05/18/11 10:16pm

Teacher contract negotiations began on May 10, when four members of the Shelter Island Faculty Association (SIFA) and the school’s attorney met in their first official teacher contract sit-down. Two more talks are scheduled for May 31 and June 16.

Sitting at the negotiation table were SIFA President Dr. Frank Emmett and SIFA members Brian Becker, Dr. James Dibble and Jennifer Rylott, on behalf of SIFA; negotiating on behalf of the school was Mary Anne Sadowski of Ingerman Smith LLP. School Business Leader Sam Schneider was also present to provide Ms. Sadowski with the data she needs during the negotiations. Interim Superintendent Robert Parry was present for part of the meeting.

The parties exchanged proposals and asked questions, Mr. Parry said, but both he and Dr. Emmett declined to describe the specifics of the proposals or what was discussed. The school’s contract with SIFA will expire June 30, 2011. Normally the teacher contract talks don’t begin until school-related professional (SRP) and custodial negotiations are completed, Mr. Parry said, but since those negotiations are taking so long, the teacher contract talks had to get started, he explained.

An SRP and custodial contract negotiation meeting was scheduled for yesterday afternoon, May 18, after the Reporter went to press. Meetings since October have utilized a Public Employee Relations Board mediator with no resolution. “Those talks are proceeding very slowly,” Mr. Parry said. If the parties are unable to reach a compromise, the mediator will appoint someone to serve as a fact finder, who will listen to both sides and then issue a contract recommendation, which either side can accept or reject.

SIFA declared that the SRP and custodial talks were at an impasse last fall, according to Dr. Emmett. The SRP and custodial contract expired on June 30, 2010.

Last year’s SRP and custodial contract negotiations were completed on January 26 and approved by the School Board on February 9, giving the employees a 5-percent raise.

School-related professionals include teacher’s aides, clerical staff and food service workers. The custodial contracts and SRP contracts are separate, Dr. Emmett noted, but are negotiated at the same time since the language of the contracts is similar.

He said that this is the first time, to his knowledge, that the talks have required a mediator. He’s been on the district faculty since 1992.

05/18/11 9:37pm

JON KILB PHOTO | Cardillo finishes the anchor leg in the 4x800 relay, helping his team to win the state championship.

Shelter Island summer resident Tyler Cardillo officially became Florida’s fastest high school miler  on May 6, when he took the gold at the Florida High School Athletic Association championships at Showalter Field in Winter Park, Florida. He broke the tape with a time of 4:11.27, his personal best.

He also ran the anchor leg for his 4×800 meter relay team to help win the state championship in that event for the second year in a row.

Cardillo’s relay teammates are Anthony Borrego, Bryan Hilgar and Ryan Schnulle. The boys finished in 7:40.44, about 3 seconds shy of the state record, 7:37.76. Cardillo also ran an individual 800 meter race, in which he finished in 8th place with a time of 1:56.05.

His performances helped his school win the boys overall team title, awarded to the team with the most points. Cardillo is a senior at Charlotte High School in Punta Gorda, Florida, and plans to continue his running career at the University of Florida, which he’ll be attending in the fall.

He said the mile victory was a more satisfying accomplishment than the relay victory, because his defending champion relay team had been heavily favored to win again. He said that in the relay, “We won by 16 seconds — that’s over 100 meters. I love running with the team, but winning the individual title was what I’ve been trying to do all four years, and I finally got it.”

Cardillo has been training with Islander Cliff Clark, a family friend, since 8th grade. Clark is a running enthusiast who has helped train other champion Island runners including Janelle Kraus and Alexis Hamblet. Cardillo is currently gearing up for the New Balance Outdoor National Championships in Greensboro, North Carolina on June 18.

He placed third in the New Balance Indoor National Championships at the New York Armory in Manhattan on March 13 with his 4:13.48 mile performance.

05/12/11 12:25am

The Shelter Island School Board hired the district’s new superintendent at its Monday night meeting. Dr. Michael Hynes will begin the transition to the superintendent position on May 17, working with interim Superintendent Robert Parry to learn the ins and outs of the school before he takes over on July 1.

“It’s an absolute honor and a pleasure to have you here with us,” Board President Rebecca Mundy told him after the board officially voted to hire him. He will be paid $730 a day on the days he comes in. When he becomes full time, his salary will be $175,000.

Dr. Hynes, 40, lives in Center Moriches with his wife Erin and their three children. He is currently the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for the Plainedge School District in North Massapequa, where he’s been since 2008. He is responsible for the districts’ K-12 curriculum and professional development, instruction and student assessments.

After taking a seat at the School Board table offered to him by Mr. Parry, Dr. Hynes said, “I look forward to all the work that we have to do, and to me the most important thing in my first 100 days is to meet with as many people as humanly possible, to get to know each and every one of you.”

