Tag Archive | "Bridgehampton School"

School Board Candidacy Petitions Due Monday in Bridgehampton, Sag Harbor

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Residents interested in running for school board in the  Bridgehampton and Sag Harbor School Districts must submit their petitions for candidacy by Monday, April 21.

In Bridgehampton, there are two, three-year terms open this year. One seat is currently held by Elizabeth Kotz, a former board president whose son, Henry, is a senior at Bridgehampton High School. Ms. Kotz was first elected to the board in 2005, but resigned for personal reasons in 2011 before being brought back onto the board last summer in the wake of the resignation of then board president, Nicky Hemby. Ms. Kotz was appointed to a one-year term to fill the remainder of Ms. Hemby’s term. A second three-year term is also up for election this May. That seat is currently held by Gabriella Braia.

In Sag Harbor, three, three-year terms are open this year. Those seats are currently held by board president Theresa Samot, and board members Sandi Kruel and Mary Anne Miller.

Candidate petitions must be turned into the district clerk in both school districts by 5 p.m. on Monday. Both district budget votes and board elections will be held on Tuesday, May 20. In Sag Harbor, polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the Pierson Middle-High School gymnasium. In Bridgehampton, polls will be open from 2 to 8 p.m. in the school gymnasium.

The Sag Harbor School District will host a voter registration day on Tuesday, May 6, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the district clerk’s office. On May 13, Bridgehampton School will host its own voter registration day, from 4 to 8 p.m.

Spring Break Threatened by Snow Days in Sag Harbor, Bridgehampton

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Young Grace Gomolka tries her hand out at helping dad shovel their sidewalk following the blizzard on Wednesday, January 22. Photo by Michael Heller.

Young Grace Gomolka tries her hand out at helping dad shovel their sidewalk following the blizzard on Wednesday, January 22. Photo by Michael Heller.

By Tessa Raebeck

As incredible as winter weekdays spent sledding, ice-skating and relaxing by the fire are, snow days tend to be bittersweet memories come springtime, when long past days off begin to cut into awaited vacation time.

Because they are required by law to have 180 full days of instruction each year, school districts must make difficult decisions on how to compensate when inclement weather makes it impossible—or at least ill advised—for students to come to school.

The Sag Harbor School District planned for two snow days this year, but school has already been closed for three days and, according to the infamous groundhog, the winter weather is showing no signs of letting up any time soon.

If the two snow days had not been used, the district would have been closed the Friday before Memorial Day and the Tuesday afterward. Since those days have already been used up, the holiday weekend will only include the Monday of Memorial Day weekend, May 26.

“Now,” said Dr. Carl Bonuso, Sag Harbor’s interim superintendent, “we have to go in with that third day and take what would have been a vacation day and make it a school day.”

The spring break this year was scheduled for Monday, April 14, through Friday, April 18, with students returning to school on Monday, April 21. As of press time, April 14 will now be a school day, but the rest of the vacation remains intact for now.

Dr. Bonuso said if the district has to be closed again, the next vacation day to be eliminated would likely be Tuesday, April 15.

“And if we needed another day, Wednesday and so forth,” he added.

Local school districts have had to make such adjustments the past two years. It’s been snow this year, but last year it was Hurricane Sandy that forced the closure of school more than two days.

Sag Harbor has already adopted its calendar for the 2014-15 school year and again has factored in just two snow days.

“But,” said Dr. Bonuso, “it’s something we need to keep in mind when we construct calendars, whether we build in more days up front or say what days we should use should we run into emergency days.”

“This winter was definitely a tough one,” he added. “So it’s something we have to think about.”

The Bridgehampton School District factors in three “inclement weather days” each year.  If there are no snow days during the year, those days become days off for staff and students, typically at the end of the school year. If there are snow days, the inclement weather days function as regular school days.

Bridgehampton’s inclement weather days for this year were set for March 14, May 2 and May 23, the Friday before Memorial Day. Because Bridgehampton has also used three snow days during the 2013-2014 school year thus far, each of those days will now be full days in class for students.

According to Bridgehampton Superintendent/Principal Dr. Lois Favre, if another snow day has to be called, a staff development day (when the staff comes in for training but students get to stay home) scheduled for April 11 could instead be used as a full day for both staff and students, “rather than take away the April break, as many families have already made plans,” she explained.

“Moving forward,” she added, “I am looking at the 2014-2015 calendar to see where we might build in an extra day for an inclement weather day.”

Robots are Taking Over at the Bridgehampton School

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Monasia Street shows off her robot's skills to her classmates during a robotics demonstration at the Bridgehampton School February 4 (Michael Heller photo).

