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HS Guidance Dept. Needs...Well, Guidance

The Oyster Bay-East Norwich school district’s guidance department needs closer supervision or coordination of the different services that its four counselors and one assistant offer to studentds at Oyster Bay High School, said a consultant at a Jan. 8 board meeting.

“You have so many great things that are going on,” said Nicholas Amato, the guidance consultant for the district. But, he said, closer supervision of the services is needed.

“Nothing happens in the school that doesn’t go through guidance,” said Amato, who had served in the Mount Sinai and Half Hallow Hills schools, both as a guidance counselor and as an administrator, and for the past decade, has operated a consulting business.

Amato, who is completing his year-and-half tenure as a consultant for the district, spoke to the board’s meeting at the Oyster Bay High School library.  Among his recommendations that were implemented was adding one counselor and shifting two counselors to the middle school program. The counseling center was also made more of an instructional center with a college and career aide, he explained.

Guidance is concerned with the transition from the middle school to the high school, scheduling, the diverse educational needs of the students, as well as the social environment, Amato said. So the guidance department needs one person to oversee the various roles of the four counselors and working in consort with others.

To an extent, Amato, in his role of consultant, has been helping to provide some of the coordinating unofficially. Some of it has also fallen to Dr. Dennis O’Hara, principal of Oyster Bay High School, and assistant principals.

A supervisor could take any one of several different forms. Board members seemed open to considering the possibility but had questions. Several board members inquired about the cost and whether the district could afford another position due to budgetary constraints.

“The money is available,” said Dr. Phyllis Harrington, superintendent of schools, should the board choose to establish such a position within this year’s operating budget. For next year, additional consideration would be necessary.

“What we are lacking is a job description,” said Maryann Santos, a school board member. Harrington said that a more precise description could be presented now that the board’s interest in such a position has been established.

In addition, the board heard a presentation by Mike de’Venau, a computer technician, about a news system of correspondence between the district and board members. Under the new system, board members would no longer have as much district-related material sent by mail.

Rather de’Venau explained, board members would receive an e-mail notifying them of information for them to read in preparation for meetings, with a link to the necessary information. The new system would reduce the amount of the paper that members receive.

“You are saving trees,” said Ann Marie Longo, board president.