The hiring of a superintendent ends a process that began almost exactly one year ago, when, on May 10, 2010, then-Superintendent Sharon Clifford announced her resignation, effective at the end of the school year. About a month later, on June 14, the board hired Mr. Parry on an interim basis until the board could find a replacement. The board hired a search consultant, School Leadership LLC, in October to help find a replacement, and after a public forum in November, discussions with students, staff, parents and an online questionnaire, the search attracted 89 applicants. The board eventually decided on Dr. Hynes.

Dr. Hynes told the Reporter that he had a “100-day plan” for the start of his superintendency, a two-pronged approach: “The first objective is to maintain and establish quality relationships. I want to meet with over 100 families in the first 100 days — and not just the families themselves, but everyone who’s part of the Shelter Island community.” He plans to do that through scheduled public meetings and coffee hours, both before and after school. “Everyone will have the ability at some point to reach out,” he said.

The second objective, he said, is “a comprehensive organizational review of the internal structures we have in place,” including how the district houses student information, the budget development process and how the district communicates with the community, among others.

Dr. Hynes said he was excited to start working at Shelter Island: “You don’t see too many K-12 school districts anymore that are housed in one building, so it’s a great educational and professional opportunity.”

He said the school’s small size reminded him of his undergraduate experience at Bethany College in West Virginia. “What really made that experience meaningful is that you have the opportunity to forge those relationships and get to know everybody. That’s harder to do in a larger district, and that’s what makes Shelter Island so endearing.”

Prior to working in the Plainedge district, Dr. Hynes was an elementary principal in Center Moriches. The school received recognition as a New York State “Rapidly Improving School District,” meaning state assessment scores improved very quickly. It also won recognition as a “High-Performing/Gap-Closing School” because the test results of special education students had improved to the point where they were on target to perform as well as the general population students, Dr. Hynes told the Reporter.

Dr. Hynes started his career as a substitute teacher in the South Country Central School District in East Patchogue in 1997 and began as a teacher the following year. He also worked as an elementary school teacher, an assistant principal and middle school principal in that district.

Dr. Hynes received his undergraduate degree in psychology from Bethany College, and a master of science degree in elementary education, a professional diploma in school district administration and a doctor of education degree from Dowling College.

05/11/11 11:58pm

Voters will go to the polls next Tuesday, May 17, to elect three school board members, weigh in on the 2010-2011 school budget, vote on two bond proposals and decide whether to establish a capital reserve for Project FIT funds.

With just two candidates for three open school board seats, one of those seats could be determined by a write-in vote. If no write-in candidate emerges, the School Board would appoint a new member at its July 1 reorganization meeting or soon after.

The Reporter sent a questionnaire to the two candidates on the ballot, incumbent Linda Eklund and first-time candidate Liz Melichar-Lechmanski, asking that they answer the questions. Only Ms. Melichar-Lechmanski responded. The information below about Ms. Eklund comes from her responses to the Reporter’s 2009 candidate questionnaire and a phone interview last month.

Elizabeth Melichar-Lechmanski

TED HILLS PHOTO | Elizabeth Lechmanski

Age: 52

Education: Regents diploma, Hauppauge High School, 1976; liberal arts degree, Nassau Community College, 1978; bachelor of science in elementary education, 1980, and master of science in special and gifted education, 1981, Long Island University, C. W. Post; and master of science in school district administration with specialization in staff development, College of New Rochelle, 2000.

Employment/occupation:

1989-present: at Eastern Suffolk BOCES. I have spent the past 10 years as a central office administrator, principal, assistant principal and summer school supervisor. Prior to that I worked as a classroom teacher.

1987-2000: at Raynor Country Day School (private pre-K to grade 8) where I worked as staff supervisor and program coordinator.

1989-1991:  Western Suffolk BOCES general equivalence degree instructor.

1988-1989:  Hauppauge High School special education teacher

1987-1988: Garden City High School resource room teacher/coordinator

1986-1987: Martin Luther King Elementary School, Wyandanch, special ed teacher and department chairperson.

1983-1985: Copiague Junior High School, special education teacher

1982-1983: James E. Allen Western Suffolk BOCES, ELA special education teacher

1980-1982: Burr Junior High School/North Ridge Elementary, Commack, Resource Room Teacher.

Family: Husband, Scott Lechmanski; son, Michael Thomas Melichar; stepdaughter, Elizabeth Ann Lechmanski; stepson, Phillip James Lechmanski.

Ties to school: Son, Michael, is a senior at Shelter Island High School; husband, Scott, and both stepchildren are Shelter Island High School graduates; mother-in-law, Edith Lechmanski, is a former school board member.

Shelter Island resident since: 2004.

List any relevant experience you would bring to the board:

In addition to the educational experiences cited above, I have served on the Shelter Island Shared Decision Making Committee for the past five years.

Why are you running for this office?

