Days in, days out

Sullivan West plans for a new year

Posted 9/2/20

LAKE HUNTINGTON, NY — Neither rain nor hail nor the threat of tornadoes could stop the Sullivan West Central School District from conducting their first in-person Board of Education (BOE) …

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Days in, days out

Sullivan West plans for a new year


LAKE HUNTINGTON, NY — Neither rain nor hail nor the threat of tornadoes could stop the Sullivan West Central School District from conducting their first in-person Board of Education (BOE) meeting of the 2020-2021 school year.

Despite “the gloom of night’ and a rather dire weather forecast in this time of a pandemic, the local school district’s BOE convened in the high school auditorium on Thursday, August 27 to vote on various items on the agenda.

Visitors to the school were checked in at the entrance and were asked to fill out a short form regarding their potential exposure to the virus and reminded to wear face coverings and adhere to social distancing protocols while in the building.

While public BOE meetings are normally held in the high school library, last Thursday it was called to order in the more spacious auditorium due to the ongoing pandemic. 

The BOE members were socially distanced at several widely spaced tables on the stage and wirelessly connected into the auditorium’s sound system. The mics proved a bit troublesome, which made listening to the reports rather difficult for the small number of attendees from the public at large.

This school year, Rose Joyce-Turner (president), Lucas Arzilli (vice president), Stephen A. Walker (superintendent of schools), Christina Kautz (district clerk/secretary to the superintendent), and members Katrina E. Chellis, Ken Cohen, Juliete L. Gaebel, Kathleen Meckle, Jennifer Nystrom, Trevor Peachey (see following notation) and Annette Rasmussen make up the BOE.

The BOE later voted to accept Peachey’s resignation.

The BOE approved a revised code of conduct that, in the words of Superintendent of Schools Stephen A. Walker, “made some significant changes” due to the pandemic.

The board unanimously approved the resolution to confirm tax rolls and authorized the 2020-21 levy in the amount of $18,383,234 for the district (less the amount to be provided separately through the STAR Program, and $934,428 for the Western Sullivan Library).

Lorraine Poston, board member and assistant superintendent for administrative services, provided an update on the district-wide safety plan (SAVE), which went into effect in October 2010 and was revised in July 2020.

Sullivan West approved a district-wide school safety team, and the overall safety plan is linked to individual building-level emergency response plans that include, but are not limited to, restricting access to all buildings, video monitoring, the issuance of visitor passes and photo IDs for all staff members.

It also addresses risk prevention, multi-hazard responses and the duties of the district’s Emergency Response Team (ERT).

Dr. Kathleen Bressler, Asst. Superintendent for Instructional Services reported that as of Monday, August 3 (document to the BOE dated 8-19-20), the SWCSD has a total enrollment of 1122 students (550 in the elementary school, 468 in the high school, the remainder in other locations). 

Following superintendent Walker’s administrative report, he presented an “Outstanding Certificate” to Bulldogs graduate Maggie Herbert, which read, “Congratulations on your outstanding academic performance as top of the Career and Technical Education Class of 2020.” 

As the 18-year-old recipient was currently studying equine science at SUNY Morrisville, the award was accepted by her grandmother, Kathy, her mother, Katie, her 11-year-old sister, Ella and her dad, Joe.

Afterward, Walker said of Maggie, “What a tremendous representative of our Sullivan West community, a young lady who was an athlete, a top achieving student in our technical program, and in fact the top achieving student in the entire equine studies program at BOCES.”

“She is a terrific, well-rounded and engaged person in the community, and it was a privilege to have known her the last couple of years.”

On personnel matters of note, the board accepted the resignations of Shannon Henke, Carol Kinney, Linda Immoor, Laurie Henry and Caitlin Logan; granted leaves of absence to Trina Kloss, Denise Yewchuck and Linda Hubert; and appointed leave replacements to Brandy Snedeker, Delphine Hoch and Kari Hughson.

Near the close of the meeting, Walker welcomed several new hires to the district, most of whom were in attendance: Amy Gonzalez, instrumental teacher, elementary school; Lizzy Hannold, part-time physical education, elementary school; Vanessa Kosteczko, special education teacher, high school; Skylar Musa, physical education teacher, high school; Josh Martell, English teacher, high school; Sharon McKay, English teacher, high school; Linnea Schumacher, physical education teacher (transfer from Jeff Elementary), high school; Natalie Sauer, art; and Kristina Verrico, music (transfer from Jeff Elementary). 

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the SWCSD BOE will be on Thursday, September 17 at 7p.m. Call 845/482-4610 ext. 3000 for up-to-date information.

For more details about Sullivan West’s reopening, read the interview with principal Mark Plescia and superintendent of schools Stephen Walker online at

sullivan west, school district, board of education, 2020, school year, covid-19,


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