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South Country Central School District Board Notes March 25 Business Meeting

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The Board of Education trustees and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Joseph Giani met virtually during the March 25 business meeting. 

Dr. Giani told the trustees that he received inquiries regarding field trips and District meetings. Currently, all District meetings scheduled through April 1 have been canceled and all field trips scheduled through May 9 have been canceled or postponed. The District is exploring the possibility of rescheduling canceled District meetings once school closures have ended and is working with travel companies on trip refunds. In reference to the eighth grade trip to Philadelphia, those who purchased trip insurance will receive a full refund. The District is working with the travel company to refund individuals who did not purchase trip insurance. Disney has agreed to full refunds for the culinary trip. The airline has agreed to offering one-year vouchers, but the District has asked the airline for a refund.

During the superintendent’s report, Dr. Giani thanked all of the volunteers who have assisted with the meal program and the continuity of learning plan, especially those who have gone beyond their roles in this unprecedented time.

Originally, the Board of Education was to discuss staffing and whether to appropriate from the fund balance and stay within the allowable tax levy limit. However, this budget presentation will be delivered during the April 1 virtual meeting.

Dr. Giani gave the trustees an update on the Continuity of Learning plan, which can be accessed by clicking the icon on the District website. The remote learning plan is designed to keep students connected and engaged in learning while school is out. Dr. Giani noted that it is not intended to replace classroom instruction delivered by faculty. Moving forward, the District will continue to refine, modify and enhance the plan, its webpage and the available resources in response to feedback and to provide ease of use.

For families in need, the Grab-and-Go meal plan is fully operational at Bellport High School, Frank P. Long Intermediate School and Verne W. Critz Elementary School between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Those who are in self-quarantine or are having difficulty with transportation may call 631-730-1501 to request a home delivery. 

As per the State of New York, school districts are required to provide emergency childcare services to children of first responders and medical service personnel. The Board of Education District passed a resolution which allows the District to explore a partnership with SCOPE Education Services to provide the required childcare services.

Dr. Giani also discussed with the trustees the remaining school calendar schedule. Due to the District’s ability to utilize snow days and a fourth superintendent conference day, the calendar is unaffected if students were to return on April 1, as previously ordered. However, since Governor Andrew Cuomo has extended school closures until April 20,it is difficult to predict at this time how the calendar will be affected until further discussions by the Board of Education.    

At the close of the meeting, Board President Anne E. Hayes and the trustees complimented Dr. Giani on his leadership in time of an unprecedented closure of schools and sent best wishes for good health to the community.

The next Board of Education meeting will be held virtually on April 1 at 7:30 p.m. The community can access the meeting by logging onto the District website at and then accessing the Board of Education tab for Streamed BOE Meetings.     

Kreamer Street is full of STEAM

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Kreamer Street Elementary School in the South Country Central School District hosted its second annual STEAM Day on March 12. In addition to science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics activities integrated into the day’s lessons, the students visited a SkyDome Planetarium, sponsored by the South Country Education Foundation, where they learned about the solar system.
School librarian Chris Belford allowed students to participate in an array of STEAM activities such as coding on Chromebooks, building structures using Kid K’Nex, drawing and painting and making a musical doorbell out of snap circuits. Students also harvested mixed greens from the aquaponic garden in the STEAM lab and bagged them for distribution at Island Harvest. 
Merrill Banks’ class worked in teams as student-engineers to construct Lego structures. Each student had an assigned job to draw a rendering and to construct parts of their structure, which were then put together to create a three-story house, cat house, house and garden duo or castle. The exercise fostered important STEAM elements including communication, teamwork and synergy.
STEAM Day teacher coordinator Gina Benzie noted that the day encouraged students to “explore through doing and to excite students about science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics concepts.” Ms. Benzie’s first grade class collaborated with older students to build leprechaun traps to emphasize STEAM’s engineering principles.  
During the 2018-2019 school year, Kreamer Street Elementary built a designated lab to introduce STEAM elements to students in tandem with the district’s grade-level curriculum. The STEAM lab is equipped with a SMART TV, a hydroponics lab, and opportunities to explore, build and fine tune motor skills through the use of Magna Tiles, Legos, robotics technology and more. The students visit the lab each week, where Principal Sean Clark said there is a lot of creativity and problem-solving happening each day.

