Due to a loss of state grant funds, the Sag Harbor School District will now be operating its prekindergarten program through the district instead of through an outside organization, which will require it to hire and pay an additional teacher and teaching aide.
The district’s attorneys recommended that the district become a New York State-approved universal prekindergarten program in order to continue operating under a service agreement with Scope, a nonprofit chartered by the Board of Regents that provides prekindergarten services. But the district has since learned that it was not approved for state funding because its level of property tax revenue makes it ineligible, School Business Administrator Jennifer Buscemi said.
At Monday night’s Board of Education meeting, Ms. Buscemi explained that because of the rejection, Sag Harbor schools will now have to hire staff to operate the prekindergarten program, which includes a teacher and a teaching aide. The teacher will receive a salary and benefits for the 2014-15 academic year, totaling $91,960.87, and the teaching aide will receive $55,588.57 in salary and benefits.
The district will also be responsible for developing a curriculum and purchasing supplies, snacks and equipment for the children. Supplies are estimated to cost $2,000 per year, and snacks, $3,014. Equipment, such as play kitchens and houses, will be purchased at a one-time projected fee of $10,000.
The district has allocated $160,000 to fund the program this year, which currently has 25 students enrolled. It is funded by taxpayer dollars.
Superintendent of Schools Katy Graves said Monday night that because of the short notice, a current district employee has offered to run the program until a permanent teacher and teaching aide are hired. Children may see a change in their instructor in late September or early October, Ms. Graves said.
“This was really out of our control,” she explained. “We have to follow those legalities.”
The Sag Harbor School Board also appointed a new director of athletics who will be taking on new roles within the district as the director of athletics, health, wellness, personnel and supervisor of physical education.
On Monday night, the board appointed Don McGovern, a social studies teacher at Pierson Middle/High School, to the position. He will begin September 2, just before the first day of school. Board members said they created the new position in an effort to focus more on health, wellness and nutrition for not just athletes, but for all students in the district.
Pierson Middle/High School Principal Jeff Nichols was also appointed to director of physical education, with no addition to his salary.
Mr. McGovern will be replacing former Athletic Director Todd Gulluscio, who resigned in May after accepting an administrative position at the Shelter Island School District. Mr. Gulluscio was the sixth in a series of different athletic directors the district had hired since Nick DeCillis left the position in 2007.
On Monday night, board members said they felt Mr. McGovern was the best fit for the new position because of his coaching experience with the Sag Harbor Soccer Club, and the love he displayed for students during his interview.
Ms. Graves added that Mr. McGovern’s “understanding of children, his character, [and] his intelligence” are what ultimately won the board over in believing he would be able to take on the hefty new role.
“He was just so child-focused,” she said. “When you look at this position, it is a three-legged stool.”
Board Vice President Chris Tice agreed with Ms. Graves. “He was, head and shoulders, really just the right candidate,” she said.