As Schools Reopen, New Leaders, Mandates



Educators, parents and kids are out and about around Huntington, preparing for the start of school next week. Driving around town, you’ll see teams on practice fields, parents with kids in tow leaving stores with bundles of school supplies and bus drivers surveying their routes. Districts have been repairing buildings, examining reviewing security and welcoming new staff.

Here are some of the new faces, programs and policies you’ll see soon.


Schools are prepared to enforce the new state law banning claims of philosophical or religious exemptions for state-mandated vaccines.  When the state legislature passed the prohibition earlier this summer, which was immediately signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, schools scrambled to notify families that only medical exemptions would be permitted for their children to attend private or public school. Several districts, such as Northport-East Northport, have posted a detailed list of vaccine requirements, forms and explanations of what parents need to do to ensure their children meet the mandates.

State Supreme Court Judge Denise Hartman rejected a lawsuit filed against the exemption ban, noting that “The Court is hard-pressed to conclude that the plaintiffs have shown that the balance of equities tips decidedly in their favor,” wrote in her 32-page decision last week. And New York State toughened the process by which physicians can grant students medical exemptions. The actions were in response to an outbreak of measles in New York State.


Three districts, most notably South Huntington, as well as Cold Spring Harbor and Harborfields, plan to ask their voters to support bond projects. 

Cold Spring Harbor residents are invited to a meeting  Sept. 10 for a board presentation of work proposed in three  areas: enhanced safety and security; expanded curriculum opportunities, and repairs and renovations, beyond the annual budgeted maintenance.  That meeting will start at 7:30 p.m., in the Francis Roberts Community Center, 75 Goose Hill Road. Immediately following the presentation, the community is invited to attend the board of education meeting, which will begin at 8 p.m.

Harborfields has been having a series of eight hearings to discuss its proposal for a  $20 million capital bond issue, which will be voted on Dec. 3. 

South Huntington is looking for voter approval of a bond totaling  $115 million that would pay for changes aimed at enhancing academics, improving infrastructure and upgrading safety and security. The vote is set Oct. 7.

Building Work

Some students in Northport will start the new school year in a different building. Kindergartners and first graders at Ocean Avenue Elementary School will be relocated to Norwood for the fall semester because roof repairs are taking longer than expected.


Over the summer, several new principals, trustees or administrators were announced or took on their new roles. Among them:

Elwood’s board of education president, Julia Fried, resigned last week, Vice President Becky Marcus replaced her, and Michael LaMena, who previously served on the board, was appointed to the vacant position. He will complete the remainder of her term, which expires in May. 

The Huntington school board re-elected Jen Hebert as president, and chose Christine Biernacki as vice president for the new school year.  Michelle Kustera joined the board in July after her election in May.

The district also appointed Traci Roethel as principal of Taylor Finley Middle School. She had been serving as Woodhull Intermediate School’s principal.

Dr. Jared Bloom, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for the South Huntington district, was appointed superintendent of the Franklin Square schools. Dr. Joseph Centamore was appointed deputy superintendent of the Office of Instruction and Curriculum to succeed him, moving over from his previous position as assistant superintendent for business and district operations. Dr. Vito D’Elia became assistant superintendent for business and district operations.

Dr. Gayle Steele was named principal at Maplewood Intermediate School while Annie Michaelian and Maria Colon were named principal and assistant principal, respectively, at Oakwood.

Brother David Anthony Migliorino, OSF, left his position as principal of Notre Dame Regional High School in Missouri to become principal at St. Anthony’s in South Huntington, succeeding Brother Gary Cregan.

The Harborfields Central School District added 14 new teachers this year. The new hires will be teaching across the district’s four buildings and met in a district orientation with administrators, including Superintendent Dr. Francesco Ianni.

The Commack district has a new assistant  principal, Thomas Lipani at Sawmill Intermediate, and a new assistant director for special education, Savrena Riddle.  

The Elwood district welcomed five new part-time and probationary teachers, as well as a new guidance counselor, at a new teacher orientation this week.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kenneth Bossert spoke with incoming guidance counselor Janine Ferrante, music teacher Alexa Gottesman, first grade teacher Christine Messina, mathematics teacher Annette Tekverk, science teacher Kaitlyn Tuna and art teacher Joellyn Tuohy, all of whom will be integrated throughout the district’s four schools.

In the Half Hollow Hills district, teachers from all five elementary schools came together this summer to share best practices for character education and social/emotional development. Using the themes of Sanford Harmony, they worked to create a collection of common experiences for all of our elementary students. Each month will focus on a particular theme, with lessons infused into the classroom throughout the school year. 
The district is in the process of rolling out a new security initiative by installing electronic wireless door locks for interior doors that will be accessible with employee identification badges.

It is implementing Canvas, a Learning Management System to help communication within the district, and communication between home and school.

 For the first time, the district is offering the AP Research course which is the follow-up to the AP Seminar course and the second half of the AP Capstone program.  In this cross-disciplinary class, students deeply explore an academic topic, problem, or issue of individual interest. Through this exploration, they design, plan, and conduct a year-long research based investigation to address a research question.

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