The Riverhead Board of Education at is June 14, 2022 meeting. Photo: Alek Lewis

The Riverhead Central School District has a new five-year plan, dubbed “Thrive in Five: a Blueprint for Success,” that identifies five goals: improving academic success, improving the district’s culture, engaging the community and families, enhancing social-emotional support and improving facilities.

The Board of Education unanimously adopted the plan Tuesday night.

The document, which is available to view online, lists actionable items for each goal, and includes a timeline and district employees responsible for executing each action.

The plan was crafted by a steering committee composed of teachers, administrators, parents, community members, one student and board President Laurie Downs.

The first goal, Goal A, is aimed at increasing student academic growth and achievement, resulting in increased district wide graduation rates, increased student attendance, decreased dropouts and increased student soft skills. 

Goal A promises the expansion of the district’s academic programs, the most notable being the integration of the International Baccalaureate, a global education program, for all grade levels by 2027. The plan also includes a phase in of the AP capstone diploma program for grades 11 and 12, and the implementation of science research classes and clubs in Pulaski Street School, middle school and high school led by the district’s STEM director. 

The goal also includes the creation of curriculum guides and other documents for teachers and staff as resources. The plan also calls for the creation of a framework to support K-12 vertical articulation, which requires that “teachers collaborate to align their course material across grade levels for the primary benefit of students,” according to the International Baccalaureate program.

Other objectives for Goal A includes expanding and strengthening services for English as a new language students and students with disabilities, including increasing ENL staff members and expanding the language programs to Mandarin Chinese and American Sign Language. 

Goal B is geared towards bettering the culture of the district by reducing the number of disciplinary actions, implementing restorative practices and updating the Code of Conduct, which would also be renamed the “Code of Character, Conduct and Support.”

Goal C is focused on expanding family and community engagement by increasing parent participation in Parent Teacher Organization meetings, back to school nights and the district’s Parent University. Planned actions include enhancing district and athletic events, increasing awareness of communication platforms and improving the district website. 

Goal D aims to enhance social-emotional support, learning and well being in the district. Social emotional learning is the “process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions,” according to the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning.

This goal will also aim to fully implement and monitor MTSS [multi tiered systems of support] across all grades. According to the New York State Department of Education, MTSS “is grounded in the belief that all students can learn and all school professionals are responsive to the academic and behavioral needs of all students,” and focuses on making sure students receive support based on their needs.

The administration plans to present a MTSS plan to the board for adoption in the summer for implementation in the fall.

Goal E is to improve district facilities by addressing the needs of current facilities and conditions of school buildings. The goal entails developing short and long term plans to upgrade and enhance facilities, and to establish a budget plan to address facility needs.

The board of education unanimously adopted the plan 5-0, with President Laurie Downs and Trustee Virginia Healy absent. 

The plan the board voted on was amended from the copy currently online. Originally, the document changed the district’s mission statement to: “In partnership with our community, we empower students to reach their highest potential for social, emotional and academic success.” Board members objected to the change and said the current mission statement was strong.

“I appreciate the effort, but I feel it’s lacking,” Trustee Therese Zuhoski said. “I think the original mission statement that we have really speaks to our schools, our staff, our students and our community.”

The board adopted the plan with the district’s current mission statement.

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Alek Lewis is a lifelong Riverhead resident and a 2021 graduate of Stony Brook University’s School of Communication and Journalism. Previously, he served as news editor of Stony Brook’s student newspaper, The Statesman, and was a member of the campus’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Email: [email protected]