10/16/13 12:05pm

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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09/20/13 3:28pm
09/20/2013 3:28 PM
KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | Oysterponds school officials have cancelled Tuesday's runoff election.

KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | Oysterponds Elementary School’s enrollment exceeded administrators’ expectations this year.

Student enrollment at the Oysterponds Elementary School in Orient has exceeded administrators’ expectations for the 2013-14 school year — rising to a total of about 80 students.

Superintendent Richard Malone said during the school board’s regular meeting Tuesday night that 78 students have enrolled and two more are expected to do so in October. Mr. Malone had initially anticipated educating 66 students, down from 81 in 2012-13.

In August, Mr. Malone said the district was anticipating total enrollment of 75 students, but that number increased again in the past month.

He also said Tuesday that the district’s pre-K class has swelled to 13 students. That program, now in its second year, is aimed at nurturing early-childhood education and attracting new families and/or tuition students into the district.

Mr. Malone said five of the pre-K students are tuitioned.

The morning pre-K class combines with the kindergartners during the afternoons. There are currently seven kindergarten students, including one tuition student, he said, and the combined class includes both a full-time teacher and an aide, as well as either a math, literacy or technology teacher.


A special Oct. 1 meeting has been scheduled for the school board to discuss the district’s teacher contract.

Board president Dorothy-Dean Thomas said the purpose of the executive session is for the board to reach a consensus before it begins negotiations in November.

In July, the school board and the district’s teachers union approved a new two-year pact to replace the previous contract, which expired June 30, 2011.

The current 2013-14 school year includes a “hard freeze” on teacher salaries, which will be held flat with no step increases or annual raises.

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09/08/13 12:00pm
09/08/2013 12:00 PM

North Fork schools

The start of a new school year is an ideal time to roll out changes to curriculum, faculty or initiatives, and in Southold Town, the 2013-14 school year is no exception. From classroom reorganization at Oysterponds to iPads for all high school students in Greenport, local superintendents shared their lists of things that will be new or different in their districts this year, as well as their hopes for the next nine months.

James McKenna



“Mattituck-Cutchogue has established a district-wide theme this year that plays off the AT&T commercials that advertise ‘It’s Not Complicated,’ ” Mr. McKenna said.

“The shared purpose for everyone associated with our schools is not complicated; it is to provide an environment that helps all students learn well, stay safe and participate, in order to graduate. Each day every member of the school district — students, parents, staff and community members — should challenge him- or herself by asking, ‘How am I going to do this to the best of my ability?’ ”

This year, the district will:

• Make improvements to the technology infrastructure within the district, including an upgrade of the wireless capability at the junior-senior high school, plus Windows 7 and Office 2013 upgrades on all district computers. A second computer lab will be installed at Cutchogue East Elementary School for computerized state testing, as well as differentiated instruction.

• Provide more “authentic learning experiences,” like the Farm to School initiative, which emphasizes the importance of agriculture in the community, and the library advisory program, which improves the use of school libraries and public libraries to support curriculum and the joys of reading. The district will also expand vocational training programs for students with disabilities.

• Establish a Junior Human Rights Commission to eliminate bias and discrimination in the schools. Other anti-bullying initiatives will include upperclassmen-facilitated workshops for younger students aimed at creating a safe and respectful learning environment for every student.

• Maintain and improve facilities. The front of the junior high school building has been painted and damage to the roofs of the high school and elementary school caused by superstorm Sandy have been repaired. A bond proposal will be presented to the taxpayers on Oct. 29 for reconstruction of the existing track for school activities as well as community use.

David Gamberg



“We must become learning organizations, flexible and dynamic places that aspire to uphold the values of our community and the integrity of the public school system,” Mr. Gamberg said of the upcoming school year.

This year, the district:

• Has a new athletic director/dean of students, Michael Brostowski.

• Will share an educational technology director, Ryan Case, with Greenport School District. Greenport and Southold have approved several shared-service agreements in recent years to cut costs and offer more programs for students.

• Plans to distribute Google Chromebooks to students for use in grades 5-8.

• Continues to review, monitor and make adjustments when necessary to enhance safety and security throughout the school district.

Richard Malone



“I think there are many exciting and rewarding changes taking place at Oysterponds,” Mr. Malone said. “We are committed as a faculty to provide exciting learning opportunities for the individual, successful achievement of all students.”

This year, the district will:

• Combine each grade and reorganize classrooms. Pre-K and kindergarten are now called primary 1, grades 1 and 2 are now primary 2, grades 3 and 4 are now intermediate 1 and grades 5 and 6 are now intermediate 2. Each class will have multiple teachers and assistants, including literacy, math and enrichment specialists, as well as a technology teacher assistant.

• Have a lunchroom/multipurpose room. The new arrangement will provide more opportunities for students to socialize, as well as serve the PTA.

• Implement a new administrative model. The principal and superintendent will work three days a week and share a common day for meetings and planning.

