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Volume 23, No. 11

February 18, 2010 75¢

Chaos at Edna
Louise Spear?
Is departmentalization
at Port Jeff elementary
fracturing or fostering
the 4th and 5th grades?
About 10 parents at this month’s
meeting implored the Port Jefferson
school board to drop departmentaliza-
tion, calling the program chaotic and
counterproductive. The term refers to a
new program this year which has fourth-
and fift h-graders changing classrooms
on a daily basis to receive math and sci-
ence instruction from teachers with ad-
ditional accreditation or experience in
those academic areas.
Fifth-graders are “way too young” to
In its inaugural year, departmentalization at the Port Jefferson elementary school has caused a serious rift between some parents of young be walking from classroom to classroom
children and district administrators who championed the new program as a way of improving math and science learning. Caught in between during the school day, according to Darcel
is the school board, which is assessing the program and later this year expected to advise whether to continue or scrap the innovation. Weldon, the mother of a third-grader at
Photo by D. Willinger Edna Louise Spear Elementary School in
Port Jefferson. Along with about a dozen
other parents, Weldon pleaded with the
Fossil school board at its February meeting last
week to “discontinue departmentalization”
field trip in the elementary school. In addition to the
burden she believes it puts on the kids, the
Port Jefferson Middle School
policy of having students move from class-
sixth- and eighth-graders viewed
room to classroom to be taught by more
a dinosaur exhibition at Stony Brook
than one teacher also leaves teachers with a
University last week.
“fragmented vision of the kids,” according
They are accompanied by teacher
to Weldon, who called it a great disservice
Peter Burawa, second from left,
to deprive kids of “that great relationship”
and SBU professor and
with the elementary school teacher.
paleontologist David Krause, right.
Lisa Alter said her fifth-grade daughter
Photo by Jennifer Choi
was already counting the days until she
would be moving up to middle school, “a
sad statement,” she said. Alter proposed al-
Page A5 lowing parents to opt out of departmental-
ization, although it is unclear if such a dual-
Continued on page A10

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Page A3 online Inside this week
Where the North Shore clicks:

that departmentalization was conceived

School daze to “increase math time for all students.”
Continued from page A1 Zink said assessments of departmental-
ization would be presented to the board
track system could be implemented. at its March meeting and further discus-
What sets us apart from “I feel like this year for her has been
a waste,” Sheila Alterson said of her
sions based on those data would take
place among board members and with
other heating oil providers? fi ft h-grade daughter’s experience with
changng classrooms. Alterson said
parents and teachers.
As part of their review, board members
there is “no enrichment in fi ft h-grade would be looking for “the best way to deliv-

We’re always math — no homework.”

Another parent claimed that while de-
er increased math instruction,” Zink said.
One option that has been suggested

here for you.

partmentalization may function in other would be to have teachers move from room
districts, it is “a model we can’t possibly to room instead of the students.
implement in this school.” Zink said it was too early to speculate on
One speaker demanded “an audit of the when a decision might be reached, but she
children’s work in the classroom.” stressed the program has only been “fully
“Every teacher I have spoken to has in effect since October.”
hated departmentalization,” Dennis Superintendent Max Riley yesterday
Our neighbors have been counting on us for Marinino, another resident, said. All said testing results available in March
reliable heating oil service for over 75 years. fourth- and fift h-grade teachers were and other results to come in May would
That’s why we’re the company they know and trust for: emailed seeking comment this week, be used to evaluate the program and
which is winter vacation week, but none therefore there is “not any possibility”
• Local customer service, 24/7, all year long
responded in time for deadline. departmentalization would be discon-
• Never running out of oil, which means you won’t either When parent Drew Biondi came up to tinued during the current schoolyear.
• Price protection and payment plans the lectern to speak he turned to the 80 or The vocal opponents represent only
with no enrollment or sign-up fees so persons in attendance and asked for a about 13 percent of the 350 to 400 parents
• Multiple service plan options show of hands. No hands were observed with children in the grades affected by the
raised in support of departmentalization. program, Riley said. He said he believes
Switch to Meenan today! “No one can speak for departmentaliza- that minority is “suspicious of this chanage
tion,” Biondi said. in math” instruction for a variety of rea-
But School Board President Stacey sons but is united by a common dislike of
Zink told The Port Times Record this having their children change classrooms.
866.539.4438 week, “There are parents out there who “If we had overhelming opposition, we
support it.” What about those parents would have to reconsider,” Riley said. who spoke against departmentalization It was not known if other Long Island
at the February board meeting? Do they school districts use a similar program.
*Restrictions, terms and conditions may apply. represent the majority view or are they a When asked about departmentalization,
Nassau Lic. No. H2401470000. Suffolk Lic. No. 45828-MP, 45831-RE. ©2010 Meenan. WT_10015
103036 vocal minority? Zink said, “People that Smithtown Schools Superintendent Ed
are opposed to something are usually Ehmann said his district does not “sub-
the loudest.” scribe” to it. “I don’t want to criticize Port
Presenting BOE member Mark Doyle reminded all Jefferson for doing it,” Ehmann said, but
Port Jefferso
Official 20