This is something I have considered for some time now. I bring a wealth of educational experience, both from the private and public sectors, and believe I can make a significant contribution to the Shelter Island School District. With my son attending college in the fall, I will have the time to devote to this challenge.

What do you see as the most significant challenge facing our school?

Maintaining the balance of fiscally sound, quality educational programming for a diverse population of students while maintaining a connection between the Board of Education, administration, staff, students and the taxpayers of our Shelter Island community. The “commitment to transparency” made by the existing board requires a collaborative commitment to remain public partners in education, not only in financial transparency, but in the decision-making processes as well. Throughout this past budget process, I have heard many creative ideas yet to be explored. Difficult times call for diverse solutions. Utilizing the principles of shared decision making, all voices will be heard.

What are your priorities in negotiating employee contracts?

The climate of negotiations can dictate the climate of the work environment long after all parties have left the bargaining table. Regardless of the individual issues, effective and open communication is of paramount importance. The scope of negotiations must balance present-day financial considerations with quality educational services that can prepare our students for a successful future.

How can the school improve the educational experience of its students and what would you do as a board member to facilitate such an improvement?

It is important to encourage the voice of the students and their interests, guiding them towards the increasing demands of the 21st century. Creativity in scheduling diverse course offerings should be explored. My professional life has been dedicated to providing superior educational services in many forums: as a teacher aide, classroom teacher, a building assistant principal and principal, as well as central office administrator. I bring a documented record as an educational leader, negotiator and problem solver to the table. I am dedicated to making this commitment to the students and community of Shelter Island.

Linda C. Eklund

TED HILLS PHOTO | Linda Eklund

Age: 57

(The following is from Ms. Eklund’s responses to the 2009 Candidate Questionnaire):

Education: Except for a two-year stint in Maryland, all of my formal education has been in New York State, which is complemented by the empirical knowledge I have gleaned through business, parenting and being a life-long learner.

Employment/occupation: Self-employed since 1979; all businesses still in active operation.

Family: Husband, James; daughter, Elizabeth; sons, Jonathan and Andrew; mother, Janet Carlson and sister-in-law, teacher Jenifer Corwin.

Ties to school: Parent of three Shelter Island graduates; repeat member of the Budget Review and Shared Decision Making committees, completed required training in consensus building; instrumental in acquiring information regarding the National Education Foundation from Washington, D.C. for the superintendent; past substitute teacher in elementary, middle and high school; producer and assistant producer of Drama Club’s first productions; chaperone of 2002 senior class trip when no faculty was available; held Girl Scout meetings in the school for the three years I was their leader; PTSA member since 1985 and president for two years.

Created the “Island Boosters,” who raised enough money to secure the fall sports program for the students when the budget was defeated; volunteered my establishment and personnel services for the annual Honor Society induction dinners and numerous other events for and including students. School Board member since May 2008.

Shelter Island resident part-time since 1954, full-time since 1973.

Relevant experience:

1. I have owned and operated three businesses since 1979, all of which are currently active. I have had the pleasure of employing Island students for much of that time.

2. I have three children with very different learning styles that range from gifted to requiring additional support. While they all graduated from Shelter Island, I experienced the different teaching styles of other schools they attended during part of their high school years. Through this experience, I have been better able to see where the education at Shelter Island could be improved and better able to understand what might be possible within our school setting with the talent and dedication of the staff we already have.

3. As an employer of students since 1979, I have created friendships that exist today, thus giving me the opportunity to discuss what they felt were the pros and cons of their experience while attending Shelter Island School and, especially, how they fared after graduating.

What are your priorities in negotiating employee contracts?

We need to be fair to the employee to insure motivation and attract good people while remaining fiscally responsible to the district and stay within expected limits of expense.

Why are you running for this office?

The following is Ms. Eklund’s response to a question in an April 19 phone interview: I think there’s still a lot to be done. I think that this current board has done a great deal to bring the building into compliance, and also put the property on a schedule of repairs and maintenance so that we are not faced again with these massive amounts of repair work. I have never gone through the contract negotiations which I find to be very interesting so far; I look forward to being a party to that. I think that moving the school from the concepts or mindsets of how things are run in the ‘80s and ‘90s and moving this school to current day and beyond, that’s what I’d like to be a party to. I think that we have laid the groundwork, and I just want to see that done.

05/11/11 11:53pm

Here’s a summary of what voters will find on the school district ballot on Tuesday.

Proposition 1:
2011-2012 School Budget

A “yes” vote will approve a $9,640,614 budget for the 2011-2012 school year, which is a 0.97 percent increase (about $92,635) over the current year’s budget. Details appear in a separate story on page 11. The language on the ballot will read as follows: “Shall the Shelter Island Union Free School District Budget in the amount of $9,640,614 for the fiscal year 2011-2012 be approved as proposed and the requisite portion thereof raised by taxation on the taxable property of the district?”

