New Initiatives at South Country

BHS English Teacher Mr. Uhrie, starts off the school year. (LI Advance)
BHS English Teacher Mr. Uhrie, starts off the school year. (LI Advance)

Initiatives for the South Country School District’s school term include new technology like Chrome Books and farming at the High School. According to Superintendent Dr. Joseph Giani, the district received funding through the Smart Schools Bond Act, approved by voters in November 2014. Giani said funding would be authorized for purchases through a board of education plan.

“With respect to financing, the first phase of the BOE-approved plan calls for $3,613,250 in estimated expenses,” he said. “The district will be purchasing and deploying Chrome Books to several grade levels, replacing all desktop computers, installing interactive whiteboards and SMART Tables, replacing all network switches, routers, upgrading servers, replacing security equipment, and cabling district-wide.”  Instructional technology is in the mix with the roll out of the Smart Bond plan. Giani said he is most looking forward to expanding the programs at the Family Engagement Center, which most recently opened this April.

Bellport High School Principal Timothy Hogan said over the summer, the high school graduated an additional 18 students, underwent some minor renovations including work to the main office and business department, as well as the addition of a new testing room and area for the 8:1:3 autism program.  About five students, who started in kindergarten, just made their way to the high school this year as the first 8:1:3 autism class. The program aids up to eight students in a classroom with one teacher and three teaching assistants (8:1:3).

Also this year, Hogan said, students in special education, life skills and career technical education, as well as students from the autistic and culinary programs, are looking forward to continuing the farm-to-table program, which began last spring, when students were invited to farm a plot of land at Isabella Rossellini’s organic farm nearby. Students were able to plant crops and use them in the classroom.  “We are also building a greenhouse in our atrium to plant seedlings to start here and bring over there,” said Hogan with enthusiasm.

This will also be the first full school year off the state’s list as a focus school; the district was required to develop and submit improvement plans. Since January, the High School has had graduation requirements removed from the list and placed in good standing. The school, Hogan said, had been on that list since 2010. 

(reprinted from LI Advance 9/8/16)