those parents, residents and teachers in at- stressed his belief “that the teacher should
2010 Walking Mapn tendance that the majority of board mem-
bers have a child in fourth or fifth grade
be trained in all subject areas.”
Ehmann said he recognizes that in the
A Village Fo


r Port
r All Season
and Times Jefferson Chambe
Beacon Re
r of
cord News Commerce
themselves, but he was shouted down by
a man in the audience who disputed that
face of demands for ever-higher achieve-
ment, departmentalization “guarantees
assertion. For the record, four out of seven students get math and science every
Walking Map Port Jefferson BOE members have a child
in fourth or fifth grade.
day.” But the Smithtown superintendent
said he is aiming instead for a total inter-
“A Village For All Seasons” Get Co-sponso
The Bridgep by:
Port Jeffers ort–
on Ferry
At the meeting BOE president Zink
said the board is reviewing reports on
disciplinary approach.
Which philosophy is better? When
The exclusive official map of Your Business departmentalization but board members it comes down to it, “It’s the teacher
the Greater Port Jefferson On The Map! “have not made a decision to end this that means more than anything else,”
Chamber of Commerce. program.” This week Zink emphasized Ehmann said.
for Memorial Day distribution. District comments on departmentalization
✔ Presented as a “Vacation Fun Map” with colorful renderings of all the build-
ings and sites in our historic harborside Village, in a portable format. It will
be available in all participating stores in the Village, as well as high traffic
Reactions to departmentalization collected by the district
in December offer a wide range of opinion.

locations. 4th and 5th graders Teachers

✔ Theme will be relaxed and informal, to induce leisurely strolls and spending
freely by those visiting Port Jefferson. It will have year-round distribution,
replenished weekly.
The students themselves reacted as
might be expected of young children
when it comes to a particular school
policy. Comments by students affected
From a reading of teacher com-
ments, some educators doubt the
structure is appropriate for children
in those grades. Others point out the

✔ Advertising surrounds the map itself, in full color, to make your business
stand out and easy to find. Ads will also be keyed to the building locations
on the map. We will provide posters for store windows to draw traffic in
from the street to obtain the maps and provide countertop containers to
by departmentalization include:
Day goes faster
I think it’s a waste of time
Having one teacher for three
need for additional storage space for
student belongings while voicing con-
cern about how departmentalization
impacts special education students.
display them. periods is too boring Other teacher comments include:

Changing teachers gets confusing Double periods are too long
The reverse side will offer valuable information about the Village, includ- We have more homework Harder to integrate instructional
ing dining, entertainment, transportation, cultural events, festivals and Why is there less homework? content with separate subject classes
more ... a resource for visitors to keep for return visits! Backpacks easier Homeroom at end of day is a
Hard bringing backpack waste of time
Deadline: March 9, 2010 Sometimes don’t like sharing desk Structure is not age appropriate.

Fifth grade only

Call (631) 751–7744 to reserve your space now!