Monasia Street shows off her robot’s skills to her classmates during a robotics demonstration at the Bridgehampton School February 4 (Michael Heller photo).

 

By Tessa Raebeck 

Ask seventh grader Monasia Street what her favorite subject in school is and you may be surprised by the answer: sonar detection. Along with the rest of her class at the Bridgehampton School, Monasia has just finished designing, building and programming robots that can trace roads using light sensors, turn on at the sound of a clap and, Monasia’s favorite, spin around upon detecting an oncoming structure.

Under the guidance of technology teacher Judiann Carmack-Fayyaz, Bridgehampton students are learning to write code and program computers, skills considered vital in the ever-expanding technology fields.

“The curriculum that goes with this is fabulous, ” Carmack-Fayyaz told the parents, students and administrators gathered at the school board meeting last Wednesday. “It really integrates science, math and technology.”

Carmack-Fayyaz showed a video to the board by the Hour of Code, an organization dedicated to ensuring every American student has the opportunity to try computer science.

In the video, a young Steve Jobs says everyone in the country should learn how to program a computer and President Barack Obama encourages students, “Don’t just play on your phone, program it.”

Dr. Lois Favre, Bridgehampton’s superintendent, has committed to a five-year plan to improve the school’s technology curriculum and included a number of updates in a preliminary draft of the district’s 2014-2015 budget presented at Wednesday’s meeting.

The technology program is housed down a winding staircase in the basement of the school. The room has many purposes; students split their time between a laboratory shop area used for building and a computer room for design and programming. The seventh grade just finished its robotics course and now the eighth grade gets a turn in the lab.

Claudio Figueroa, a high school junior, assists Carmack-Fayyaz in the classroom. On Tuesday, the eighth graders received kits for a new electronic “Simon” project. Figueroa explained to the younger students that they would build a game sort of like Simon Says and helped them interpret the directions.

Class assistant Claudio Figueroa looks on as Johnny DeGroot demonstrates how his robot can draw a perfect circle.

Class assistant Claudio Figueroa looks on as Johnny DeGroot demonstrates how his robot can draw a perfect circle (Michael heller photo).

As the eighth graders unwrapped their next challenge, the seventh graders were busy playing around with their programs and assembling an obstacle course used to show off the robots’ skills.

After pushing some buttons on her robot, Paige Hoyt watched as it expertly wiggled along a U-shaped black road on the course. Also in the seventh grade, Paige explained how the robot uses its light sensor to differentiate between the black road and white surface and its “B and C motors” to move forward.

“Robotics is one of my favorite classes,” said Aziza Brunson. Her friend Jalisa Hopson agrees, “I like building the robots and programming [them] for swing turn and point turn.”

“I like how you get to teach robots to do their own thing,” said Autumn Coffey, a seventh grader who uses her robot to figure out the circumference of a circle.

Monasia Street, Paige Hoyt and Autumn Coffey with their robots.

Monasia Street, Paige Hoyt and Autumn Coffey with their robots (Michael Heller photo).

The kids understand the language used to code the robots; they align squares labeled only with pictures or letters in the computer program and know exactly what that will create on the obstacle course.

The technology classroom is loud with discussion and filled with energy as students move around sharing ideas, testing programs and showing off their designs.

Monasia patiently explained how setting the robot to 1,045 degrees would allow it to “do a little spin but not too long.”

After her robot moved forward, hit a house, detected the impact with its touch sensor and spun around, she said of the effort to design and build the machine, “It was kind of easy.”

First Draft of Bridgehampton School Budget Asks for 12-percent Increase

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By Tessa Raebeck

Bridgehampton School District officials were quick to stress last week that a newly unveiled budget calling for a 12.59-percent spending increase for the 2014-15  school year was only a first draft that would see significant cuts in the coming months.

“It always looks like we need to panic,” said Superintendent/Principal Dr. Lois Favre at the Bridgehampton Board of Education (BOE) meeting last Wednesday. “I have no doubt that we’ll get this where we need to be.”

The $12.62 million budget contains many “wish list” items and would carry a $1.4 million increase over last year’s budget.

Enrollment at Bridgehampton School is projected to increase by three students next year. The projected numbers for 2014-15 are 24 students in the pre-kindergarten program and 145 students in kindergarten through 12th grade. Total enrollment is expected to reach 169 students, the largest enrollment at school in recent years, according to Dr. Favre.

“If everything remains the same,” Dr. Favre told the board, “and we add in what we believe we’d like to see happen here, it would be a [nearly] 12.6-percent increase, which we know is unreasonable. It’s not in the realm of things right now.”

