Tag Archive | "Pierson Middle-High School"

Sag Harbor School Board Adopts $35.5 Million Budget

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By Amanda Wyatt

Following months of workshops and planning, on Monday the Sag Harbor Board of Education (BOE) voted to adopt a $35,508,622 budget for the 2013-2014 school year.

Business administrator John O’Keefe described the budget as “fiscally prudent” and one that maintains the same quality of programs, small class sizes and other desirable features of the district. Unlike some neighboring districts, which have been forced to make drastic cuts to stay within the state-mandated two percent property tax levy cap or even ask voters to “pierce the tax cap,” Sag Harbor has kept its programs and staff intact.

However, the district recognizes that it may not be as lucky in the future.

“Each year is going to be a more and more difficult struggle,” said O’Keefe.

And while Sag Harbor hasn’t been forced to make cuts yet, Chris Tice, BOE vice president, said she imagined that “every district before the end of this tax cap is going to be faced with those choices.”

Dr. Carl Bonuso, the district’s interim superintendent, cited costly, mostly unfunded, state mandates and other legislation that has taken effect recently as being problematic. Unless it receives relief from these mandates, he said, the district would “have to look at some major strategy shifts” in the future.

This year’s budget takes into consideration some of these mandates, such as the Common Core curriculum and APPRs (Annual Professional Performance Reviews), as well as the rising costs of teacher and employee retirement systems, and state health insurance. In fact, O’Keefe said, benefits alone increased $1.3 million this year.

The budget-to-budget increase this year is 3.88 percent from last year’s approved budget of $34,182,256. The calculated tax levy needed to support the budget is $32,739,375, or a tax levy percentage of 3.78 percent.

O’Keefe also pointed out that there is a $100,000 increase from the budget as it was initially proposed last month, which includes funds for increased safety measures, drug and alcohol prevention programming and other items.

The budget vote is scheduled for May 21 between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Superintendent Search May Be Revived in Sag Harbor

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By Amanda Wyatt

An issue put on the backburner for months — finding a permanent superintendent for the Sag Harbor School District — resurfaced this week when it was raised by several community members at Monday night’s school board meeting.

The district has been without a permanent superintendent since Dr. John Gratto resigned last July. A month later, Dr. Carl Bonuso was appointed interim superintendent by the board of education (BOE), with the initial goal of finding a permanent replacement to take the helm for the 2013-2014 school year.

In January, however, the BOE opted to extended Dr. Bonuso’s contract another year. Based on the suggestion of School Leadership, the consulting firm used to oversee the process of selecting a superintendent, the BOE postponed the search until September 2013.

However, at the April 8 board meeting, several community members shared their concerns about delaying the search for another year.

“That really feels like a crime to me, whether they said it or not and they’re the experts, there’s so much time there,” said Kate Lawton. “It just feels wrong.”

Walter Tice, a former member and president of the BOE, also agreed with Lawton, while praising the work Dr. Bonuso has completed in the district.

“We can’t wait until [Dr. Bonuso is] gone and then find somebody. We’ve got to do it now, and I think it’s been too slow.”

As Steve Clark, a community member, put it, an interim superintendent “is a Band-Aid on a long term problem.”

“We can take a look at it,” said Theresa Samot, BOE president. “Board, if you agree, I’ll certainly contact the consultants again and maybe get some recommendations in writing from them that I could share with everybody, because we want to do what’s best for the students in the district, absolutely.”

Also during public input, parent Allison Scanlon brought up the district’s recent decision to wait another year to apply for a Local Government Efficiency Grant on shared services with several other neighboring districts.

When she asked if there could be an opportunity for the community to weigh in on conversations about reapplying, Dr. Bonuso and several board members answered, “Absolutely.”

In related news, the district announced on Monday that it had added $100,000 to its proposed budget, bringing the total to $35,508,622. Of this increase, $40,000 will be used to install security cameras at all exterior doors, as well as an entry alert system, $30,000 will be used to upgrade communications systems in the school, and an additional $10,000 has been proposed to fund a summer program.

