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Superintendent’s Column - July 23, 2010

Summer Letter to the School Community

The summer months are filled with a lot of activity as we plan for the new school year. I wanted to bring to your attention a few of the major changes you can anticipate for the start of  2010-11.


School Schedules

As you probably know by now, school start times will be different in September in each of our schools. The Board of Education reviewed an administrative proposal for different start times in early June, followed by a communication to all of our parents seeking their input into these changes. The decision was made at the June 30 Board meeting to put the following schedule into effect:

School    Current Schedules    New Schedules   

Middle School    7:55-2:32    7:35-2:12   

High School    7:30-2:08    8:10-2:48   

Heights    9:05-3:10    8:55-3:20   

East Hills    9:05-3:10    8:55-3:20   

Harbor Hill    8:20-2:25    8:10-2:35   

The reason for the change in the elementary schools is the expansion of the elementary day by 20 minutes, under the terms of the new contract between the district and our teachers. We are making this change in the simplest way by adding 10 minutes at either end of the day at Heights, East Hills and Harbor Hill. In addition, we will effect some long-discussed changes in the middle school and high school schedules, with the middle school starting earlier and the high school starting later. I am confident that these schedule adjustments will benefit our students academically at all levels.


Elementary and Middle School Testing

The State Education Department (SED) plans to make major revisions in the grade 3 through 8 testing program in English Language Arts and mathematics beginning with the administration of the tests in the spring of 2011. Prior to that, the state had indicated that it will be changing its grading scale for the 2009-10 tests our students have recently taken in ELA and math.

As you probably are aware, these tests are not scored the way typical teacher tests are scored (e.g., a student answers correctly 20 of 25 questions and receives a “grade” or score of 80 percent). In state tests, the number of questions that students answer correctly throughout the state are analyzed, and then the state prepares a table which allows an individual student’s results to be labeled as I, II, III, or IV (with I being the lowest score and IV being the highest). Our expectation is that the state will make the curve far less generous than in previous years, with the result being the deflation of our students’ scores. Because of these changes, it will not be as meaningful to compare scores from the same test last year with scores from this year, either for an individual child or for all the children in a given grade or school. We are being told by the state that the new norms will result in some students who have received “threes” in the past to now receive a score of two. Additionally, scores throughout the region are expected to go down because of this change in the norming of the exams.

When the scores come back from this year’s tests, we will do our best to help parents and students understand what the results mean. Our goal is to use all test results — those from teacher tests, nationally standardized tests, and state tests — to help our children grow and improve in their learning. We will be sharing the results with you as soon as they are available.


New Home for Adult Education

In June, the Board of Education entered into an agreement to lease the St. Mary’s property adjacent to Roslyn High School. This will provide a new home for Roslyn Adult Continuing Education, with considerably more space for the program to grow in the future. The facility provides many advantages for Adult Education, including ample parking and full handicap access. The Department of Pupil Personnel Services will also be moving from Roslyn High School into the St. Mary’s building, thereby providing additional space for the high school’s programs. In all, three classroom spaces will be reclaimed at the high school as a result of this move. Additionally, we will claim approximately 100 additional parking spaces and the use of the St. Mary’s ball field.


New Members of Our Staff

For the new school year, we welcome new educational leadership in our district. As of July, Allison Brown has moved from her position as East Hill Principal to that of Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction. Melissa Krieger has come from the Lawrence public schools to join our staff as the new East Hills principal. At Harbor Hill School, Maureen Berman, a 10-year veteran of the Roslyn schools, is taking over the reins as the new principal. Our new Athletic Director is Dawn Cerrone, who joins us from the Oyster Bay-East Norwich school district. And our new science department chairperson is Thomas Lynch, also from Oyster Bay-East Norwich.

Because of 20 teacher retirements in 2009-10, we are hiring quite a few new teachers for next year, as well. It is an exciting prospect to have a new “class” of administrators and teachers who bring their skills, energy and enthusiasm to the teaching of our students. I know that parents and staff join me in welcoming them all and wishing them success in their new positions.

Enjoy the rest of the summer, read some great books, and we’ll see you in September.