Proposition 2:
Building Improvement Bond

A “yes” vote will allow the Shelter Island School District to borrow up to $2.237 million through the sale of 20-year bonds in order to pay for building renovations. School Business Leader Sam Schneider described the renovations as “health and safety” items.

Repaying the bonds would cost the district an estimated $3,592,600, or an average of $179,630 a year for 20 years starting with the 2012-2013 school year.

The debt service would require a tax rate of approximately 0.0589 per $1,000 of assessed property value for one year of repayment, according to Town Assessor Al Hammond. A property valued at $500,000 would pay approximately $29.45 for the first year.

The ballot proposition will read as follows: “(a) RESOLVED, That the Board of Education of the Shelter Island Union Free School District, in the County of Suffolk, New York, (the “District”), is hereby authorized to construct various building improvements at the Shelter Island School, and to expend therefor an amount not to exceed $2,237,000; (b) that a tax is hereby voted therefor in the amount of not to exceed $2,237,000 to finance such cost, such tax to be levied and collected in installments in such years and in such amounts as shall be determined by said Board of Education; and (c) that the District is authorized to issue serial bonds to finance all or part of said cost, and a tax is hereby voted to pay the interest on said bonds as the same shall become due and payable.”

Proposition 3:
Emergency Generator Bond

A “yes” vote will allow the Shelter Island School District to borrow up to $600,000 through the sale of 10-year bonds to install a new emergency generator in the school. With the school’s current Korean War-era generator no longer reliable, according to district officials, the building cannot remain an official Red Cross shelter.

The bond would cover $420,000 for a new generator and the labor required to install it and its related wiring; $85,000 to install an emergency battery-powered lighting and backup fire alarm system, as required by New York State Education Department rules; and $95,000 in contingencies and fees.

Repaying the bond would cost the district an estimated $729,938, or an average of about $73,000 a year for 10 years starting with the 2012-2013 school year. District officials expect to finish paying back the bond during the 2021-2022 school year.

The debt service for the bond would require a tax rate of approximately 0.0239 per $1,000 of assessed property value for one year of repayment, according to Town Assessor Al Hammond. A property valued at $500,000 would pay approximately $11.95 for the first year.

The language on the ballot will be as follows: “(a) RESOLVED, That the Board of Education of the Shelter Island Union Free School District, in the County of Suffolk, New York, (the “District”), is hereby authorized to install a new generator and related lighting improvements at the Shelter Island School, and to expend therefor an amount not to exceed $600,000; (b) that a tax is hereby voted therefor in the amount of not to exceed $600,000 to finance such cost, such tax to be levied and collected in installments in such years and in such amounts as shall be determined by said Board of Education; and (c) that the District is authorized to issue serial bonds to finance all or part of said cost, and a tax is hereby voted to pay the interest on said bonds as the same shall become due and payable.”

Proposition 4:
Project FIT Capital Reserve

A “yes” vote would create a Project FIT capital reserve fund, essentially a savings account, according to the district’s business leader, Sam Schneider. The reserve would be funded through Project FIT member fees and any money left after district operational expenses are met.

A “yes” vote will not result in any additional tax levy. Voters must approve the FIT proposal because state law prohibits school districts from building up cash reserves year by year through annual operating budgets.

The money would fund improvements to Project FIT facilities, not including the demolition of the current FIT building addition and its replacement. A number of improvements have been suggested, such as fixing the fencing and some net posts at the tennis courts on Duvall Avenue and the backstops at the ball fields at Fiske Field. Voters would have to approve any specific uses of the money.

The language on the ballot will be as follows: “Shall the Board of Education of the Shelter Island Union Free School District be authorized to establish, pursuant the Education Law section 3651, a Capital Reserve Fund to be known as the “Project F.I.T. Capital Reserve” for the purpose of renovations to the portion of the school building commonly known as the FIT Center (room replacement, window replacement, toilet room renovations, masonry/concrete replacement, door replacement, floor replacement, wall replacement, mirror replacement, office renovation, electrical, plumbing, heating/ventilation renovations, carpentry renovations, security systems, building expansion, the purchase of facilities equipment for proper maintenance, materials for proper maintenance), parking facilities and entranceway renovations. The ultimate amount of the aforesaid Capital Reserve Fund is $10,000,000 plus interest thereon and the probable term is to be 20 years; the funds are to be transferred from surplus monies remaining in the general fund each year as received by the District from the Town of Shelter Island for use in connection with Project F.I.T., that have been designated as originating from Project F.I.T user fees or from other appropriations from the Town of Shelter Island to the School District for Project F.I.T. Additionally, the Board of Education may make a one time transfer of funds are in excess of need, after repairs are made to resolve code issues, from those funds that were appropriated by Board of Education resolution on April 20, 2009.”