There will also be a $5,000 decrease in an account under the umbrella of students with disabilities, and this money will be put toward the $25,000 set aside for the creation of a school-wide drug and alcohol program.

At the same time, revenues are expected to increase by $1,326,366 or 3.88 percent from last year.

Of the $35,508,622 coming into the district, $32,739,375 is from the tax levy; $1,548,247 is from state aid projections; $475,000 is from out-of-district tuitions; $117,000 is from PILOT payments and $50,000 is expected from sharing services and facilities with other districts. $500,000 will come from an appropriated fund balance and the remaining $145,361 is from grants, interest and miscellaneous revenue.

Following a suggestion from board member Mary Anne Miller, the BOE has decided to hold an extra budget workshop, which will take place on Monday, April 22 at 5:30 p.m. Prior to the workshop, community members may submit their questions on the budget on homepage of the school’s website.

Also on the district’s plate is a series of upcoming curriculum workshops—much like the budget workshops that were held this spring — which will be open to the public.

The first is on foreign language offerings and will take place at 6:30 p.m. on April 22, following the budget workshop. During this time, language teachers will discuss the current status, changes and challenges to their curriculum.

Two other workshops on math and the IB program will be held on May 7 and June 3, respectively.

Pierson Win Sets Up Showdown for Class C Title

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Ian Barrett goes up for two of his 16 points against Greenport on Tuesday.

By Gavin Menu; photography by Michael Heller

By Gavin Menu

Here we go again, Whalers fans.

The Pierson boys basketball team will play rival Stony Brook for the second consecutive year with the Suffolk County Class C Championship on the line after the Whalers knocked off visiting Greenport, 63-41, in an outbracket game on Tuesday night.

Although Stony Brook is the top-seeded Class C team in the county, it will be the Whalers defending their crown tonight, February 14, at Westhampton Beach High School at 6:30 p.m. The Whalers won the title last year on a last second three-pointer by then-sophomore Forrest Loesch, who gave Pierson a 34-32 victory and its first county title in 18 years.

Stony Brook this season has steamrolled the League VIII competition and took an undefeated record into Pierson’s home gym for the regular season finale on February 7. Stony Brook rested three of its regular starters and the Whalers won, 57-45, to spoil the Bears’ perfect season. In the teams’ other meeting this year, Stony Brook won a nail biter, 51-50, back on January 15.

“Hopefully this time we will be up four with a minute left,” Pierson head coach Dan White said on Tuesday when asked whether he could handle another miraculous finish with so much on the line. “I can’t do that again.”

The Bears boast a powerful front line that could pose rebounding problems for the Whalers, who lack any significant height and struggled at times Tuesday night to secure defensive rebounds against Greenport.

Stony Brook got out to a fast start against Pierson in the teams’ first meeting this year and barely held on after a frantic charge by Pierson led by Forrest Loesch and his 23 points fell just short.  Pierson outscored the Bears, 36,27, in the fourth quarter but could not overcome a slow start in which they fell behind by 10 points in the first quarter.

Pierson on Tuesday was looking to avenge a loss to the Porters late last month and came out determined with 19 first-quarter points, 12 of which came from the hot hand of senior Jake Bennett, who finished the game with 18 points while also holding Greenport star Gavin Dibble to just five points in the second half and 11 overall. Bennett also had six rebounds, five assists and two steals in one of his best overall games of the season.

“Jake Bennett with another tremendous job tonight,” White said. “He not only held Dibble back from scoring, but he didn’t even allow him to get the ball a lot of the time, so they could not set up their offense.”

Ian Barrett had 16 points for the Whalers in his best game of the season since coming back from injury and senior forward Patrick Sloane chipped in with 14 points and eight rebounds as he, Bennett, Joey Butts, Aiden Kirrane and Liam Doyle played the last home game of their Pierson careers.

Senior Jackson Marienfeld had to sit out the game after receiving two technical fouls in the regular-season finale against Stony Brook, but he will be back in the line-up for tonight’s rematch with the Bears.

Loesch, who led the team in scoring this season, scored just seven points against Greenport. Butts had six assists in the game but also struggled shooting and finished with just three points, although he received nothing but praise from his head coach after the game had ended.