“In this age of the tax cap, it’s a big number,” added Dr. Favre, referring to the 2-percent tax levy limit that prohibits school districts from raising the tax rate by more than 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less, unless the district can secure a 60-percent majority vote in favor of its budget. “So, I’m just saying that I know that that’s not where you want to stay, but you just need to see all the numbers and we’ll go together as a team to see where we can get.”

The large increase is attributed to several unavoidable costs, such as “ever increasing” employee/retiree benefits, as well as desired items like laminating machines and technology updates to keep in line with the district’s five-year plan, Dr. Favre said.

It also budgets for a new outdoor sign and opportunities for state-mandated staff development (staff must be trained for the state-imposed educational curriculums).

“I think this board,” said Dr. Favre, “has done an exceptional job every year of cutting back and giving a good budget to the community.”

What really stands out, Dr. Favre said, is the amount of money that has been asked for in preliminary budgets, but which has ultimately been cut over the last six years, which amounts to $4.5 million. Last year’s budget actually called for less spending than the budget that was requested in 2010. In 2012-2013, the final budget was $636,678 less than the administration’s original proposal. In 2013-2014, the district proposed a budget of $11.37 million and ended with an actual budget of $11.21 million, a difference of $158,064.

The budget does not consider the impact of raises beyond the step increase factored in each year. Dr. Favre noted contract negotiations are just beginning with the teachers’ union.

Dr. Favre told the board it would need to discuss whether or not it should pursue piercing the tax cap.

Bridgehampton School Ranks in Top 15 Obese Schools on Long Island

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Bridgehampton School personnel work in the district's new community garden last April, 2013. (Photography by Michael Heller).

Bridgehampton School personnel work in the district’s new community garden last April. (Michael Heller photo).

By Tessa Raebeck

Although rates of childhood obesity in New York are showing signs of dropping, schools across the state are still reporting alarming rates of overweight students.

According to New York State Department of Health (DOH) data, Greenport is the most obese school district on Long Island, with Bridgehampton, Riverhead and Springs not far behind.

Between 2010 and 2012, 17.6 percent of New York public school students (excluding New York City) were considered obese, according to the DOH.

The Student Weight Status Category Reporting System, through which the data was compiled, was established in 2007 to support state and local efforts to understand and confront the problem of childhood obesity.

It requires students in kindergarten and grades 2, 4, 7 and 10 to have a student health certificate completed based on a physical examination, thus the data used in the DOH report only reflects students in those grades. Schools collect the health certificate information and the district then reports a summary to the DOH. The DOH does not receive data on individual children, only summaries of the district total and of students categorized by gender and grade groups, i.e. elementary versus secondary.

Although the appraisals used to collect the student obesity data are mandatory, parents can opt out of having their child’s data included in the school summary report sent to DOH. Approximately two percent of all parents opt out, according to DOH spokesman Dr. Jeffrey Hammond.

The percentages are therefore not definitive comparisons of districts’ obesity rates, noted Bridgehampton School superintendent Dr. Lois Favre.

Bridgehampton School, for example, is reported to have 15 obese children and a rate of 27.3 percent obesity. Both numbers are based on the 56 students in the grades for which data was submitted, not the entire district population.

Although the data is not all encompassing, it is nonetheless alarming.

According to the DOH, obesity is more prevalent among children raised in low-income households. Rates of obesity in New York are significantly higher in school districts in which a higher proportion of students are eligible for free or reduced price lunch.

In Bridgehampton, 57 percent of students are on free or reduced price lunch, according to Dr. Favre.

“We work hard at Bridgehampton,” said Dr. Favre, “to assure that all students receive the state mandated amount of time for physical education [and] have daily recess that encourages movement.”

“We were one of the first schools on the South Fork to begin a school garden,” she added, “and pride ourselves on getting healthy foods to our students.”

In Riverhead, 315 students, or 24.7 percent of the sample population, were reported to be obese.

According to Superintendent Nancy Carney, 48 percent of Riverhead students are on free or reduced price lunch.

“With a poverty level of this rate,” said Carney, “families tend to rely on foods that are high in calories and low in cost to satisfy their nutritional needs.”

Riverhead schools offer low calorie meals of high nutritional value and encourage students to participate in the breakfast program, to save parents money and hopefully afford children the opportunity to make healthier food choices.

With 64 obese children in the sample data, Springs has an obesity rate of 22.9 percent.

Principal Eric Casale said although the school does not have its own cafeteria, the district works with parents to monitor students’ nutritional habits and a lunch cart filled with healthy foods is available. Its Springs Seedlings school garden has also been a success.

“Our mission as a district,” Casale said, “is to enrich the intellectual, emotional, social and physical wellbeing of our student body.”