• See the administrative return of former Oysterponds superintendent Joan Frisicano, who is replacing Françoise Wittenburg as part-time interim principal.

Michael Comanda



“We’re looking to build on our Award Winning Blue Ribbon Elementary School and our U.S. News and World Report Award as one of the best high schools in America,” Mr. Comanda said.

This year, the Greenport school district:

• Has a new athletic director, James Caliendo.

• Is sharing an educational technology director with Southold.

• Will give iPads to all students in grades 9-12 and laptops to students in grades 4-8.

• Has a new playground, new chemistry lab and new physics lab.

• Has a new anti-bullying program.


Mr. Comanda also serves as superintendent of New Suffolk Common School. The district will:

• Split administrative tasks. Head teacher Holly Plymale will be responsible for administrative tasks and the school’s math and science teacher, Sara Campbell, will take the lead on academic and curriculum planning, special education programing, state assessments, DARE and coordinating other lesson plans. English and social studies teacher Nicole Pollina, who is expected to have a baby in January, will be involved with school events.

• Implement a classroom restructuring plan for its 16 pre-K through sixth-grade students. Ms. Campbell, who taught grades 5 and 6, and Ms. Pollina, who taught grades 3 and 4, will now focus on teaching the subjects that are geared toward their teaching certificates. Ms. Campbell’s higher education work focused on math, science and technology, with her undergraduate degree in physical geography. She has been teaching at New Suffolk for the past four years. Ms. Pollina, who has been at New Suffolk for three years, has a Master of Science degree in literacy. They each have dual certification in special education.

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08/21/13 2:30pm
KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | Oysterponds school officials have cancelled Tuesday's runoff election.

KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | The Oysterponds School District enrollment stands at 70 students for this upcoming year.

The Oysterponds school district is anticipating a 12 percent increase in enrollment over what was originally projected at the elementary school for the 2013-14 school year, but the new number still represents a decline over this past year.

During Tuesday night’s regular meeting, Superintendent Richard Malone said the district initially anticipated educating 66 elementary school students in the coming year, down from 81 in 2012-13. Enrollment currently stands at 70 students, and one second-grade student, one fourth-grade student and three pre-kindergarten students are now also expected to enroll before school starts next month.

“I am hoping that by the opening of school on Sept. 4 we shall be at 75 [students],” Mr. Malone said.

The increase comes after the district’s decision to restructure classes for this coming school year, combining grades to save funds — in part because of concern over dwindling class sizes.

A report generated by the district last year projected student enrollment would decrease by 29 students between the 2013-14 and 2017-18 school years, from 162 students to 133. Those numbers include secondary students who will be educated at Greenport Junior-Senior High School.

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 in the past three school years.

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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

05/14/13 12:00pm

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | Oysterponds school board president Dorothy-Dean Thomas, center, with board members Deborah Dumont, right, and Thom Gray. The Board of Education meets tonight.

The Oysterponds school board is expected to discuss the district’s technology-upgrade plan at tonight’s regular meeting in Orient.

Representatives from Switch Technologies of Rocky Point will give a presentation about the elementary school building’s technical infrastructure, according to tonight’s agenda.

Superintendent Richard Malone has said the upgrade is needed in order for the district to be in compliance with a  mandate from Albany to have students in grades 3-6 complete state assessments online by 2014.

The school board approved a contract with Switch Technologies in February to prepare the district for the mandate. The cost of the project is not to exceed $7,500, according to school documents.

The school board will also hold a public hearing 7 p.m. tonight to discuss the proposed 2013-14 budget.

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

Oysterponds school board meeting agenda, May 14, 2013

02/26/13 2:33pm

KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | Tonight’s Oysterponds budget workshop is at 7 p.m.

Oysterponds Elementary School District Superintendent Richard Malone is expected to present a zero-based spending plan for the 2013-14 school year at tonight’s budget workshop meeting.

Mr. Malone said he’s developing a worst-case scenario plan known as a “zero-based budget” at the request of the board in order to show how much it would cost to run the school with bare minimum mandates. That process involves presenting a spending plan that includes only state-mandated programs. Since preschool and kindergarten aren’t mandated, Mr. Malone said they won’t be included in his zero-based budget. He said the school board could then decide to add in additional programs before presenting next year’s budget to the Orient and East Marion communities.

In addition to discussing his spending plan, Mr. Malone will give a mini-version of his “What is 21st century education?” series he presented earlier this year. Tonight’s topic is “Common Core and Complex Reading/Writing/Speaking.”

Here’s a summary of future budget workshops. Each meeting starts at 7 p.m.

• March 5: Budget workshop and presentation, “Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM)”

• March 12: Budget workshop and presentation, “Importance of Early Childhood Education (Pre-K Program)”

• April 2: Budget workshop and presentation, “Learning through Technology”

May 14: Budget hearing

May 12 from 3 to 9 p.m.: Budget vote

Read more in the Feb. 28 issue of The Suffolk Times in both our print and electronic editions.