“I cannot find a better defender on the ball and he’s smart out there,” White said when asked about Butts, who was an All-League selection as a junior last year. “I love that kid and I’ll stick with him no matter what.”

Timmy Stevens led Greenport with 17 points and helped spark a second-half comeback when he and Dibble connected on back-to-back three-pointers to cut the Pierson lead to 34-29 early in the third quarter.

At that point, Sloane and sophomore Robbie Evjen began pounding the defensive glass, grabbing rebounds and forcing turnovers that led to easy baskets on the offensive end. Pierson quickly grew a four-point lead to 15 with an 11-0 run in the third quarter that essentially put the game out of reach.

“I thought we did a much better job in the half court offense, and allowing 41 points is always solid,” White said. “We’re back on track.”

Killer Bees Forfeit, Leaving Showdown with Pierson in Doubt

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By Gavin Menu

The fate of Friday night’s boys basketball game between Pierson and Bridgehampton was hanging in the balance Wednesday afternoon after the Killer Bees were forced to forfeit their game against Shelter Island on Tuesday night.

According to head coach Carl Johnson, two “key” players were ruled academically ineligible and two other players could miss the remainder of the season because of medical reasons. Johnson said he would learn the fate of his ineligible players today, January 10, and that without them he would only have five able bodies to bring to Pierson Friday night.

“I’ve tried that before, and it doesn’t work out well,” said Johnson, who normally goes only six or seven players deep when at full strength. It’s a shame because we were playing really good basketball.”

Bridgehampton beat fellow Class D school Smithtown Christian, 74-63, on January 3 to improve its League VIII record to 2-3.  Senior forward Jason Hopson had a huge game with 27 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. Freshman point guard Tylik Furman scored 18 and Josh Lamison, another freshman, scored 15.

Johnson on Wednesday said he hoped to get the two players back into good academic standing this week so that the game with Pierson could be held.

“Our policy is if you’re failing one class, you don’t play,” Johnson said. “We’ll know more on Thursday.”

Whalers Stomp League Rivals

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By Gavin Menu

With their floor general down, the Whalers have responded with an army 10 deep.

Jake Bennett, Patrick Sloane, Joey Butts and Forrest Loesch have played at or near the top of their games since junior point guard Ian Barrett went down with a knee injury last month. And the team’s bench continued to develop during two recent wins that pushed the Pierson boys basketball team’s record to a perfect 5-0 in League VIII play.

But the fun is just getting started and the Whalers’ gym is expected to be packed tomorrow night, January 11, as rival Bridgehampton is scheduled to travel up the turnpike for a showdown between schools with close ties and rich histories of basketball success.

The fate of the game was hanging in the balance on Wednesday, however, as the Killer Bees had to forfeit their game against Shelter Island on Tuesday with two players out for medical reasons and another two having been ruled academically ineligible. Bridgehampton head coach Carl Johnson said the two were “key” players but could not offer names under school policy. Johnson said the fate of the two players and whether they would be able to play on Friday would be determined today, January 10.

The Whalers, meanwhile, will travel to Stony Brook, the undefeated defending league champion, for what could be a showdown for first place on Tuesday, January 15.

To say this is a critical stretch of games for the Whalers is an understatement.

“I think we’ve moved on,” Pierson head coach Dan White said Tuesday night when asked about the team’s performance following the loss of Barrett, who is expected to miss another week. “But we’ll see when we play Stony Brook and Bridgehampton.”

The Whalers shutdown both Shelter Island and Southold in the last week, winning both games by large margins.  After getting off Shelter Island with a 52-38 win on January 4, Pierson came home and dominated Southold, winning 70-50 in a game where the team’s entire bench saw significant action.

Loesch led the Whalers against Southold, a strong program having a down year, with 20 points and Liam Doyle came off the bench to score 10. Sloane and Butts each chipped in with seven points as 12 different Whalers were able to score in the game.

Pierson can legitimately go 10 players deep when Barrett is in the line-up and gets scoring from across the board. Sophomore Robbie Evjen joined Loesch, Butts, Bennett and Sloane in the starting lineup on Tuesday, and Doyle led a team of reserves off the bench including regular reserves Jackson and Cooper Marienfeld and Aidan Kirrane.