Greenport School District had a reported childhood obesity rate of 33.4 percent.

The DOH rate of childhood obesity is 16.8 percent in East Hampton, 14.7 percent in Southampton and 9.9 percent in Sag Harbor, the lowest district on the East End

Bridgehampton Voters Approve $827,000 in Spending for School Capital Projects

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The Bridgehampton School.

The Bridgehampton School.

By Tessa Raebeck

Bridgehampton voters overwhelmingly agreed to fund $827,000 in capital projects at the Bridgehampton School, including the installation of new fire escapes and other major repairs considered essential by the district.

Out of the 70 district residents who voted Tuesday, 64 approved the spending. Four absentee ballots were tallied.

Built more than 85 years ago, the Bridgehampton School has never had any major updates to its infrastructure, according to Superintendent/Principal Dr. Lois Favre. Additional outer buildings that were supposed to be temporary have been in use for “many more years than planned,” she said.

Voters approved the establishment of a five-year capital plan to fund major improvements and repairs at the school last March and the Board of Education (BOE) put $827,000 in that reserve fund in June. Tuesday’s vote approved the actual spending of that money.

Dr. Favre said after reviewing the building’s five-year plan, “it was indicated that due to the budget crunching in recent years, we are getting behind on repairs.”

The district can now move forward on longstanding priority items like installing new fire escapes and replacing the gymnasium floor and skylights.

Bridgehampton students will also enjoy new playground equipment and could be playing on it by the next school year; the district hopes to complete all projects over the summer of 2014 so as not to interfere with school instruction.

Smaller capital projects are also covered by the funding, including installing a new generator, resurfacing the outdoor basketball court, fixing leaks in the electrical room and replacing emergency lighting in several buildings.

“In an effort to keep to our five year plan and assure safety for our students,” said Dr. Favre, “the board believes that catching up with, and assuring attention to the five year plan is in the best interest of all. The allocation of the funds by the public will assist us in doing just that.”

Bridgehampton School Capital Improvement Vote Next Tuesday

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In need of new fire escapes and other major repairs, the Bridgehampton School District will host a special vote January 14 from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the middle school building 4 where the community will weigh in on spending $827,000 in capital reserve funds for improvement projects within the district.

Last March, Bridgehampton voters approved the establishment of a five-year capital plan to fund major improvements and repairs throughout the school. The board of education (BOE) funded the capital plan with $827,000 in June. Now district voters must voice their support of actually spending that reserve money.

The largest spending priorities include replacing the gymnasium floor and skylights and installing new fire escapes. Smaller capital projects, including covering the cost of a new generator, new playground equipment, resurfacing the outdoor basketball court, fixing leaks in the electrical room and replacing emergency lighting in several buildings, would also be covered by the $827,000 in funding. While funding the capital reserve account has already been approved, if the actual spending is approved by majority vote, the district hopes to complete the projects over the summer of 2014 so as not to interfere with school instruction.

 

Two-Hour Delay for Sag Harbor, Bridgehampton Schools Tuesday Due to Extreme Cold

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A woman endures the cold on a dock in Sag Harbor Village Monday evening. (Tessa Raebeck photo).

A woman endures the cold on a dock in Sag Harbor Village Monday evening. (Tessa Raebeck photo).

By Tessa Raebeck

In anticipation of bitter cold, freezing rain and icy roads, the Sag Harbor School District has announced all schools will be operating on a two-hour delay on Tuesday, January 7. The morning Pre-K session is cancelled.

The Bridgehampton School District will also be having a two-hour delayed opening Tuesday, according to Dr. Lois Favre, superintendent for the district.

A bitter cold wind chill advisory is in effect from midnight Monday to 6 p.m. Tuesday.

The temperature Tuesday is expected to be well below freezing, with a high of 16 degrees and wind chill values as low as -8 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

Suffolk County residents who are without shelter during the extreme cold can contact the Temporary Housing Assistance Unit at (631) 854-9517 Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. At all other times, please call the Emergency Services Unit at (631) 854-9100.

If you are in need of home heating fuel or an emergency burner repair, call the Suffolk County Department of Social Services Home Energy Assistance Program at (631) 853-8820 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. or the Suffolk County Department of Social Services Emergency Services Unit at (631) 854-9100 at all other times.