South Country Central School District Board Notes March 11, 2020 Business Meeting

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During the first business meeting of the month, the trustees recognized those who contributed to the great success of the Bellport Middle School production of “Frozen Jr.,” held on January 17-18. Principal Dr. Jamal Colson said the musical positively impacted the students and community in many ways. Staff members Michelle Stiriz (director), Sean Austin (musical producer), Oya Bangura (choreographer), Alicia Ferrara (costume designer), Nicolette Clock (assistant producer) and Kieran Sawyer (stage manager) were congratulated. Dr. Colson also introduced shining principal cast members Madison Aruta (townsperson and an Oaken family member), Alexa Allan (Elsa), Kaelyn Schmidt (Anna), Max Yablon (Kristof), Mason Linke (Hans), Madison Roberts (Sven), Jacob Chojnacki (Olaf), Gael Michel (Pabbie), Samantha DeLillo (snow chorus) and Rileigh Picken (Queen Iduna).     

Dr. Giani also congratulated Frank P. Long Intermediate School teacher David Perkins who received NYS Senator Monica Martinez’s Influential Educator Award. Brookhaven Elementary School Principal Dr. Rebecca Raymond was also congratulated for receiving the Brookhaven Free Library’s sixth annual Community Partner in Literacy Award.

Dr. Giani also noted that further lead testing has been done in accordance with the Department of Health’s Lead Testing in School Drinking Water requirement. During the initial draw, 62 sites did not pass acceptable lead testing levels. Nine were water fountains at Bellport High School, Frank P. Long Intermediate School and Verne W. Critz Elementary School. During a second draw, 27 sites did not pass, five of which are water fountains. The District is in the process of formulating a remediation plan and is updating the District website so the community can more readily access the environmental test results. Dr. Giani also noted that the District’s bottle filler water fountains do filter and reduce lead and other harmful particulates.

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Accountability Marlon Small and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Joseph Giani delivered the fourth budget presentation on Instructional Codes (2000s). They noted that this area is the largest category of expenditures in the 2020-2021 proposed budget, which includes elementary and secondary education, athletics, special education, clubs and extracurricular activities, etc. Some of the financial challenges in this area include contractual obligations, transportation costs, benefits and costs associated with BOCES and special education. The District to date is still working to reduce a sizeable gap between revenue and costs. On March 25, the Board of Education will discuss staffing analysis and will discuss whether to appropriate from the fund balance and stay within the allowable tax levy limit.

The Board of Education also adopted the 2020-2021 school calendar, which will include the following: student start date on September 8, staff start date on September 2, no school on November 25 (the day before Thanksgiving) and one built-in snow day. 

The Board of Education is currently voting for the top three winners from each school for the Design the Sign contest. Students throughout the District entered artwork for consideration on the No Idle Zone signage to be placed on all campuses. The signs should be fabricated and installed during the  month of April campaign.

Bonjour, ciao, hola!

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Bellport Middle School students conjugated Italian verbs on flower petals during Foreign Language Week.
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Students in Gregory Jeffrey’s French class received an opportunity to eat king cake and learn about the French culture of New Orleans.
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An international food buffet was an opportunity for students to learn about the student body’s rich and diverse cultures.
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Bellport Middle School teacher Shannon Rigney, right, played international trivia games with her students on Kahoot and tried delicious foreign cuisine during Foreign Language Week.
It was a weeklong immersion into foreign language study and world culture as Bellport Middle School students participated in Foreign Language Week. Each day, students had ample opportunities to attend and participate in language-based activities to hone foreign language skills and to demonstrate appreciation for one another’s cultures. 
At the middle school level, students are required to take two years of foreign language study. French, Italian and Spanish are offered to students in seventh and eighth grade.  
“World language study is an opportunity to heighten and better understand global issues,” Director of ELL, Bilingual and World Language Programs Monica Pullows-Tetuan said.
Students in Gregory Jeffrey’s French 1A and 1B classes learned about New Orleans’ French culture. He played a personally-filmed video about the city and some of its customs and brought to class a king cake. The students also made Mardi Gras masks, which are part of the carnival culture and symbolism.
Italian students in Rose Menikos’ class honed their verb-conjugation skills. After being assigned a verb, each student wrote down on the petal of a construction paper flower an action word’s various forms of voice, mood, tense, number and person, and then decorated the classroom walls with the new blooms. 
In Shannon Rigney’s Spanish B class, the students studied Mexican music and watched the cultural movie ”Under the Same Moon.” Like the other classes, Ms. Rigney’s classes also played international world culture trivia with the game-based digital platform Kahoot and Jeopardy.
At the end of the week, faculty and staff relaxed over buffets of international cuisine representing the student body’s rich and diverse cultures.

VIDEO: Rooted In Love

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Click here to watch the video
Monday, April 06, 2020
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