A Letter From the Board of Education

Dear Community Members,

Welcome back to a new school year! We look forward to rekindling staff and student relationships and starting the year on a positive note.

The Board of Education has written this letter to address an important school district community issue. We appreciate your careful reading of these facts and hope that this message corrects some rather unfortunate rhetoric that has been disseminated throughout the community concerning the status of the collective bargaining agreement between the teachers and the District.

Roughly 14 months ago, the contract between the Locust Valley Central School District and the school district’s teachers expired. There is nothing unusual about this status. The existing property tax burden, revenue restrictions under the property tax cap and general fiscal prudence make negotiations with collective bargaining units very challenging for all school districts. As a Board of Education that represents the interests of all taxpayers, we take this job quite seriously. About 73% of the approved budget of nearly $80 million for 2015-16 is related to employee salaries and benefits. The seriousness of the impact of contract negotiations on the District’s financial health cannot be overstated.

The teachers are represented by the LVSEA (Locust Valley School Employees Association), which is the local unit of NYSUT (New York State United Teachers). In a letter to the school community earlier this month, the LVSEA asserted that the Board of Education “violated the law” because it has not paid the teachers their ‘step’ increase on the salary schedule for 

2014-15. The Board refutes this conclusion. No entity has cited the District for any violation of law.

We believe that the language calling for salary increases (agreed to by the LVSEA in the last contract) requires that all prospective increases, including ‘steps,’ must be negotiated, not automatically granted. This is hardly the novel concept that the LVSEA would have our community believe, as the Public Employment Relations Board has previously upheld another Long Island district’s right to withhold automatic step increases on facts similar to those present here in Locust Valley.

It was strongly implied in the LVSEA letter, however, that the District’s leadership has been unethical in its treatment of this issue, has wasted budget monies on legal costs, and has not negotiated fairly. These claims are blatantly untrue. Specifically:

We have always acted in good faith and upon the advice of professional legal counsel. At all times, our representatives have been willing to negotiate a successor agreement to the expired contract. But it is the LVSEA that has chosen to simultaneously pursue litigation against the District regarding the automatic step issue in two separate forums (forcing the District to spend additional money on a legal defense) rather than negotiating away our differences and making a new agreement. It is the LVSEA that has rejected the suggestion of an Administrative Law Judge at the Public Employment Relations Board to combine its two proceedings against the District into one, which would cut the District’s legal costs in half, while still protecting their right to have a neutral third party review the District’s actions and determine whether teachers must be provided automatic step increases as they assert.           

In fact, LVSEA representatives have gone so far as to refuse to make a new counterproposal in response to the District’s last settlement proposal, have declined to meet over the summer months to negotiate, and have advised District representatives that unless certain demands of theirs are satisfied, they intend to let the pending litigation resolve the differences between the parties. In an even more surreal turn, LVSEA leaders at one point over the past year actually rejected their own contract offer to the District after District negotiators consulted the Board of Education and Superintendent of Schools and expressed a willingness to agree to it as being fair and financially responsible.             

We don’t begrudge the union’s right to advocate for its members. But the implications and outright falsehoods promulgated by the LVSEA to garner community support for its efforts are wholly disingenuous. Their not-so-veiled threats to create disruption and reputational impact are self-fulfilling prophecies of the LVSEA leadership, not the Board of Education.

We continue to want to negotiate a successor agreement that will resolve differences and support a financially sustainable school district, which would include paying ‘step’ increases. Given the LVSEA’s actions, however, we ask you to ask yourselves, does the LVSEA share this goal?        

In sum, our focus is to have meaningful dialogue with LVSEA representatives in order to move the parties to agreement. This has proven to be challenging, as all LVSEA energies seem focused on creating inflammatory signs, writing disingenuous letters, and unnecessarily involving parents and students in this matter. It’s a predictable union tactic, but one that we think is unfair to our community residents. 

On behalf of the entire Locust Valley CSD community, we remain committed to resolution and encourage our faculty’s leadership to help us create a meaningful solution to our current differences.

Sincerely,

The Locust Valley CSD Board of Education

Join Us for a Special Sept. 11 Memorial

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A September 11 Memorial tribute will be held during the varsity football game on Sept. 11 at 4:20 p.m. at the high school on Fred Smith Field.

Prior to the game, the Presentation of Colors will take place by the Locust Valley and Bayville American Legions. Students from elementary, middle and high school will display a large American flag on the 50-yard-line. The national anthem will be performed by very talented high school students.

A half-time ceremony will highlight the iPads for Soldiers fundraiser held last year throughout the school district. The iPads will be presented to a representative from iPads for Soldiers. 

The entire community is invited to this special Memorial event and to the football game against West Hempstead High School, which kicks off at 4:30 p.m.

 

Welcome Back!

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The 2015-2016 school year was off to a good start as students arrived prepared to learn. Kindergartners learned the ropes, while students in grades 1-12 reacquainted themselves with friends, teachers and schoolwork. Upperclassmen lent a hand to newcomers who needed to find a classroom or a reminder on how to get their lockers open. 

Orientations for high school freshmen and sixth graders prior to school opening made the transition to those schools easier as they took tours of the building and learned the rules. Kindergarten students were given special attention to ensure they felt comfortable and had fun.

“The first day was a wonderful start to the successful year we know we will have,” said Ann MacArthur Primary School Principal Dr. Sophia Gary. “There were lots of smiles throughout the building and lessons were already being taught.”


 

 

 

 

Faculty Prepares for 2015-2016

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Faculty members pose with Jeff Flygate of Marzano Research.
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Teachers prepared their classrooms for the 2015-2016 school year.
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Teachers prepared their classrooms for the 2015-2016 school year.

