2018 Nassau BOCES Education Partner Award Honoree
Dr. Ralph P. Ferrie
Dr. Ralph P. Ferrie took the helm of the Sewanhaka CHSD amidst a host of major challenges. New York State had just imposed a new tax cap on school budgets while reducing state aid. The Gap Elimination Adjustment had just been enacted in an attempt to help close the state’s budget deficit by dividing the funding shortfall among school districts, further reducing state aid. The new Common Core was introduced, requiring significant changes to curriculum and instruction with no additional resources to support these changes.
Dr. Ferrie met these challenges head on and was able to not only maintain the Sewanhaka Central High School District, but to improve it. He successfully passed an $86 million bond, bringing desperately needed improvements to all five high schools. At that same time, he passed an $18 million energy performance referendum, effecting essential upgrades, renovations and additions across the District. Among the most significant achievements of this referendum was the installation of a solar energy system on the roof of each of the five buildings, generating approximately 30% of the District’s electricity resulting in significant savings for many years to come.
Dr. Ferrie has devoted equal effort to improving curriculum and instruction, implementing several initiatives to deliver more rigorous instruction, enabling more students to take advanced classes and placing more students on the path to an advanced regents diploma.
One major initiative that Dr. Ferrie has launched is the Cultural Proficiency Program, which he describes as a journey toward becoming a culturally responsive school district. One of the first steps on this journey was for the Sewanhaka CHSD to become a founding member of the Long Island Consortium for Equity and Honorees Excellence, which offers professional development training on equity, diversity and cultural responsiveness. The District’s initiative includes several other vital components, such as co-teaching for students with disabilities, the integrated advanced program for all students in grades 7 and 8, increase in multi-lingual resources for students, and the expansion of extracurricular offerings designed to promote better understanding of the various cultures within the District.
“Here in Sewanhaka, it all focuses on the students,” Dr. Ferrie stated. “We work to ensure that all students have equal access to high-level programs and outstanding facilities. It enables our students to become successful at the college level or in whatever they choose to pursue after graduation.”