By Tessa Raebeck
Safety and security will trump size as the Sag Harbor School District takes a look at its facilities in the coming year.
Interim superintendent Dr. Carl Bonuso shared the district’s progress on its goals for the 2012 to 2013 school year, as well as its vision moving forward, at the Sag Harbor Board of Education meeting Monday night.
“Goals should reflect what the community at large, what the staff in general and what our school leaders bring to the table,” said Dr. Bonuso.
The primary goals for the 2012-2013 school year were to improve academic achievement, communicate effectively with the school community, ensure sound fiscal and operational practices and improve the wellness of students and staff.
In a presentation delineated by facilities, people and programs, Dr. Bonuso outlined the district’s progress and further means of improvement.
In terms of facilities, the administration examined and planned for potential district space needs for its pre-kindergarten, the new International Baccalaureate (IB) advanced learning program and for the fifth grade, hoping for increased transitional assistance at the middle school level.
For the upcoming year, the question has changed to emphasize security rather than space.
“Are the facilities safe?” asked Dr. Bonuso. “Not so much are they large, are they safe?”
The superintendent hopes to work on recommendations from the draft of a security audit as soon as possible and enact a “complete facilities overview, with the safety and security being prime.” The draft should be completed and distributed to the board and the public on June 17.
In terms of program goals for the 2012-2013 school year, Dr. Bonuso said they were largely successful. The administration completed an analysis and improvement plan for Spanish and math instruction for grades kindergarten through 12. Todd Gulluscio, athletic director, has also worked with the administration to create a series of units which are being enacted to “make high school Physical Education (PE) have a greater focus on lifetime fitness activities,” according to Dr. Bonuso’s presentation. In the upcoming year, students will be able to choose between standard PE and the new fitness oriented class, Modified Fitness.
“In terms of goals that have emerged,” said Bonuso. “They would be to pursue more workshops and to involve the community that way.”
Dr. Bonuso said he considered the series of recent workshops on the academic curriculum as successful and a presentation on the IB program drew a small crowd to Monday night’s BOE meeting. When it comes to transitioning, he said the district hopes to work with the community to create programming designed to ease students transition from the Sag Harbor Elementary School into Pierson Middle School in sixth grade through a middle school philosophy and programming.
The “people” component of the 2012-2013 goals were to “create, implement and evaluate a highly effective staff development plan” and “create and implement action steps resulting from the Community Coalition.”
In 2013-2014, the district hopes to move forward with these goals by enacting new board member training, a new teacher orientation program, an academy for substitute teachers and mandated training for all staff.
“I would challenge you guys to think about not just new teacher orientation,” said board vice president Chris Tice. “But when we talk about new employee orientation, that if you’re a new bus driver, or a new custodial, do we have that checklist?”
Tice cited recent research that showed, “The employees that are retained the longest and are the happiest tend to be the ones that have an ongoing process that was deliberate, specific, instructive and engaging.”
Dr. Bonuso agreed with the need to train all new members of the staff.
“People do drive the success of the district,” he said.
Consultant Marian Cassata updated the board on the progress of the Community Coalition and its implementation of a drug and alcohol prevention program. She said that a comprehensive plan of curricula, activities and programs to combat substance abuse would be ready in the early fall.
In other school board news, the administration has drafted a job description for the Pierson Middle School assistant principal position vacated by Barbara Bekermus who has been hired as the district’s director of pupil personnel services. The administration said they job desciption emphasizes that candidates have experience at the middle school level.
Pierson Middle/High School Principal Jeff Nichols urged the board to move forward in its search for a candidate.
“It’s important to expedite that process, to the extent that the applicant pool dwindles as you go further out,” he said.