School Board: Ex-business leader hired to help in transition School Board; Rachel Brigham granted tenure

ELIZABETH LAYTIN PHOTO | At Monday’s Board of Education meeting, from left, members Mark Kanarvogel, Kim Reilly, Linda Eklund, Elizabeth Melichar and Alfred Brigham Sr.

The Board of Education of Shelter Island approved an agreement at its monthly meeting on Monday, October 17 to pay Sam Schneider, who was the school district business leader until June 30, $600 a day, or up to $7,200 for the school year, to consult as the new business leader, Wayne Vitale, transitions into the post. Mr. Vitale was hired October 5 to replace Jessica Mack, who left after only four months for reasons that were no disclosed.

Also at the meeting, Dr. Gessner congratulated special education teacher Rachel Brigham for her hard work after the board granted her tenure at his recommendation beginning November 15.

Board member Kim Reilly tendered her resignation, saying her job at the Nature Conservancy needed her focus. She promised to “heckle” from the audience at future meetings. “We thank you for your service,” Dr. Gessner said. “We’ll miss you.”

From the audience, resident Gail Draper asked for job descriptions for three co-curricular positions listed for approval. She asked if “Landmark Books” referred to a brand of the Scholastic publishing company. Janine Mahoney, a special education teacher, who was in the audience, said no, it is the” Book Craft Club.” Ms. Mahoney is the teacher receiving $1,358 for the job and described it as a self-publishing program for elementary school students.

School Superintendent Michael Hynes provided information about the literacy program coordinator and the literary magazine, the other two items on Ms. Draper’s list.

William Rowland said from the audience that his wife Cathy had been told a district job was hers when it wasn’t. “In May of 2011, Mike Dunning,” he said, referring to the school maintenance crew leader, “and Sam Schneider came to Cathy and asked her if she wanted a full-time custodian job.” When she was interviewed in September, she was told, “They’re going in a different direction,” he said, asking the board, “What direction?” No one can explain what happened, he said.

Dr. Gessner said he could not comment on personnel issues at a public board meeting but he could say the job was not filled.

“It was rude on the part of the person telling her she doesn’t have a job if a decision has not been made,” Mr. Rowland said.

Board member Mark Karnavogel updated the board about a recent field trip and Ms. Mahoney said there would be a MSG Varsity Challenge day in early November. Dr. Hynes reminded the group that field trips need to be approved in advance at board meetings.

A teacher asked the board to keep December 2 at 6:30 p.m. open for the Science Fair.

Board member Elizabeth Melichar announced that she, Dr. Hynes and Dr. Gessner would attend a school board convention the weekend of October 27-30 and apologized for not being able to resist using the phrase “shuffling off to Buffalo” to describe the meeting location.

Dr. Gessner read a list of goals for 2011-2012, including: reach agreement on the two union contracts in a way that meets the board’s financial responsibilities and is fair to the employees; submit a responsible budget to the voters in the spring; support the new superintendent; receive evidence of student achievement improvement; revise student conduct and athletics codes; complete a review of board and school policies; clarify the decision-making processes for employment and student discipline; clarify the responsibilities of board committees, merging, eliminating or confirming them; and creating a “Board Room” for research and meetings, where the minutes can be stored. The board currently meets in the home ec room.

Several teachers and employees were hired for after-school programs, and a complete list, with stipends, can be found on the school’s website. They include:

• Christine Gallagher as a permanent substitute teacher, at a rate of $150 per day;

• Peter Miedema and Richard Osmer Jr., intramural student weight training coaches, at $545.84 each;

• Jack Reardon, media club advisor, at $2,530;

• Donna Clark, detention supervisor, at $1,688;

• Audrey Pedersen, high school city trip coordinator, at $671;

• Jessica Bosak, ninth grade advisor, at $671;

• Teri Piccozzi, Spanish Club, at $1,358;

• John Kaasik, play director/producer, at $4,396;

• Roberta Garris, literacy program coordinator, at $4,396; and

• Devon Treharne, literary magazine, at $1,358.