Written by Daniel Offner Thursday, 06 February 2014 00:00
Who could have predicted that a chance encounter at a PTA convention in upstate New York would be all it would take to get the state Deputy Commissioner of Education Ken Slentz to appear for a parent-teacher forum in Levittown?
“We have a lot of people in our community who are concerned about the [state] curriculum,” said Levittown PTA Council President Patricia Genco. “Hopefully [Ken] will put their concerns to rest.”
On Jan. 29, Slentz came to dispel myths surrounding the learning standards adopted by New York and 45 other states in the nation.
“Its not called Common Core because every kid has to be the same,” Slentz said. “It means that no matter which of these 45 states you’re in, you will be held to the same standards.” Following the state’s implementation of the Common Core-based English
Language Arts and Mathematics exams, many parents, teachers, students, staff and administrators had several concerns and questions about the curriculum and its impact on students in the district.
At the forum, one PTA Council parent asked about the necessary procedure for a parent to have their child opt out of the state exams. While not reciting the protocol needed to opt out, Slentz reminded the audience that the common core exams are a balance of information from districts and state assessments, which will help them determine what is working and what is not.
“It is the choice of moms and dads to decide if they do not want their child to take the exam,” Slentz said. “But we have to be thoughtful about what they’re giving up instead of the 60 minutes [required to take the test].”
Among the questions, a vast majority of people asked the Deputy Commissioner about the levels of stress placed on the students taking these high-rigor examinations. Slentz acknowledged the concern, attributing the increased levels of stress to “growing pains” that come with putting in place a new curriculum for 696 school districts in the state.
Wisdom Lane Middle School Teacher John Lipani disagreed with Slentz’s sentiment, informing him that students’ discomfort with the new curriculum goes far beyond the initial “growing pains” that Slentz had described.
“It’s every day,” Lipani said. “Whatever the lesson we are teaching, I’ve never seen the kids so miserable.”
An educator in the district for 17 years, Lipani said that he constantly wants to challenge his students, but doesn’t see what the new wave of state testing is doing for the kids.
And he was not alone.
“As a teacher and a parent I think we are failing them emotionally,” said one of the parents in the audience. “We’re not comparing one or two children... It’s affecting all the children.”
Slentz explained that in order for parents to see the difference in the outcome of their children, it is going to take some time.
With many moving pieces involved in keeping up with the Common Core, Slentz would also address concerns facing school administrators and teachers. Educators and administrators have encountered an added amount of pressure to engage with collective bargaining units to submit an Annual Professional Performance Review—a means of teacher and principal evaluation that must be negotiated with union leaders—by the state’s deadline.
“We are well on the way to making changes by next year,” said Levittown Schools Superintendent Dr. James Grossane on the status of the district’s APPR.
Slentz went on to debrief the audience on plans to phase in the curriculum for high school students. According to Slentz, the state plans to adjust how it will be introduced this year by providing high school students taking new Algebra regents examinations, with the option of taking the older assessments. The higher of the two scores will count towards their grade.
Among a crowd of disgruntled parents, one mother, who said she was in favor of the new curriculum because it had elevated her expectations of her son, asked that if students are required to take two tests, with the higher of the two counting towards their grade, wouldn’t that only cause a gap between the common core and the older curriculum?
“Our hope is to close that gap over the next three years,” Slentz replied.
He added that the graduating class of 2017 will be the first group of students to be required to pass Regents based on the common core standards.
Friday, 18 April 2014 00:00
The Levittown Board of Education unanimously adopted a $198.7 million spending plan for the 2014-2015 school year, which comes with a proposed tax levy increase of 1.62 percent. This represents a $2.1 million increase from last year, for a proposed levy of $133.2 million.
The Levittown school district will receive $49,163,299 in state aid for the 2014-2015 school year, which increased by $690,049 from last year’s budget. The other revenues also show an increase of $684,250 from last year.
In the past seven years, the district received its largest percentage of state aid in 2008-2009 with 30 percent. According to Assistant Superintendent Bill Pastore, state aid has decreased since then, leveling off for the past few years and coming in at slightly below 25 percent for 2014-15.
Thursday, 17 April 2014 00:00
On April 8, members of the Levittown Property Owners Association invited all seven candidates in the running for Island Trees School District Board of Education to a “Meet the Candidates” forum. Of the seven only four attended, and only three spoke on the dais.
According to Levittown Property Owners President Diane Kirk, members of the Island Trees School District were invited to attend the forum, but declined stating that they were going to attend their own forum on May 12.
Challenger Brian Fielding, a 1995 Island Trees High School graduate, opened the forum with the promise of more transparency.
Thursday, 17 April 2014 00:00
Cantiague Park Senior Men’s Golf League had its first tournament on Thursday April 4. Twenty golfers came out on on a crisp but sunny morning. Charlie Hong was the only man to score under a 40, with a 38 and won for low overall score. Jim O’ Brien scored a 41, and won low overall net in a tie-breaker with Mike Guerriero.
Competition on the nine-hole course is divided into two divisions. Flight A is for players with a handicap of 13 or lower. Flight B is for players with a handicap of 14 or more. The league is a 100 percent handicap league. Any man 55 years or older is eligible for membership. We have many openings for this year, and you can sign up anytime throughout the the season.
Thursday, 17 April 2014 00:00
Trevor Williams 166,101
Keith Kyte 137,119,115
Anthony Baio 111,73
Alyssa Williams 141,133,120
Lauren Walpole 114,105,96
Kaitlyn Insinna 106,68,67
Robert Brooler 107,97
Frank Pietraniello 94
Matthew Banfich 140,95
Nicky Barrera 115,99
Jake Mauro 107
Anthony Barrera 97,79
Michael Pietraniello 97,87
Ty Peranzo 95
Steven Tiemer 92
Nick Bevinetto 90,82
Ava Banfich 103,101
Julianna Mauro 103,87
Gianna Centonze 102,91
Victoria Gray 91,87
Mike Rosen 87,86
Steven Brauer 85,83
Stephan Mandola 83
Joey Mohaudt 81
Pantelis Siriodis 80
Kelsey Casperson 85,73
Stephanie Tiemer 71,67
Kathleen Hoffman 68,65
Jason Tiemer 191,169,138
Max Benson 179
Andrew Scarpaci 168,162,148
Avery Benson 151,149,135
Matthew Brezinski 143,110
Ted Fiber 128,115,114
Paul Klein 126,107
Nicholas Pisano 123,115
Billy Walsh 108
Levittown Island trees
Michael Beck 117,89
Zach Pilser 114,110
Sophia Bloom 93,90
Olivia Bloom 81,79
Christian Tucci 88,85
Louis Bonaventura 84,79
Ava Tucci 74,65
— Submitted by the South Levittown Lanes