What’s new at school this year? Classes start at public schools in East Hampton, Springs, Montauk, and Amagansett on Wednesday. Here are some changes students and their parents and teachers can expect to see—other than a newly downed tree in front of the East Hampton Middle School.
Richard Burns is the new East Hampton School superintendent, Raymond Gualtieri having left at the end of July. Keith Malsky is the new East Hampton Middle School principal, stepping in after Thomas Lamorgese retired at the end of the last school year. Assisting him, both as a new assistant principal and staying on as director of unified arts, will be Lawrence Roberts. Chris Tracey is still the John M. Marshall Elementary School principal, but he’ll be retiring in January, with Gina Kraus, the assistant principal, taking his job over then. her replacement has yet to be named.
Even with the weekend’s storm taking down a huge tree in front of the middle school, which workers were clearing away on Tuesday, and even with the district losing phone service and knocking down its internet to avoid losing any data, Mr. Burns said things were looking pretty good the week before the bells start ringing.
Last year’s school opening was a comparative nail-biter, as construction was just wrapping up on the district’s huge expansion project. The middle school, which got the least attention in that project, has more recently been in the spotlight, and it has new lettering above a redone entrance, new paint, and some new ceilings after an asbestos removal project.
New teachers were working alongside veteran ones in a district mentoring program this week, and the football team had managed to get a few practices in, despite the weather, which will satisfy the Section II requirements for competition. “We’re in good shape,” Mr. Burns said as Joe Vasile-Cozzo, the athletics director, gave him a thumbs-up on Mr. Burns’s side of the cellphone on Tuesday. Sports physicals were getting done, and a new concussion program—in which baseline levels are recorded in case a head injury is suffered during playing season—is already under way.
There will be a new kindergarten section this year, Mr. Burns said, but other than that enrollment levels are manageable.
The Springs School’s front roof has been replaced, and work on the gymnasium roof was still going on Monday. At a special meeting on Friday, the East Hampton Town Board approved a lease with the Springs School District for the Springs Youth Association building on the school grounds, which will be used for extra classroom space during the school year. “The hamlet of Springs was zoned dense,” Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson said at the meeting, “and we need to give some relief, period, the end.”
“We’re growing. We added a class,” School Superintendent Michael Hartner said on Monday. The projections that Springs’ enrollment would continue to rise until 2016, he said, were proving to be right. A first-grade class has been added, so there are now four, but one section of seventh grade has been dropped, which will make it possible for seventh and eighth-grade subject-area teachers, especially in math and English, to “push in” to the sixth grade and give them “a boost” for the higher grades. Also for seventh- and eighth-graders, there will be a new family and consumer science curriculum, a revised technology program, a studio in art class to earn high school credit, and classes in “contemporary law and public speaking” taught by Amy Turner, an attorney and teacher.
East Hampton and Springs have been discussing consolidation, Mr. Hartner said, and the upcoming 2-percent tax levy cap is “the big issue.”
With that in mind, the Montauk School has no plans to expand its curriculum, said School Superintendent Jack Perna last week, although prekindergartners through sixth-graders will have more intense immersion in reading in their English language arts program. Mr. Perna said he’s been able to free up “almost a period” in fifth grade to study American plays, playwrights and poetry and in sixth grade for classical theater and Shakespeare. “Both match their social studies curriculum,” he said: American history in fifth and Western civilization in sixth. “I am pretty excited about those two courses,” he said. “Some of their time we’ll put the health in there. It should be pretty exciting, we might have surprises for the kids just to get it going.”
Chris Mandato, a newly minted music teacher, will replace Ralph Urban, who retired at the end of last year after decades at the Montauk School. There will be one fewer teacher aide and one less teaching assistant in one of the special-ed classes, Mr. Perna said. “We’re going to try to do without.”