Under soggy skies and amidst hugs and lots of picture taking, students headed off to the first day at the Riverhead Central School District on Wednesday -- and Superintendent Nancy Carney said the kickoff to the 20102-2013 school year went off without a hitch.
"This was one of the best openings in my tenure here in the district," Carney said.
Carney added that there were some expected delays in transportation, since bus drivers and staff always take extra time to be meet each student and be sure the child is on the correct bus. Any "kinks" in transportation will be worked out during the first week, Carney said.
Plus, she said, the district understands that parents enjoy taking photos of their kids' first day of school.
With the new school year ahead, Carney outlined "some exciting, new changes" to district's programs, including that the district-wide K-7 English language arts program has been aligned with the newly adopted common core state standards.
In addition, a new math program in third and fourth grades, enVision Math, has been implemented; the course is aligned with the common core state standards.
With an eye toward reviving the art of penmanship, the district also recently adopted a that teaches grammar and handwriting.
The program was adopted with an eye toward stengthening grammar skills and teaching fundamentals consistently in every classroom -- critical, now that writing skills are strongly emphasized under the common core standards, Carney said.
The district is also planning for new high school common core Regents standards, which will be in place during the next school year.
Carney also outlined work that is ongoing regarding the district's bond-funded plan. In August, a groundbreaking took place at the Phillips Avenue Elementary School, kicking off the first stages of construction.
Work at Phillips Avenue includes a new bus loop and new parking areas. The library is being reconstructed and expanded and is expected to be ready for students by the end of October; a new roof and new drainage systems will also be built.
Meanwhile, at the Aquebogue Elementary School, state permits were received two weeks ago; work is expected to begin in October on an expanded kitchen, increased parking area, and some reconfigured classrooms.
With approval expected in approximately three weeks for the Riley Avenue project, a temporary bus loop has been created to allow expansion work to proceed while school is in session. "In all we do, we are putting site safety first and ensuring that teaching and learning will continue uninterrupted by the construction process," Carney said.
Plans for the high school are slated to be submitted around October 1, with plans for the middle school to be sent to the state by approximately December 1 for review.
By next spring, work should be ongoing at all five buildings, with work at Roanoke and Pulaski expected to begin in the summer of 2014.
Finally, at the middle school, new elevators make the building handicapped accessible; additional doors were installed at the front entrance for increased fire safety.
At last week's school board meeting, Carney also thanked Riverhead Town for their cooperation and assistance in facilitating new sidewalks in front of the Pulaski Street School; a move that is not only aesthetically pleasing but also will help to improve safety for all.
"This is both an exciting and a challenging time for the Riverhead School District. It is a time of transformation for both our facilities and for improved student achievement for all students," Carney said. "I am confident that as we work together with our students’ success at the heart of all our decisions and actions we will achieve greatness as a district. I’m looking forward to the years ahead as we work together to accomplish our goals.”