By Claire Walla
At a school board meeting Monday, June 20 Sag Harbor School District Superintendent Dr. John Gratto reviewed the goals the board had set around this time last year.
For the most part, he said the board accomplished what it set out to do.
Dr. Gratto explained the three overarching goals the district hoped to achieve as follows: approve academic achievement, communicate effectively with the public and ensure fiscal accountability.
While the district made achievements in each area — launching the student portal for better communication, establishing the education forum, putting more rigor into writing as part of the English curriculum — there are a few items on the list Dr. Gratto labeled as “in progress.”
For example, the district set out to look at ways to improve math and science: “I think we need to reexamine this and set another goal for next year,” Dr. Gratto said.
Similarly, the board is still in the midst of exploring the International Baccalaureate (IB) program (a goal for this year) and will continue to encourage project-by-design teaching methods, even though Dr. Gratto noted that both principals made some headway instilling those teaching practices in the classroom this year already.
As for communication, one of the board’s first goals was to improve outreach to English language learners. Dr. Gratto said the board improved access for English as a Second Language (ESL) students by providing bus services for them, creating the homework club and hiring a Spanish-speaking teaching assistant mid-year. The district did not organize a Spanish-language PTSA, as it had planned. “But we’ll keep working on that,” Dr. Gratto continued.
Another unmet goal had to do with establishing an educational foundation to help increase donations coming into the school. However, Dr. Gratto explained, “we did not set an educational foundation because the booster club was formed in the spring.”
The board of education will sit-down for another goal-setting session on July 12. In addition to reestablishing some of the initiatives set for this year, Dr. Gratto encouraged the board — which will lose Dan Hartnett to new board member Sandi Kruel in July — to “think about the things we want to keep on doing to strengthen the district.”
In other news…
The district approved the establishment of reserve funds, which will be created in five areas: Renovation Capital ($500,000 deposit, fund not to exceed $5 million), Sag Harbor Fleet Replacement Capital ($400,000), Sag Harbor Unemployment Insurance ($100,000), Sag Harbor Retirement Contribution ($1 million) and Employee Benefit Accrued Liability ($250,000).
Though the board voted to approve the establishment of such funds, District Treasurer Janet Verneuille stressed that the board has yet to approve the transfer of any reserves into these funds.
“The fund balance is a moving target,” she said.
The district will not know how much it has in its reserves until August, so these funds have been approved at high estimates, giving the board the flexibility to make a decision in August as to how much it might like to give to each fund.
The district said goodbye to Dan Hartnett, who attended his last meeting as a school board member on Monday, June 20.
Other board members praised Hartnett’s calm demeanor and thanked him for his years in office.
“I think everyone should do this,” he said of his role as school board member.
“There’s not a lot of joy in it,” he added, with only some degree of jest, “but at this point I feel a tremendous amount of achievement and growth. I’m a far better person for doing it.”