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Raises for Teachers, Kudos for Kids in Springs

Thu, 06/13/2024 - 16:55
Springs students were recognized at Tuesday's board meeting for academic, athletic, and extracurricular activities.
Carissa Katz

Months of contract negotiations between Springs School officials and the district's teachers union resulted Tuesday in the approval of a one-year contract extension that will give teachers a 3-percent pay raise in the school year ahead.

The raise will have a total impact of about $80,000 on next year's school budget, "which was built into the budget projections," according to Nancy Carney, the incoming superintendent.

The Springs Teachers Association's current five-year contract expires June 30. The one-year "memorandum of agreement" buys school officials time to negotiate a longer-term contract.

"We will be negotiating with the Springs Teachers Association, and indeed some of our other units, to get the best possible outcome for our taxpayers and our students as we can," Ms. Carney said by email yesterday. "We are mindful that our employees need to make fair wages, and when we negotiate, we seek to ensure that all sides are well served by the agreement."

Also on Tuesday, the school's PTA announced that last weekend's Mystery Art Sale raised $17,000 to support arts programs.

Leah Moliterno, the artists' liaison, and Casey Dalene, who chaired the event, had a long list of thank-yous, including to the professional artists who collectively donated more than 200 works; the 650 students who also created pieces for the sale; Laura Marino and Meghan Bock, the art teachers; S&S Corner Shop, Telemark Construction, which donated wood for display boards; Ocean Graphics, which provided signs; the Springs Improvement Society for donating the use of Ashawagh Hall, and the Golden Eagle for donating an auction prize. Ms. Dalene also thanked Nancy Rowan from Golden Eagle, who was one of the original Mystery Art Sale founders.

"I think the strength of the sale is a real testament of the art history of Springs and our really strong art community in Springs," Ms. Dalene said. "The people that came and shopped the sale and bought work were not only involved in the school — parents, families — but also year-round residents of the community that do not have children in the school or do not work at the school, which was lovely to see, as well as seasonal residents."

"I think we saw, on a larger, broader scheme," Ms. Dalene continued, "that with the budget vote going through, and the success of events like this, that the Springs community is really behind us."

Jane Portman, the PTA president, summed up the group's activities this school year by delivering the overall fund-raising results of $150,000 to directly benefit the students. "I can't believe it was almost a year ago we were meeting in August and introducing ourselves to each other. I think that what we accomplished this year in partnership together has been immense."

There were lots more kudos to go around. Two students placed in a poster contest held by the New York Association For Pupil Transportation. Jessica Cruz's poster earned her first place in Suffolk County and second place in the state, while Jiancarlo Restrepo finished in second place in Suffolk. Their colorful artwork depicted the theme "driving safely into the future."

Ariel Ruggiero's poem, "Dense Air," earned her an honorable mention in the Walt Whitman Birthplace Association Student Poetry Contest.

The results of the annual eighth-grade speech contest were announced. With a piece titled "Factory Farming," Danett Gonzalez-Alcala earned first place. Liam Beckert's "Mental Health and Gun Violence" speech earned second place, and Alexa Shaffer took third with "The Gender Pay Gap in Professional Sports."

Gabriella Alvarado and Ross Comly Bolick are this year's Springs valedictorians. Danett and Cadence Page, are the salutatorians.

Three athletes were recognized for their contributions to varsity teams at East Hampton High School this year: Jasper Samuelson, Watts Comly, and Lilly Wood. The community also celebrated the achievements of its Special Olympics athletes, who excelled in sports such as bowling, winter snowshoeing, and track and field: Cameron Megginson, Charlie Feyh, Hudson McLear, Benji Vivas, Matthew Chuqui Guerrero, and Tyler Villa.

Ilaine Bickley, an elementary school teacher who was hired in 1998 after a career change, is retiring, and was celebrated on Tuesday night. "She helped where we needed her the most," said Debra Winter, the outgoing superintendent. "Her real skill has been in math . . . she has inspired many teachers to go into math [academic intervention services] or to consider math teaching. . . . She is a fierce advocate for her students, always supporting them to succeed. . . . We are going to miss her."

Barbara Dayton, whose term on the school board is up on June 30, ending a nine-year tenure, was lauded as well. "We want to congratulate you and thank you for your years of service -- three terms through some very trying times," said Bob Vecchio of the Nassau-Suffolk School Boards Association. "Anybody who has served on a board knows that it is the most frustrating, sometimes annoying, time-consuming, most rewarding position you'll ever have."

State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele was honored for his support of education, and particularly of the Springs School, over the years. He was presented with a handmade gift from the Robotics Club. "From the bottom of my heart, thank you," Ms. Winter said. "You made such a huge difference."

After seven years at Springs, Ms. Winter herself is also retiring, but her support of students will continue: She has accepted a judging role with First Robotics, a program she helped the school to grow by advocating for its funding. "We could tell that Deb was someone who had a lot of gumption, a lot of drive, and wasn't afraid to ask for things. We knew she would be an asset to our school," Ms. Dayton said. "She has never shied away from any request. She has been an incredibly strong advocate for our children at the school, within the community and outside of the community . . . Her kindness and her real love of education and kids comes through to everybody."

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