While students will begin a new year of learning one day later, faculty members became the students during Superintendent’s Conference Day on Sept. 1. 

Professional development provided to the faculty ensures that they stay abreast of the latest educational developments and have the best tools to provide their students with everything they need for a successful school year.

Jeff Flygate of Marzano Research provided a day of professional development on standards based teaching and grading for the middle and high school faculty. ‘This helps teachers transition to standards based teaching ,” Marzano said. “It prepares teachers to better identify what students know and what they need to know.” 

At the primary and intermediate schools professional development focused on aligning English Language Arts/Literacy instruction across kindergarten through fifth grade. Third grade teachers dove into the Go Math program that was introduced in the younger grades last year. Primary teachers also focused on reading instruction.

Preparation of classrooms including decorating and organizing also ensured that the faculty is ready for the arrival of students Sept. 2.

 

 

Two LVCSD Schools Earn NYS Reward School Status

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Locust Valley High School and Locust Valley Elementary School have earned 2015-16 Reward School status, the highest recognition given to schools by the New York State Education Department. 

Reward Schools are determined on the basis of significant student achievement gains between the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years. Bayville Elementary School also had significant student achievement gains, but will not qualify for this well-deserved honor due to low student participation rates from opt-outs. The Middle School also did not meet required student participation rates.

Garnering the Reward School designation may qualify Locust Valley Elementary School for National Blue Ribbon status, much the same as Bayville Elementary School did a few years ago. There is no equivalent honor at the high school level.

“Because this recognition is based upon annual academic progress across the full spectrum of students, it is a significant achievement to be named a New York State Reward School for the fourth consecutive year,” said Locust Valley High School Principal Dr. Kieran McGuire. “It is truly a testament to our ongoing efforts on behalf of all of our students.

Locust Valley Elementary School Assistant Principal Amy Watson agreed. “This recognition is undoubtedly well-deserved and a validation of all of the hard work and dedication of our staff and students,” she said. “Our teachers always go above and beyond to create a classroom environment that fosters a love of learning and encourages students to achieve their best.”

LVCSD Welcomes Newest Faculty Members

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Standing (l-r): Robby Harris, James Benedetto, Alexander Moir, Brian Kollar. Seated (l-r): Jamie Cherkis, Devon Gallagher, Kristin Smith, Brittany Fassari

The newest faculty members, hired due to retirements and as leave replacements, were welcomed to the district during a full-day orientation on Aug. 24. 

Throughout the day, information on many topics was shared in order to make the transition to LVCSD as smooth as possible. New hires were given access to their classrooms or offices and introduced to curriculum leaders, colleagues and support staff. 

The new faculty members include James Benedetto, high school media communications; Jamie Cherkis, high school mathematics, Brittany Fassari, Bayville Primary special education; Devon Gallagher, Ann MacArthur Primary librarian; Robby Harris, elementary school psychologist; Brian Kollar, middle school science; Alexander Moir, high school foreign language; and Kristin Smith, high school foreign language. 

The Locust Valley Board of Education, administration and school community look forward to working with these newest members of the faculty and wish them success in the 2015-2016 school year.

 

 

County Easement Will Not Hinder Opening of School

We are pleased to report that the Nassau County easement work being done at the Middle School/High School will be completed prior to the first day of school on September 2nd. District officials diligently monitored the progress of the project throughout the summer to ensure that the County fulfilled its promise to be off of school property by the start of the 2015-2016 school year. 

The entrance and exit to the school will be clear, along with the parking lot. However, the County informs us that they will continue work on Horse Hollow Road through December, which will require some lane blockages throughout the day. 

National Grid has also completed its work installing gas pipelines underneath the ground near Ann MacArthur Primary School and Bayville Primary School. 

Falcons Prepare for a Touchdown Season

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Drills and skills were the focus of football practice as the Falcons reconnected this week to get ready for the 2015-2016 season. The Junior Varsity and Varsity football players joined coaches on the field at Bayville Intermediate School early in the morning each day to train. 

The team members have been working hard during the off season training and keeping in shape which has helped them to begin the season ready for what the coaches throw at them. The team includes almost 20 seniors and is seeded second, only behind Seaford High School. With a 7-1 record during the regular season last year, the Falcons are looking to take it all this year. 

Coach Matt McFarland said the team is looking good in practice and that the Falcons are working hard. “This is a great group of boys and some great football players,” he said. “They’re going to play their hardest and do the best that they can do.”

Click here to read a Newsday feature on the Falcons.

 

 

The next regular Board of Education meeting will be held on September 9, 2015 at 8 p.m. in the MS/HS Mini-Theater.

The Board of Education will hold a meeting on September 9, 2015 at 8 p.m. in the MS/HS Mini-Theater.

Attachments:

Save the Date for Athletic Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

The Athletic Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will take place on Saturday, Oct. 24th immediately following the 1 p.m. Varsity Football game against Cold Spring Harbor.

See the attached flyer for details.

Use the attached application to submit a journal ad.

Attachments:

Board of Education Elects New Officers

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The Board of Education held its annual reorganization meeting for the 2015-2016 school year on July 8. During the meeting, Philip Bellisari was elected as President. Erika Bruno and Douglas S. Johnson were elected as Co-Vice Presidents. Newly elected trustee Brian T. Nolan, took his oath of office, as did Mrs. Bruno, who was re-elected to the Board in May. 

The Board of Education meets regularly and meetings are open to the public. Residents are welcome and encouraged to attend all meetings.