During timeouts, White said he asked his players as the game turned into a blowout to work on their full-court pressure defense as well as strong ball movement on the offensive end.

“We scored 70 points, so I think they did a pretty good job,” White said.

White went on to say that to beat a team like Stony Brook, which is undefeated in the league as well and boasts a towering front line, his team would have to consistently work the ball into “the box” as he calls it, or the paint, and work to get layups instead of outside shots.

Tuesday was another high-energy game from Loesch, who had 15 points and zero fouls at halftime as the Whalers took a 43-22 lead into the break. The deceptively quick junior forward had 23 points against Shelter Island and is averaging 20 points per game in his last five games, all Pierson wins.

“He’s got an engine like you wouldn’t believe,” White said about Loesch, who spent most of the second half on Tuesday riding the bench his with his fellow starters. “Last year he was like a bull, but now he has some skill to go with that.”

Lady Whalers’ Fast Start Slowed by Southold

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By Gavin Menu; Photography by Michael Heller

One is an unassuming but emerging athlete at Pierson High School while the other is an elite field hockey star gifted with superior athleticism. Together, juniors May Evjen and Kasey Gilbride are wreaking havoc on girls basketball courts this season, leading the Lady Whalers in a strong start to the League VIII season.

“Kasey and May and Emily [Hinz] play tremendous defense,” Lady Whalers head coach Kevin Barron said this week. “Kasey gets point guards so nervous because she’s so quick can stay with everybody. And May scores almost all her points off steals. She has been great.”

After cruising to a 42-18 home win over Shelter Island on January 4 in which Evjen led the team on both ends of the floor, finishing with 12 points and eight steals, the Lady Whalers traveled on Tuesday to play at Southold-Greenport, the defending league champion. Gilbride got her first start of the season and she, Evjen and Hinz helped the Lady Whalers jump out to an early 15-point lead in the first quarter.

But with their entire lineup returning from last year, Southold methodically clawed back into the game and trimmed the lead to eight at halftime before tying the game at the end of the third quarter.

In the end, the Lady Settlers (3-3, 3-1 League VII) pulled away with a 47-41 win that dropped Pierson’s league record to 3-2 and overall mark to 5-6.

“They will definitely be the toughest team we play this year,” Barron said Tuesday night after a long bus ride home from the North Fork. “We were preparing for this game for a week-and-a-half and the girls were ready and pumped and that’s why we came out strong.”

Barron said the team’s trademark pressure defense was a big part of the early success against Southold, but said the aggressive play also led to foul trouble as a result, with Hinz, Bridget Canavan and Sydnee McKie-Senior all having to sit out during crucial stretches of the game.

“Southold was in the bonus almost the entire second half because we were being so aggressive on defense, which is partially my fault as the coach,” Barron said. “They hit 23 foul shots, so half of their points.”

More big games await this week starting at home on Tuesday, January 15 against Stony Brook and against Port Jefferson on January 25, also at home.

“We’ve been having trouble coming out fast, and today we came out very fast,” Barron said on Tuesday. “We told the girls that if we can do that against Port Jeff and Southold again later in the season, we can beat anyone. We just have to play the full 32 minutes.”



Sag School Board Dusts Off Capital Project Plans

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By Amanda Wyatt

Plans for Sag Harbor School District’s capital project proposal — an initiative to tackle maintenance and building projects within the school district, that some say have been pushed to the backburner for too long — were resurrected at Monday night’s board of education (BOE) meeting.

Larry Salvesen of the architectural firm Burton, Behrendt & Smith addressed the board and members of the community on revised plans for improving the district’s buildings and grounds. Salvesen’s presentation took place on September 24, a year since he last addressed the BOE on the project.

This year, there are approximately 121 items included in the capital project list, which seeks to make improvements in building integrity, code compliance, health and safety, and energy conservation.

BOE Vice President Chris Tice said the school’s facilities have been neglected for too long. She urged her fellow board members to take swift action to move ahead with the project.

