Now that the bond propositions have failed, I think the time has come to address the cause of the school district’s problems, rather than throw money at the problems with the hopes that the problems will go away.
To that end, I have the following suggestions to address both the short-term and long-term problems:
Sue the state for unpaid aid. The district should begin legal proceedings against the State Education Department to recover the $31 million dollars in state aid that is owed the district. I might even consider suing for retroactive unpaid aid from previous years; ask the district’s attorneys.
Assign grades 5-8 to both Pulaski and middle school. The district should implement the plan to merge the students in Pulaski Street School and the Middle School and assign grades 5 through 8 to both schools with grades 5/6 in one wing and grades 7/8 in another wing. The implementation should begin in September 2020.
Implement split sessions at high school. Starting in September 2020, the high school should go to split sessions, with juniors and seniors in the early session and freshman and sophomores in the late session. Assigning the students this way will facilitate both varsity sport participation and those older students that work after school.
Identify and investigate illegal housing. Sort the district’s student files by address and run a report by address, using a selection criteria of printing only those records where an address has more than three students at a particular address, or multiple last names at a particular address. This report will help to identify those students that may be attending district schools illegally. This report should be shared with the Town of Riverhead code enforcement so they can investigate possible illegal housing situations. The district should partner with the town to identify and address this problem since both are severely impacted by this problem.
Investigate placements of unaccompanied children. Contact the offices of Legislator Al Krupski and Rep. Lee Zeldin and ask them to obtain the placement breakouts by town to determine whether the placements of unaccompanied children are the cause of the space problems in our schools.
I think once the town addresses the illegal housing situation, the district’s space problems will go away and we will have sufficient space in our existing school buildings.
Sal Mastropaolo is a resident of Calverton.
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