Category Archives: Education

School Board Shuffle

This year’s school elections proved to be a big one for the challengers in Levittown, with nearly every seat contested in each of the two local school districts.

In the Island Trees Union Free School District, a last-minute endorsement from the teacher’s union paired with an outspoken campaign, helped net the trio of Brian Fielding, Paul Giambona and Michael Rich three seats on the Board of Education.

“I was excited that so many people came out,” Fielding said. “It shows that when change is needed a small community can stand together.”

This story originally appeared in the May 28, 2014 edition of the Levittown Tribune.

New Superintendent Is A Familiar Face

After a four-month search for candidates suitable to replace Dr. James Grossane as Superintendent of the Levittown Public School District, members of the Levittown Board of Education have appointed Dr. Tonie McDonald to the position, effective July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2017.

For McDonald, who is currently assistant superintendent of business and finance in the nearby Plainedge Union Free School District, the appointment was a warm welcome home to the Levittown School District, where she had previously worked as both an administrator and as a teacher for more than 10 years.

“I couldn’t be happier,” McDonald said of her return to Levittown. “There are so many amazing people who live and work there.”

This story originally appeared in the May 14, 2014 edition of the Levittown Tribune.

Levittown Welcomes School For Autism

The ELIJA school for autistic children has just settled into its new home, after signing a three-year lease to rent out the 13-room Laurel Lane primary school in Levittown. On World Autism Awareness Day, April 2, ELIJA school stakeholders gathered with county, town and school officials for the ceremonial ribbon-cutting event.

“This is a fantastic use of the property,” said Hempstead Town Councilman Gary Hudes. “It involves and helps people in the community.”

ELIJA—which stands for Empowering Long Island’s Journey Through Autism—is a not-for-profit organization that was founded by two parents in the spring of 2002 and uses applied behavior analysis to keep educational programs effective, exciting, enjoyable, for children with autistic spectrum disorders.

This story originally appeared in the April 10, 2014 edition of the Levittown Tribune.

Superintendent Addresses Opt Out

This week, the Levittown Public Schools will administer the New York State ELA and Mathematics assessments to students in grades 3-8. However, due to growing concerns from parents planning to have their children “opt out” of the examinations, Levittown Schools Superintendent Dr. James Grossane sent a letter to inform parents how the district will handle students refusing to take the standardized tests.

In his letter, Grossane stresses that parents who do not want their children to take the state assessments must notify the district beforehand.

“If there is prior parental notification of their request that the child not participate in the state assessment program, the child will be placed in an alternate testing location,” Grossane said.

This story originally appeared in the April 2, 2014 edition of the Levittown Tribune.

Parents Rally Over Island Trees Coach

Parents in the Island Trees School District are up in arms after learning the district terminated Coach Michael Bonsignore. Many parents wondered what motivated the board to let go of a coach who had vastly improved the football program and led a scholar-athlete team this year.

According to Michael’s father, Carl Bonsignore, the Island Trees Superintendent, Dr. Charles Murphy, and Athletic Director Dr. James Kramer met with Michael and a union representative over the holiday break to inform him that the district “had decided to go in a different direction.”

“They owe it to the people of this community to give an explanation,” said Carl Bonsignore, 62. “Quite frankly, I’m disgusted by this.”

This story originally appeared in the Jan. 29, 2014 edition of the Levittown Tribune

Grossane Announces Resignation

A surprising non-agenda item left parents gasping in shock, as Levittown Schools Superintendent Dr. James Grossane announced his resignation from the school district, effective June 30, 2014, the same day his three-year contract is set to expire.

Prior to his tenure as the superintendent of the Levittown Public Schools, Grossane served as assistant superintendent for support services in the Massapequa school district. Before that he served as the principal of Massapequa High School.

Grossane was hired to serve the role as superintendent of schools by the Levittown Public School District in 2011, at an annual salary of $225,000. He would go on to succeed former Superintendent Dr. Herman Sirois.

