School staff to welcome 212 students Wednesday

JO ANN KIRLAND PHOTO The Shelter Island School

JO ANN KIRKLAND PHOTO The Shelter Island School

While teachers return to their classrooms today, 212 students get one more day of their summer break before they’re expected Wednesday morning.

The student population is down from the enrollment of 226 last September. By opening up the preschool class to all Island 4-year-olds — nine are expected this year — Board of Education members expressed the hope last year that it would eventually result in larger student numbers throughout the year.

They made efforts last year to reach out to parents who have been sending their children to off-Island schools. Elementary School Chairman Michael Cox has been making a concerted effort, he said, to enhance the elementary school program to persuade more parents to keep their children on the Island.

The major transition this fall is the hiring of new Superintendent Christine Finn who officially starts her job on Friday. Ms. Finn has already spent some time in the building interacting with administrators, Board of Education members, the school staff  and faculty members who have been coming in to get their classrooms ready.

But until she settles into her new job, there are no major changes in the school’s approach to education, according to Academic Administrator Jennifer Rylott.

There have been, however, some changes in the building, Ms. Rylott said. What used to be the school library has been converted to the preschool classroom that will have more space for activities; library services will be part of a new multimedia center that computer technician Jeremy Stanzione is creating; the business office is being moved for classroom space to open up the area needed for the preschool class and multimedia center; and the Board of Education meeting room has been reduced in size.

As previously reported, the cafeteria is undergoing some sprucing up with a new paint job and student artwork on the walls. But a major overhaul the Board of Education had hoped for is on hold pending more money to cover costs.

There are staff changes with new teachers starting next week, but the only major opening remains a new district business official to replace Tim Laube who left Shelter Island to accept a job in the Eastport-South Manor School District.

The Board of Education has been conducting a search for his replacement since learning of his departure plans in early July.

He has been assisting in the search for his successor and has offered to put in time here evenings or weekends to assist in the transition when a successor is named.