JULIE LANE PHOTO
Superintendent Leonard Skuggevik and academic administrator Jennifer Rylott responded to queries Tuesday night about the combined preschool-kindergarten class.
Superintendent Leonard Skuggevik and academic administrator Jennifer Rylott tried to allay concerns about the combined preschool-kindergarten class at Tuesday night’s Board of Education meeting.
In response to a parent’s question, they explained that each student is assessed individually and that the preschool students would likely be more advanced when they enter kindergarten next year as a result of having been in a class with older students.
While the curriculum is different for each level, the younger children still hear what the older ones are being taught and will absorb some of that information, Mr. Skuggevik said.
Both he and Ms. Rylott spend time in the classroom and said they have observed that the program is working for children at both levels. At the same time, there will be assessments of student progress during the year.
With respect to a question about why the program was launched without state funding, Mr. Skuggevik said none of the districts knew whether they would get state money when they had to make a decision about whether or not to offer the preschool program this year. And he said he doubted Shelter Island would have qualified, but is glad the district opted to go forward with the program.
The two educators agreed with Board suggestions that more effort is needed to reach out to parents with children in the class to keep them apprised of what is being done and how it’s working.
“Shelter Island can be the leader in biotechnology,” science teacher Dan Williams told the Board of Education, explaining why the district should spend $7,500 to $8,000 to purchase the unit that provides the ability to analyze DNA samples.
It’s a piece of equipment colleges often have, but high schools typically don’t because of the expense, Mr. Williams said. But he has been able to borrow a unit for about a week a year.
Watching the excitement students experience when they able to answer questions that had remained elusive because of the lack of such equipment and the passion it developed in them for biology, Mr. Williams became convinced the nano spectrophotometer was something he wanted for his classes.
Its use would move the school’s advanced placement biology program forward, but would also be used in other biology classes and by members of his science club.
Listening to Mr. Williams describe the passion his students have was enough to convince Board members its something they need to include in the 2015-16 budget. Superintendent Leonard Skuggevik promised he would write it into his budget proposal and board president Stephen Gessner said if there is money left toward the end of the current budget, the board might consider buying the unit sooner.
“We’ll make it a high priority,” Dr. Gessner said.
The administration is reexamining its summer school program with an eye to better assessing its effectiveness, academic administrator Jennifer Rylott told the Board.
At issue is the number of students who participate, but don’t necessarily attend all sessions and often aren’t present to take pre and post tests to judge the effectiveness. Among the ideas that are being discussed is shortening the four-week program to two weeks, to enable children to participate in other summer activities on the Island. There are plans to speak with parents of students who have participated to get their input on how to improve attendance and
In other business, the Board of Education:
• Heard from member Marilynn Pysher about her efforts to have the town employ school social worker Jennifer Olsen for 10 hours a month in order to deal with issues that affect families and often carry over to problems children may be having in school. Plans call for the town to put up $5,000 with Communities That Care turning over $2,000 left in its account to pay for the extra hours.
CTC has never been able to sufficiently reach out to “at risk families,” but this would be a way of making that link, Ms. Pysher said.
• Will await suggestions from Mr. Skuggevik on ways to handle a request for turning the volunteer edible garden program into a club. At issue is a lack of funding for a club advisor in the current budget.
• Agreed to have a telephone booth in the school removed since it’s costing the district $90 a month, but is never used.
• Heard from dean of students and director of physical education Todd Gulluscio that he’ll look into policies about getting concussion screening for elementary school students. Policies currently require the screening for students in grades seven through 12. He noted that he has seen more concussions result among soccer players than football players.
• Agreed to develop an agenda for a board retreat at which members could talk about goals. No goals could be adopted because the meeting wouldn’t be public, but theories could be discussed, Dr. Gessner said.
• Approved salary scale adjustments retroactive to September 1 for Mary Kanarvogel, Jessica Bosak, Bryan Knipfing, Michael Cox, Debra Sears, James Theinert and Kerri Knipfing based on completion of additional course work.
• Approved a prorated $23,315 salary for Ian Kanarvogel as a teacher’s aide working .92 percent of a week and $4,880 prorated for working a .8 job as a teacher of adaptive physical education.
• Approved Peter Miedema and Danielle Gil as additional mentors at the rate of $1,500 in line with the Shelter Island Faculty Association contract.
• Appointed Catherine Brigham as an additional substitute teacher at the rate of $110 per day.
• Approved childcare leave under the Family Medical Leave Act for elementary school teacher Michael Cox on or about October 13 to 24.
• Accepted a $2,000 donation from the Shelter Island Educational Foundation to be used to purchase nine sewing machines for the home and careers program.
• Heard from member Linda Eklund that the League of Women Voters plans a fund-raiser at the Ram’s Head Inn featuring actress Jenifer Maxon performing a one-woman show, “Red Hot Patriots, The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivans,” the late journalist from Texas known for her politically progressive views. The event is set for Sunday, October 26 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. and tickets are $10. Ms. Eklund said in this election year, it would be great if students attended. All profits will support the efforts of the League of Women Voters.
For the main Board of Education story on handling discipline at Shelter Island School, see Thursday’s Reporter.