Superintendent of Schools

Dr. Tonie McDonald; Superintendent of Schools

Dr. Tonie McDonald
Superintendent of Schools

E-Mail Dr. McDonald

August, 2021

Dear Members of our school community:

Even in these difficult times, the beginning of a new school year fills us with hope. New books, new pencils and new classrooms symbolize renewal, growth and excitement of what is to come.

This year, as we return fully to in person instruction, we look forward to seeing the happy faces of our children. Whether it be learning in the classroom, scoring a goal on the athletic field or performing on our stages, we hope that you and your children feel a connection to our schools.

It seems that every day we are confronted with uncertainty and doubt, but I continue to be reminded of a quote from Mr. Rogers, that has always provided me with a sense of calmness. He says, "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." The people who work in Levittown strive to always be the "helpers" for our school community. We hope that you will reach out to let us know how we can help our children succeed. Please refer to our School Calendar on page 8 for a list of our Department heads should you have questions or issues throughout the year.

Tonie McDonald, Ed. D.
Superintendent of Schools

March 11, 2020

The Levittown School District continues to monitor the developing situation related to the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). At this time, we have not been informed by the Health Department of any individuals in the Levittown School District who have tested positive for Coronavirus. Please keep in mind that this could change at any time.

The District continues to engage in prevention measures to reduce the chance of exposure, contingency planning in the event we learn of a local concern, and continuity planning in the event that there is an extended school closure.

We have received additional guidance from the New York State Education Department, indicating that if a confirmed case exists for a student or staff member, the school will close for 24-hours in order to provide time for deep cleaning and to determine if a longer closure is warranted. The guidance indicated that closure decisions will be made in collaboration with the Department of Health. Please know that if a school closing becomes necessary we will contact you through our automated communication system (Blackboard Connect).

Below you will find some of the proactive measures we are taking to address this situation:

Promoting proper hand washing and coughing protocols: All schools have reviewed proper hygiene protocols with students and continue to reinforce these protocols on a daily basis.

Evaluating large gatherings and field trips: This is being done on a daily basis with the most current information available. Decisions about trips and events are made on a case-by-case basis. Please check your with your school if you have any questions regarding postponing of events.

Cleaning and disinfecting of facilities: We will continue to clean and disinfect all buildings and buses on a nightly basis. In order to provide the appropriate time for this function, all school buildings will be closed at 6:00pm each night. We are working closely with our outside contractors (including our food service vendor and Universal Pre-Kindergarten providers) to ensure proper cleaning protocols are used.

Planning for continuity of instruction: The District has been working to plan and prepare for a variety of situations, including continuity of instruction in the event of an extended closure. Online resources are being prepared and will be available to students through our district website if a long term closure becomes necessary. Please let your child's teacher know if you are not able to access the internet from your home.

Absences: Students who are absent for medical reasons or due to a quarantine related to Coronavirus including those whose physician is recommending absence due to underlying medical reasons, will be marked "excused." Students who are absent by family choice due to a general concern about Coronavirus, with no primary exposure, as defined by the Department of Health (this is defined as a student who has come into close contact with a person who has tested positive for the coronavirus) will be marked "unexcused."

The District will continue to share information with our community as it becomes available. Please always refer to our website for the most up-to-date information about our schools. There is a lot of information circulating related to the coronavirus and I'd like to reiterate the importance of relying on credible sources of information. Our website has a Coronavirus Resources page which includes the latest information that we have on this situation.

Download the official letter.

March 7, 2020

To the Levittown Community:

As we continue to hear of cases of Coronavirus in Nassau County, we have had important communications about preparations we have taken and will continue to take while this virus is viable in our area. While the district has not been notified of any staff or student being diagnosed with this virus, each school has undergone a thorough cleaning this Friday following the guidelines of disinfecting recommended by the Center for Disease Control or CDC. We will continue this method of cleaning on a daily basis for the foreseeable future.

We are in constant contact with the Department of Health and our school Medical Director and are taking all recommended precautions to keep our schools clean and safe. We will continue to maintain close contact with the Nassau County Commissioner of Health and to communicate with you should our situation change. If you have questions about the Coronavirus, please continue to refer to the resources on our website, Coronavirus Resources. We will post information there as it becomes available to us.

If you have a specific question unrelated to school protocols, please contact The Department of Health at (888) 364-3065. This number is staffed until 8 pm each night, after which you may leave a message.

As always, the safety and security of our students and staff is our utmost priority. In these uncertain times, please know that we are here to support all members of our school community

Download the official letter.

February 28, 2020

Dear Parents/Guardians:

The recent media attention to the Coronavirus has generated quite a few questions in our school community. This morning, along with other Superintendents, I met with the Commissioner of Health for Nassau County, who was extremely willing to share with us the following current information about the Coronavirus:

  • The Commissioner characterized this virus as being akin to the common cold. It is preventable by adhering to the usual precautions for other illnesses, such as the flu. They are:
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with your hands.
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    • Stay home when you are sick.
    • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing. If you use a tissue, throw it in the trash.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
    • If you are able to do so, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • There have been no confirmed cases anywhere in New York State.
  • There have been 15 confirmed cases in the United States.
  • The incubation period for this illness is 14 days. As a result, US Citizens returning from China are quarantined for14 days from the day they left China under the auspices of the Department of Health. This information comes from US Department of State.
  • Currently, there are a number of people being monitored for the Coronavirus. None have presented with symptoms, however they are being monitored simply because they have traveled to China.