“I am very proud of all the success we have achieved,” Grossane said, announcing his resignation. “I assure parents I am thoroughly committed to serving as your superintendent for the remainder of the school year.”

This story originally appeared in the Jan. 24, 2014, edition of the Levittown Tribune.

Farmingdale Parents Talk Opt Out

Since 2011, when the New York State Education Department adopted the Common Core Learning Standards, public school districts around the state are required to test students, grades 3-8, on a new wave of English Language Arts and

Mathematics assessments. However, with approximately 30 percent of all students in the state passing at or above proficiency, the new curriculum has parents and educators outraged over the results.

This story originally appeared in the Nov. 20, 2013 edition of the Farmingdale Observer.

Harrison Schools Weather New ELAs



The results are in and students enrolled in the Harrison Central School District—like most students in New York State—saw test scores plummet when faced with the newly implemented state English Language Arts and Mathematics exams.

Based on the results, the average grades for Harrison school district students taking the exam in 2013 were substantially lower than the English Language Arts and Mathematics exams taken the year before. Of the more than 3,000 Harrison students given the exam this year, students in each of the six tested grade groups, averaged in the low-300 point range out of 425 achievable points.

Part of the state’s Common Core learning standards, which were first adopted by the Board of Regents in 2010, the results of the new ELA and Mathematics exams are intended to assess students, grades three through eight, on the knowledge and skills they must achieve within each grade to better prepare themselves for college and careers.

This story originally appeared in the Harrison Review on Aug. 22, 2013. 

Voters approve $108M school budget

Voters in the Harrison Central School District passed its $108 million budget with 71 percent of all votes cast on May 21. As a result, tax bills will increase by 3.7 percent next year.

The 2013-2014 budget comes with no reduction to class size and no program cuts, but necessitates minimal layoffs to come in under the state-mandated 2 percent tax levy cap. According to unofficial tallies, 1,385 residents voted “yes” and 553 voted against the budget.

“We have consistently tried to meet our dual commitment of providing a comprehensive education while being responsible to our taxpayers,” Schools Superintendent Louis Wool said on Wednesday regarding the results. “The Board of Education would like to thank our residents, and express our profound appreciation for the support of our students that came from every corner and neighborhood of the community.”

The spending plan marks the second time in history that the budget passed in the polls of each of the four voting districts in Harrison.

After a series of reductions totaling more than $2.25 million, the district approved a $3.79 million increase in spending from last year for a budget-to-budget increase of 3.6 percent. Reductions included decreases in certiorari and capital budget lines, decreases in social security, unemployment, contractual services, the cost of fuel and several other cuts for smaller budget line items.

By eliminating vacant positions through attrition and through the implementation of a teacher retirement incentive, the district was able to minimize the need for layoffs in the budget, with plans to cut only one to two positions.

First appeared in the May 24, 2013 edition of The Harrison Report.

District Concerned With High Stakes Curriculum

Assistant Superintendent Michael Greenfield explains some of the processes Harrison Central School District underwent to adhere to new state standards. Photo/Daniel Offner

Assistant Superintendent Michael Greenfield explains some of the processes Harrison Central School District underwent to adhere to new state standards. Photo/Daniel Offner

Harrison students in grades 3-8 are breathing easy after completing the newly implemented state English Language Arts and Mathematics exams this past month. But for administrators and faculty within the public school district, the pressure is on as the state Department of Education finalizes its assessments of the Common Core curriculum.

First adopted by the Board of Regents in 2010, the Common Core Learning Standards are designed to create a baseline to assess the knowledge and skills students must achieve within each grade to better prepare themselves for college and careers. The standards have been adopted in 45 states, the District of Columbia, four U.S. territories, and are the current standard used by the Department of Defense Education Activity, a federal program that provides education overseas in Europe and the Pacific regions as well as domestically.

This story originally appeared in the May 10, 2013 edition of the Harrison Report. 

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