Three Village school administrators said this week that the district is well-prepared to welcome its students back to school on Sept. 4.
Despite some of the financial challenges associated with operating under budget cuts in many areas, new superintendent Cheryl Pedisich said the administration has been navigating them well so far.
"I would say that we are very ready. We’ve been preparing since the school year ended," she said. "We’ve been working each week to make sure that we have our facilities ready. In terms of staffing, we’ve been working on making sure all of the staffing is in place."
According to district data, enrollment overall is at 7,186 as of Aug. 14. That time last year, enrollment was a little more than 7,300. Incoming kindergarten enrollment so far is at 404, whereas last year it was 425. The largest grade levels so far are seventh grade, which has 663 incoming students, followed by the 12th grade, which has 662 incoming students.
Secondary class sizes will see some increases, and some sophomores who had requested "no lunch" in order to take more classes will wind up having to take lunch periods and prioritize classes so that seniors can take the classes they need to graduate, Pedisich said. It turns out that enrollment at Gelinas Junior High spiked a bit, necessitating some more staffing adjustments, according to Pedisich. Some elementary positions have been excessed, largely due to declining enrollment. Total staff cuts from the 2011-12 school year amounted to 109 full-time positions.
Pedisich said the district's former interim superintendent, Neil Lederer, worked 11 "very productive" days with Three Village to help in the transition to new leadership. The Board of Education had approved an arrangement for Lederer to work up to 30 days past his contract, which expired June 30, on a per diem basis.
As for the condition of the facilites, Jeff Carlson, the district's assistant superintendent for business services, said maintenance and repairs throughout the district's buildings have been completed and the facilities are "in good shape."
"We completed [everything] on time and on budget. After spending that much money we want to maintain them where they are," he said. "A lot of focus is on improving our buildings to make it more energy efficient."
That included National Grid's installation of gas lines so that the district can equip all of its buildings with national gas heat, as per in May.
This summer differed from the past few summers in that no major construction projects took place, he said. Among the projects completed this summer:
- The gym floor was stripped, sanded and refinished at Setauket School, which hadn't been done in 30 years;
- Refrigeration units were repaired at Minnesauke Elementary;
- The pool floor was painted ("a very involved process," Carlson said) and an automated chlorinater was installed so as to use less chlorine;
- The auto mechanic shop at Ward Melville was refurbished;
- The ceiling in the Ward Melville cafeteria was replaced;
- The library at Arrowhead Elementary was revamped;
- Drainage problems around Nassakeag Elementary and Murphy Junior High were resolved;
- 120 ceiling-mounted projectors were installed throughout the district;
- Some classroom renovations throughout the district;
- Thorough cleaning of every classroom in the district.
"The last two weeks before school is when schools get put back together," Carlson said. "It’s kind of like when you spend a day cleaning of your house. Everything gets put back together."
Pedisich said she is excited for the new school year to begin.
"I’m looking forward to the fact that there will be challenges ... to how we can move the district forward, what kind of innovative things we might be able to implement," Pedisich said. "I believe we have a wonderful staff and I think everybody is up for the challenges that we’re going to face."