“Our buildings are in desperate need of some really basic maintenance,” she said. “We have areas that aren’t safe, and they don’t get safer if you leave them alone. It’s like a cavity in your mouth doesn’t get smaller if you don’t fill it.”

Salvesen agreed.

“Deteriorating conditions begin to accelerate over time. You have deteriorated conditions that have sat for years and need to be addressed,” he pointed out.

“This is so much more than anything cosmetic,” said Interim Superintendent Dr. Carl Bonuso. “You’re talking about air quality, you’re talking about safety, you’re talking about saving energy and money, frankly.”

The capital project program includes architectural improvements, such as kitchen expansion, window and flooring replacements and a partial roof replacement. The plan also involves the replacement of deteriorated walkways and asphalt areas, as well as the main entry plaza.

Ventilation improvements, the installation of carbon dioxide sensors, as well as the installation of energy-efficient electrical motors, drives and transformers are also on the plate.

The capital project plans would require a bond of $4,438,402, which is some $2 million dollars less than the project that was originally proposed. After the community voted against the district’s request for a $6,724,087 bond in December 2009, school administrators and the Long Range Planning Committee made a number of reductions to the proposal.

The fall 2012 capital project proposal includes $3,745,902 for the cost of basic repairs and $692,500 for reconstructing and expanding the Hampton Street and Jermain Avenue parking lots. Salvesen explained that the goal of the parking lot project is not simply to increase the number of parking spaces, but to also improve deteriorating conditions in the lot. The project also aims to increase traffic safety and maneuverability.

For example, the proposed Jermain Avenue lot is set back slightly from the street, with a landscaped island separating it from the main road. This would prevent cars from backing out directly onto the road and, possibly, into oncoming traffic.

Salvesen also presented two separate, supplemental propositions, which are not included in the capital project proposal. The first is the creation of a $1,620,000 synthetic turf field and a two-lane rubberized walking/jogging track. An additional $675,000 would be used for the installation of stadium-style lighting, so that students could use this new field in the evening.

With the supplemental propositions added to the cost of the Capital Project, the potential total would be $6,733,402. This figure is just slightly higher than the Capital Project of 2009’s total of $6,724,087.

President Theresa Samot suggested discussing the proposal with the school’s Long Range Planning Committee. Once these discussions have taken place, the BOE will present the committee’s recommendations at its next meeting in November.

If a decision is made, the district will put the proposed amount of money up for bond, and the community can vote on whether or not to approve the amount. However, the BOE said, a vote to approve the proposed bond would probably not take place until at least the early spring, and repairs would not begin until summer.

Lady Whalers Off to Promising Start

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By Gavin Menu

Most field hockey players and fall athletes in general will look sluggish at times early into a new season as they come around to the physical demands of playing full speed for an entire game. And then there is Kasey Gilbride.

Pierson-Bridgehampton’s all-everything junior midfielder was in overdrive from start to finish during a convincing 4-0 victory over Riverhead in the team’s season-opener at Mashashimuet Park on September 7. Gilbride dominated the action and scored a second-half goal that seemingly came straight from the barrel of a high –powered rocket launcher.

“Kasey played phenomenally,” head coach Shannon Judge said following the game.

Prior to her goal, which put the Lady Whalers up 2-0, Gilbride was angry over a no-call by the referee that would have resulted in a corner for the Lady Whalers. But rather than sulk, she immediately called for the ball at the top of the shooting circle and fired a laser two meters off the ground into the back of the Riverhead net. It was clear from that moment that the Lady Whalers, with Gilbride in the lead, would be a force to be reckoned with this 2012 season.

“She can be pretty intense,” Judge said of her junior captain. “She played very well today and she’s also a great teacher out there.”

The Lady Whalers improved to 2-0 in non-league play on Tuesday with a 6-0 win over Greenport/Southold/Shelter Island, with Gilbride netting three goals and two assists.

The team was scheduled to play Babylon in a non-league game on Wednesday after press time in a game that was important, according to Judge, since Babylon is a fellow Class C school from Division II, and a win would help her apply for a playoff exemption at the end of the season should Pierson fail to land in the top six in Division III, which is comprised of both Class B and Class C schools.

