Featured Story

Letters for the week

REPORTER FILE PHOTO|

REPORTER FILE PHOTO|

School scores
To the Editor:
The Shelter Island UFSD prides itself on maintaining high standards for all of our students. We have spent the last several years collaborating with each other and the greater community to provide our students with additional academic and athletic opportunities.

This year marks the beginning of our new Pathway Program and Debate Team, as well as the return of cross country to our athletic program.

We were disappointed to read last week’s Reporter article entitled “Double Trouble” because this article contained information that could be easily misinterpreted. As we have stated in the past, Common Core testing is just one assessment that we use to measure student achievement. Additionally, our small class sizes can greatly affect our testing outcomes. Therefore, we feel it is necessary to clarify several items mentioned in the article.

To begin, the state average for students in grades 3 to 8 reaching proficiency in English Language Arts (ELA) for the 2013-2014 school year was 31.4 percent. Our average was 31.5 percent, putting us on par with the rest of the state.  Our mean scale scores were also above New York State and Suffolk County averages in four of the six grades tested.

In mathematics, the state average for students in grades 3 to 8 reaching proficiency for the 2013-2014 school year was 35.8 percent. Our average was 46.4 percent, well over the state’s average. Also, out of the five grades tested in math, three were well above New York State and Suffolk County averages in mean scale scores.

The suggestion that the State has come down hard on our district is just not true. We have worked hard to offer competitive programs while also adhering to the new Common Core Standards. We also have maintained that success is not measured by one test score, but rather the culmination of many other factors such as grit and determination that cannot be measured by a single test. The introduction of our Oral Comprehensive Exams to our seniors certainly addresses this issue.

As always, we thank the community for its support, and we are confident that together we can reach our goal of continued success.
JENNIFER RYLOTT, STEPHEN GESSNER
Interim superintendent,
Board of Education president

Plum National Park?
To the Editor:
“The Reporter Tours Plum Island” (August 14) states, “What strikes you touring Plum Island is the number of birds and other wildlife. Endangered piping plovers have settled on beaches and are protected from people tramping across them.”

With over 600 undeveloped acres and the largest seal haul-out in southern New England, Plum Island offers a remarkable opportunity for wildlife protection. On the island, I’ve seen seals sunning, osprey nesting, spectacular wetlands and beaches and people fishing the highly productive Plum Gut. Together, Plum, Great Gull and Little Gull islands are home to the western hemisphere’s largest colony of roseate terns — and one of the last large wild coastal systems in our highly-urbanized region.

“Pick the Plum for Power” (July 24) misses this. While the federal government does have a responsibility not to simply sell Plum Island to the highest bidder without appropriate cleanup, its life as a laboratory doesn’t limit its conservation value.

Putting renewable energy on the island and preserving its natural resources are not mutually exclusive. Zoning recently instituted by Southold would allow developed portions to be used for renewable energy research and the undeveloped majority could contain solar panels. The zoning is a helpful safeguard but not foolproof. Federal conservation action would best protect Plum Island.

The ideal solution is for the feds to retain the entire island. However, an alternative that both protects wildlands and provides renewable energy facilities would create jobs while preserving critical wetlands, dunes and meadows. Most agree that selling it all off to the highest bidder is not the answer: the General Services Administration’s plan could drive prices so high that conservation organizations and government alike are forced out of the competition, virtually guaranteeing another Trump playground.

A bi-partisan, bi-state coalition from Congress has proposed transferring Plum Island to the National Park Service or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Save the Sound supports this solution to protect the island as a conservation haven.
LEAH LOPEZ SCHMALZ
Director of legislative and legal affairs, Save the Sound, New Haven, Connecticut

Free pass for Missie
To the Editor:

Wonderful article about Joan “Missie” Mercer (“60 years later, she’s still the only one,” August 21), the only baby ever born on the ferry between Shelter Island and Greenport.

I can tell you, as her best friend, she is truly one of the very best people on the planet. Many of us have always felt that, at the time, the ferry company should have given her a lifetime free ferry pass, instead of a small, engraved, fake silver cup that is long gone. Of course they still could and get great publicity. I don’t really see it as being much of a financial drain — plus she’s 60 years old —can’t believe that! — and lives in Florida. Just sayin’.

Happy birthday, Missie. Love you!
DAWN LoBUE
Shelter Island

Feckless and reckless
To the Editor:
Reverend Al Sharpton has made a name for himself by loudly exploiting what he sees as civil rights controversies. Following the shooting death of Michael Brown, Reverend Sharpton wasted no time getting in front of TV cameras in Ferguson, Missouri. Reverend Sharpton stated that Mr. Brown was killed with his hands in the air, basically accusing Police Officer Darren Wilson of murder.

Does anyone remember the Tawna Brawley case? Twenty seven years ago, Ms. Brawley fabricated an elaborate story about being raped. With no evidence, Reverend Sharpton made Ms. Brawley his cause célèbre as he repeated her false claims, demanded “justice” and increased racial tension.

Today, feckless media outlets have allowed the discredited Reverend Sharpton to attack the police and accuse them of murder. Published reports, including X-ray images, contradict Reverend Sharpton’s “hands up” claim. Evidence suggests that before he was shot, Mr. Brown beat Officer Wilson so severely that one of Wilson’s eye sockets was fractured. When the investigation of Mr. Brown’s death is complete, the facts will come out. If Reverend Al Sharpton’s reckless claims are at odds with those facts, let’s hope that the media will finally take away his national podium.
JAMES STAUDENRAUS
Shelter Island