Trustee Laurie Downs was presented with a certificate May 8 for completing the New York State School Boards Association leadership development training course. Photo: Denise Civiletti

There was little public comment at a public hearing on the proposed 2018-2019 budget.

Former school board member Angela DeVito expressed concern about the adequacy of budget allocations for student supplies. She said teachers have been forced to photocopy books and buy their own classroom supplies, she said.

The $140 million operating budget, which was adopted by the board of trustees at its last meeting, will be put to a public vote on Tuesday, May 15.

New director of pupil personnel services named

Riverhead High School assistant principal Eileen Manitta was named director of pupil personnel services, effective July 1.

Manitta succeeds longtime PPS director Elizabeth Chappell, who is retiring at the end of the current school year.

Manitta, of Wading River, joined the Riverhead school district as assistant principal at the high school in 2011. Before that she served as director of special education in the Rocky Point school district.

Board members Ron Fisher, left , and Byron Perez were recognized by the school district for their service on the board since their appointment last summer to fill vacancies. Photo: Denise Civiletti

Board members thanked for service

Board members Byron Perez and Ron Fisher, who were both appointed to the board last summer to fill vacancies, were recognized by the district last night for their service.

Last night was the last board meeting for Perez, who has decided not to seek election in his own right. Fisher is seeking election but, as he put it last night, “there are no guarantees” so last night might have been his last board meeting as well.

Superintendent Dr. Aurelia Henriquez, who with board president Greg Meyer presented both men with certificates of recognition, noted how much dedication of personal time is required to fulfill the responsibilities of the board. She thanked them for their service.

Lori Riley, left, Pat Nash and Val Brown, flanked by school board president Greg Meyer and Superintendent Dr. Aurelia Henriquez, receiving recognition for their actions following a recent school bus accident on Sound Avenue Photo: Denise Civiletti

Three lauded for actions following bus accident

The district also recognized three employees for their actions following a recent school bus accident on Sound Avenue.

Henriquez and Meyer presented certificates of recognition to teacher assistant Lori Riley, bus driver Pat Nash and bus monitor Val Brown, who went “above and beyond” for the children on the bus, Henriquez said.

Trustee Laurie Downs was presented with a certificate for completing the New York State School Boards Association leadership development training course.

Focus on student social and emotional wellness 

Director of Guidance Charles Gassar gave an overview of a program in place at the high school that focuses on mental health.

Students’ social and emotional wellness are a priority, Gassar said.

The high school has a student support team that handles referrals of students coping with difficult situations, he said. The student support team consists of counselors, social workers and psychologists who come together to handle student referrals. There are about 70 referrals per school year, Gassar said. Usually 40 to 50 of them are ninth-graders, he said. The team usually has about four meetings per student through the course of the year.

The idea is to provide immediate intervention, Gassar said. “We are not equipped to provide mental health counseling on an ongoing basis,” he said.

The high school also runs an after-school alternate learning center, Gassar said. It aims to help students dealing with serious struggles, offering assistance from mental health professionals who do small group and individual counseling with students and their parents.

“We have taken some students who felt like they didn’t fit in and given them an educational opportunity beyond the academic walls,” Gassar said. “It’s a new pathway that really addresses the whole child.”

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.