Against Riverhead, the Lady Whalers proved they would be more than just a team with one star player this season, getting solid play from their core group and goals from juniors India Hemby and Emme Luck and freshman Erica Selyukova, who rebounded another rocket shot from Gilbride for the first goal of her varsity career.

“Erica is going to be someone to watch in the future of Pierson athletics,” Judge said. “She has great athletic ability.”

Pierson had 18 shots on goal against Riverhead and dominated action on the offensive end with 10 corners to Riverhead’s three. Junior Emma Romeo, starting in goal for the first time, recorded the shutout with three saves while junior Katherine Matthers, who played limited minutes as she recovers from injuries, played well defensively.

Next up for the Lady Whalers is a game against rival Southampton at home on Wednesday, September 19 at 4:30 p.m.



Test Scores in Sag Harbor School District Remain Stable

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According to Pierson Middle-High School principal Jeff Nichols, AP and Regents exam test scores “remain stable” in the Sag Harbor School District. That announcement was made during the Sag Harbor Board of Education’s September 10 meeting, just a week after students shuffled back into school for a new year.

On Monday, Nichols and Sag Harbor Elementary Principal Matthew Malone presented the latest results of the district’s AP and Regents exams, as well as New York State’s Elementary/Intermediate tests.

Nichols reported that 94 students took AP classes in 2012, which is nearly double the enrollment in AP courses in 2005. Seventy percent of students who took an AP exam passed, earning a score of at least 3 (roughly equivalent to 65 percent) out of 5.

“Our performance, in terms of students scoring 3 or higher, has remained stable,” said Nichols. “To me, [this] indicates the philosophy that we’ve supported over the years, which is all students can do the work if you provide them with the necessary resources to be successful.”

While Regents scores were somewhat mixed, there was an improvement in certain subjects. For example, 87 percent of students passed the Geometry exam in 2012, up from 79 in 2009. All students passed Earth Science in 2012, up from 93 percent in 2009.

However, there was a slight drop in other subjects. For instance, 91 percent of students passed the English exam in 2012, while 94 percent had passed in 2009. Seventy-nine percent passed Algebra in 2012, down a point from 2009.

Still, Nichols pointed out that the decline can be attributed to two factors — the increase in students taking the exam and the increase in ESL (English as a Second Language) students in the district.

Students in third through eighth grade also took exams in English/Language Arts (ELA) and Math. The tests were graded on a 1 to 4 scale, with 3 being a passing grade.

In 2012, students in third through fifth grade and in eighth grade fared better on the ELA exam than they had in 2010, said Malone. However, Malone said there was a decline in scores among sixth and seventh graders. For instance, 75 percent of sixth graders passed in 2012, compared to 80 percent in 2010.

With the exception of sixth graders, whose scores were down, the math scores for third through eighth grades were either higher or the same as they were in 2010. For example, 71 percent of eighth graders met or exceeded standards in 2012, compared to only 55 percent in 2010.

Principal Malone noted that the school is required to provide academic intervention services (AIS) for students who only score a 1 or 2 on these exams.

In other news, the district is developing a new concussion management plan in response to New York State’s new Concussion Management and Awareness Act, which took effect in July.

“We’re in the process of getting that done within the next couple weeks [to a] couple months,” said J. Wayne Shierrant, interim athletic director.

Shierrant submitted a sample policy to the school board with guidelines on how to identify and manage concussions. It includes the education of coaches, physical education teachers, nurses, athletes and parents, as well as proper sideline management and emergency follow-up and return-to-play protocol.

Each physical education teacher, nurse and athletic trainer must also complete an approved course on concussion management every other year, said Shierrant. He added that there is a 30-minute online test that will allow participants to print out a certificate of completion.

At Monday’s meeting, the board of education also reappointed Deborah Skinner as the beach manager of the YARD Summer Beach Program and the group leader of its after-school program.

The BOE said it had made the agreements with other municipalities that help fund the YARD program, and had received payments from three out of four of them.