Pierson-Bridgehampton Girls Field Hockey Team Earns County Honors

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Legislator Jay Schneiderman, Superintendent Dr. Carl Bonuso, Athletic Director Todd Gulluscio, Coach Shannon Judge, Bridgehampton Athletic Director Mary Anne Jules, India Hemby, Rachael Miller, Kasey Gilbride, Samantha Duchemin, Emma Romeo, Emmeline Luck, Katherine Matthers, Erica Selyukova, Assistant Coach Melissa Edwards, Bookeeper Elizabeth Marchiesella, (front row) Cassandra Spencer, Phiona Vall, Hollie Schleicher, Kerrie Vila, Calista Cafiero at the Suffolk County Legislature last week. 

At the Suffolk County Legislature’s General Meeting on December 3 at the Riverhead County Center, Legislator Jay Schneiderman honored the Pierson-Bridgehampton Girls Varsity Field Hockey team. The Lady Whalers claimed the title of the New York State Class C Championship at Cicero North Syracuse High School on November 17 2013.

“These young women are shining examples of what can be achieved through dedication and teamwork. Suffolk County is very proud of their accomplishments,” said Schneiderman.

Looking to Spend $827,000 in Capital Reserve Funds, Bridgehampton School District Will Hold Special Vote January 14

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Bridgehampton School administrators and members of the school board at the November 20 meeting.

Bridgehampton School administrators and members of the school board at the November 20 meeting.

By Tessa Raebeck

In need of new fire escapes and other major repairs, the Bridgehampton School District will host a special meeting January 14 for the community to vote on spending $827,000 in capital reserve funds.

Last March, Bridgehampton voters approved the establishment of a five-year capital plan to fund major improvements and repairs throughout the school. The board of education (BOE) funded the capital plan with $827,000 in June. Now district voters must voice their support of actually spending that reserve money.

At the school board meeting November 20, Robert Hauser, Bridgehampton’s school business administrator, said district architects have detailed about $790,000 in spending on items “they feel are a priority that need to be done.”

The largest priority items are replacing the gymnasium floor and skylights and installing new fire escapes; smaller capital projects would also be covered by the $827,000. If the spending is approved by majority vote, the district hopes to complete the projects over the summer so as not to interfere with school instruction.

Also at the November 20 meeting, Hauser updated the board on the progress of upgrading school security. New interior doors for the front entrance were installed Wednesday. When a visitor comes through the original exterior doors, they enter into a vestibule, where the new interior doors are now locked.

The school plans to install a camera and intercom system, so front desk personnel can buzz visitors into the building upon identification. Bridgehampton School staff members have been issued ID cards and students in grades six through 12 will receive cards in the next two weeks.

School districts nationwide are increasing security standards following the fatal school shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut last December. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a law in January requiring schools to submit school safety plans.

“With all the new changes in the regulations,” said Dr. Lois Favre, Bridgehampton’s superintendent/principal, “everybody in the school needs to get certain kinds of training.”

Also at the meeting, Hauser cautioned the board about the tax cap for this year’s budget, which he estimates will be 1.54 percent. In June 2011, Governor Cuomo mandated school districts and local municipalities limit the annual increase in property taxes to two percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower. With increasing security standards and decreasing funds, school districts like Bridgehampton are wary of drafting their budgets.

“We’re only allowed to collect 1.54 percent of the last year’s levy,” said Hauser. “So it’s not on what we’re going to spend, it’s what we actually collected — and that’s about $160,000. $160,000 is not a lot to work with.”

Employee benefits for district staff and retirees are projected to go up by about seven percent, Hauser said.

“We’ve come once again to the realization that some significant cuts will have to be made to be able to stay within the two percent tax cap levy limits,” said Dr. Favre. “Like everywhere else in New York State, we’ll be scrambling once again to try to come up with a budget that’s viable for the district and meets the taxpayers’ approval.”

Dr. Favre attended talks by educational experts Bill Mathis and Diane Ravitch on the prevalence of standardized testing and the implementation of the Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS) in New York, which has sparked controversy across the state. Many educators are finding more issue with the implementation of CCLS in New York State and the “rush to test,” as Ravitch calls it, rather than the curriculum itself.

Dr. Favre said looking to increase technology and fostering pedagogy that is “not so much worried about the test scores as we’re worried about our kids,” aligned with the experts’ recommendations.

While addressing Long Island superintendents and board members in Hauppauge last week, Ravitch called for superintendents to boycott Common Core testing altogether.

“In my contract,” the superintendent said, “it says I need to follow the rules and regulations of the Commissioner of the State of New York.”

“We do advocate for our students,” she continued, adding that superintendents from Western Suffolk and Suffolk County have sent statements regarding CCLS to Commissioner John King.

“We here at Bridgehampton School are looking at Common Core very seriously,” said Dr. Favre. “We see some of the value in it. We know we need to move our kids, but you can’t just shove this down kids’ throat.”