By David McCabe
The Sag Harbor School Board charted its course of the next year at its annual goal setting meeting, held this Monday.
For the most part, the goals proposed focus on academic achievement and the district’s commitment to wellness, which was made during last year’s goal-setting session. The board also designated some goals as “just do it” items.
One of the more broad goals was the ongoing implementation of the wellness policy, which seeks to improve the physical and emotional wellbeing of staff members and students.
The board, in consultation with administrators, decided to undertake an evaluation of its Spanish and math programs, finding that the district’s previous efforts to improve performance in those areas had failed. This year, 25 students failed to pass the eighth grade Spanish course, forcing the district to consider hosting a summer school program for those students.
“We thought it made sense to look at this systemically,” district superintendent Dr. John Gratto said.
Additionally, a similar review will be conducted for the math program. Pierson Middle/High School Principal Jeff Nichols said that many teachers had already received additional professional instruction, but that a larger effort appeared to be needed.
The district’s drug and alcohol prevention policies were also placed under a microscope, as board members urged administrators to more closely evaluate the district’s current efforts and put forth a plan that will improve upon them. The board also questioned why the school had yet to hold a planned community coalition meeting on drug and alcohol prevention.
“We did a lot of talking about it, but not a lot happened,” said Miller.
The board said that they wanted to consider implementing a program called “Too Good for Drugs” that has been used elsewhere on Long Island.
Nichols also requested that the board consider ways in which they could help promote the district’s new International Baccalaureate Diploma program. The IB program also came up at the meeting as administrators told board members they would like to find ways to introduce many of the IB concepts at the elementary and middle school level.
Dr. Gratto also asked that the administrators conduct a more thorough analysis of the district’s extracurricular activities, in order to figure out which clubs were worth maintaining and which were not being utilized.
As part of an increasing interest in the District English as a Second Language student community, the board asked that school officials try and print the academic calendar in Spanish as well as English. This will allow Spanish-speaking parents to have more advanced notification of events designed to aid the ESL community, which has tended to under perform in key academic areas.
The annual ritual, which looks to help the board decide on its direction for the next year, came at a time when the school is seeing leadership changes at its highest levels. Last month, the Sag Harbor School District hired John O’Keefe to replace Janet Verneuille as its business manager. Just last week, Dr. Gratto resigned from his position as superintendent after four years.
Dr. Gratto, though, found himself setting goals for his replacement on Monday, and did not seem shy about it. At one point, he recommended to Lisa Scheffer, the district’s Director of Pupil Personnel Services and Special Education, that she lower her costs and perhaps bring the district’s special education numbers below the statewide average.
“Thank you John,” she responded, a little sarcastically.
“Parting words,” someone else called out.