While these agreements run through December 31, 2012, Sag Harbor School Superintendent Dr. Carl Bonuso said the district planned to “honor its commitment to the program” through the end of the school year.

He noted that the district has “contingency plans” to help fund the program through June, even if financial agreements with other municipalities are not renewed at the end of this calendar year.

“Should it come to the point where we don’t have some revenues coming in that we expected for any reason, we would unfortunately have to tap into our reserves,” he said.

However, Dr. Bonuso added, “Given our conversations that went into the development of those agreements, we feel that it’s not going to be an issue.”

Community Coalition to Combat Substance Abuse

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By Amanda Wyatt

In order to combat drug and alcohol abuse, you’ve got to bring in “the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker.”

This is a favorite expression of Kym Laube, the executive director of the Westhampton-based advocacy group, Human Understanding and Growth Seminars, Inc. (HUGS). On Tuesday, August 21, Laube led Sag Harbor’s second community coalition meeting at the Pierson Middle-High School library.

Thirteen others from various sectors of society — including law enforcement, education and clergy — were also present to help build the foundation of the coalition, which is very much in its infancy.

At the meeting, Laube discussed the need for the entire community to band together. Rather than blame a particular group — such as the school, the kids or the parents — Laube believed the community must realize that dealing with substance abuse is everyone’s responsibility.

“In this field, we often say, ‘we can’t blame the fish for dying after they’ve swam in the polluted pond.’ And it’s really up to us to begin to take a look at why the pond is polluted,” she said.

Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Tom Fabiano called on the need to bring in more parents into the coalition. While some parents have expressed interest in the group, none were present at Tuesday night’s meeting.

Other participants discussed bringing in youth, as well as school security, janitors and counselors, in order to have a more comprehensive coalition.

As Laube noted, a community coalition does not focus merely on youth. Substance abuse is just as much of a problem among adults as it is among teenagers.

Still, the discussion of underage drinking and drug use at Pierson Middle-High School remained a hot topic. After the results of the New York State OASAS Survey were released in July — showing that substance use at Pierson was generally higher than average — some Sag Harbor parents were fuming.

“I received calls from parents [who] were adamant that [the results] were exaggerated lies, [saying] we were being so mean to the children,” said school board member and parent Mary Anne Miller.

Miller, along with Vice President Chris Tice, also mentioned the need to streamline the data. Currently, the results of the OASAS survey — as well as the TAP Survey and a recent survey taken by the district — should be reviewed and assessed by a professional.

“People may not realize that there have been three surveys, or that it is consistent,” said Tice.

“The bottom line is that all of the results tell us the same things, and that’s what I’m trying to get across to people,” Miller agreed. “And that’s the denial, saying we’re ‘being mean’ to the kids. And that’s huge in this town.”

Laube attributed some of the perceived denial to the stigma surrounding substance abuse.

“When we begin talking about [substance abuse] at a school, I always hear, ‘It’s a good school,’ and ‘He’s a good kid,’” she said.

“And guess what folks? Sometimes good schools and good kids make dangerous, high-risk choices,” Laube added. “And it’s our job to bring that to light and talk about it.”

Dr. Carl Bonuso, the recently appointed district superintendent, lauded Sag Harbor for being proactive.

“I think a sign of a really good school system is that they don’t just rely on giving out information; they’re willing to ask questions,” he told the coalition.

Another topic was the possibility of becoming involved with Vet Corps, a program that partners a veteran to work full-time with community coalitions.

“They really work hand-in-hand with taking a look at substance abuse, and also looking at how that affects the vet population,” Laube explained.

She noted that after San Diego, Suffolk County has the highest amount of returning veterans. Sadly, said Laube, each day a returning veteran takes his or her own life and one out of every three of those is under the influence of a substance when they do that.

Veterans involved in the program have training in the strategic prevention framework, and would be under the supervision of HUGS, OASAS or another organization. Laube said she planned to send additional information on this possibility to the coalition.

The tentative date for the next meeting of the coalition is set for Tuesday, September 25 at 5:30 p.m.

In related school news, the Board of Education will hold their next business meeting on Monday, August 27 at 7:30 p.m.