are expected to be sworn-in at the July 2 reorganization meeting.

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05/21/13 11:16am
KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | Oysterponds school officials are looking into the legality of Orient resident Charles Squire's run for school board.

KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | Charles Squire confirmed Tuesday he’s withdrawing from today’s Oysterponds school board election.

Orient resident Charles Squire released the following statement about his decision for withdrawing from today’s Oysterponds school board election. Below his statement is our original coverage.

Dear friends and fellow members of the Oysterponds community,

It is with much regret that I am announcing the withdrawal of my candidacy from the Oysterponds school board election today.

The law states that one must be a resident for one full year prior to serving on the school board. In my case, my residency is just shy of a year. Though my family and I have been Orient homeowners and members of the community since 2010, we completed our full-time transition in July of 2012.

As a citizen, it is my duty to respect the law and these requirements.

While the legality of my residency has been questioned, my commitment to the Oysterponds community and to the children, parents, and dedicated teachers of Oysterponds Elementary will never be questioned.

I have total confidence that the three candidates who have been active participants in the dialog leading up to the election — Dorothy-Dean Thomas, Alison Lyne, and Tom Stevenson — will be excellent additions to the board.

They have my fullest support and I wish them all the best.

Sincerely,

Charles Squire

Original coverage:

Oysterponds School District Superintendent Richard Malone confirmed Tuesday afternoon that school board candidate Charles Squire has withdrawn from today’s election.

State law requires board candidates to have an uninterrupted year of residency within the district up to the election, Mr. Malone said in an interview earlier today. Mr. Squire has said he and his family have summered in Orient for the past few years and moved from the city to Orient last summer because he and his wife were impressed with what the Oysterponds School offered.

Earlier today, officials spoke to their attorneys to determine if Mr. Squire can legally appear on the ballot. The superintendent said Mr. Squire withdrew from the race today at 1 p.m. He did not indicate whether the district’s attorneys had given an opinion beforehand.

“We’ll have information about this posted at the school before the election,” Mr. Malone said. When asked what will happen if Mr. Squire still wins a board seat the superintendent said he’s looking into the matter.

Mr. Squire wasn’t immediately available for comment.

Three seats currently held by board president Dorothy-Dean Thomas, Deborah Dumont and Thomas Gray are up for grabs, but only Ms. Thomas is seeking a new term. Mr. Squire, along with Orient residents Tom Stevenson and Alison Lyne, as well as East Marion resident Betsy Dzenkowski, will also appear on today’s ballot.

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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