Should the Department of Health become aware of a child who has been exposed to the Coronavirus, they will notify our schools in the same manner as they do for other communicable illnesses, such as Whooping Cough. We will, in turn, expediently notify our families accordingly.

The Commissioner assured us that there is no reason for immediate concern in our area. As this situation evolves, please know that we will remain in close contact with the appropriate officials, follow any recommendations they issue, and keep you informed of any new developments. We are sharing the following resources should you require additional information:

Please know that we will continue to use our cleaning protocols in our buildings and buses. As we have stated before, we take special care during cold and flu season.

If you have further questions, the Commissioner of Health has suggested that we share this hotline number with you, which is staffed until 8 pm each night, after which a message can be left: (888) 364-3065.

Download the official letter.

August, 2019

Dear Students:

I certainly hope that you are enjoying your summer as much as I am enjoying mine. It's fun to stay up a little later and to be outside in the sunshine. I love to read, and the summertime gives me a little extra time to catch up on some exciting novels I have been putting aside all year!

I also hope that you are getting ready for what we know will be a great school year. Believe it or not, many of your teachers will be here this summer working on new ideas to bring to your classrooms. They are very excited to work with you both inside class and during extracurricular activities, including sports. Take advantage of the many opportunities you have at your school and don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it. We are here for you and want to help you achieve your goals at every level.

As September gets closer and closer, please think of the coming year as a fresh start, new pencils, new notebooks, new teachers and maybe even a new school. Be ready to do your best, because that's what we want for you.

Good luck! I look forward to seeing you at your school this year.

October, 2018

LEADD week is a time when we look to celebrate healthy choices and smart decisions, across our district. As the week progresses, you will receive information about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. At this time, please allow me to share some personal information with you. It is the story of two students - one a Dragon and one a General. I will be using fictitious names to protect their privacy. Both were good students. Both were involved in many activities. Both became addicted to drugs. One died.

John was a student of mine at Division. To say he was bright was an understatement. Whatever he set his mind to, he could do. He had a good family, he was popular and he was even nominated for homecoming king. He was a leader. He started drinking when he was still in High School and progressed to other drugs in college. I learned, just a few years ago, that he had become addicted to heroin. He was in and out of rehab. During one of his sober times he visited me and we talked for a long time. He looked well and it seemed like the fourth rehab would be the one that took.

Jennifer was a student at MacArthur. She went to school with one of my siblings. Like John, she was bright. She got a scholarship to a D1 school for athletics. Jennifer also began drinking in High School. She progressed to Marijuana, then Cocaine. In order to pay for her habit, she stole from her elementary school age nephews. She stole money from the piggy bank of an 8-year-old. Even so, she was quite functional. She landed a great job with a great company. She lasted a year before her job put her in rehab. She was so valuable to the organization that they sent her to a residential rehab facility, costing thousands of dollars. She relapsed. She was fired after she went to rehab a second time on the company's expense. She went a third time.

The third time did it for Jennifer. She has been in recovery for 23 years. She works at it every single day. Those of us who know her and care for her are proud of her. Although she is clean and sober, she has monumental gaps in her memory. She has been in therapy to repair some of the damage she did to herself and at one point had to make amends to her godson for stealing from him. It was a difficult moment for her family, but she was alive.

John did not make it. He overdosed a year and a half ago. Found with him were many letters of encouragement that he had received as he struggled to get hold of his addiction. Mine was among them. No matter how much his family and friends willed him to get better, ultimately heroin grabbed him by the throat and would not let go. Those letters were read at his funeral, filled with Division Avenue graduates who mourned his loss and who loved him dearly. They mourned for the loss of their friend who laughed with them, went on field trips with them and who, on graduation day, seemed to have the most promise for the life ahead.

Alcohol and other drugs affect everyone differently, but in every case, if you ingest drugs, you have given up control of your mind and your body. You think you can control it, but ultimately, it wins and it will change you.

One death to drug abuse is too much. If you are having a problem with addiction, PLEASE let us help. We have staff specially trained to work with you. You are special. You are loved. You are ours. Only your family cares about you more than we do. Just ask. We will be there.

August, 2018

I hope the summer months have provided everyone with some well-deserved relaxation and fun, as well as valuable time with loved ones. During these two months, the district has thoroughly been preparing for the exciting arrival of our students as they enter the first day of school on September 5. Administrators and faculty have used this period to reflect, collaborate, and strengthen their own professional skills, ready to welcome students with open arms with new ideas, lessons, and activities.

Our buildings and grounds department, guided by Mr. Christopher Milano, has worked diligently during the hot summer months to keep our schools in top shape for our incoming students. Thank you to all of our custodians and building staff for your hard work.

Although various educational and recreational programs took place during summer break to keep students engaged academically, mentally and physically, the schools were empty for most of the summer without the students' curiosity and laughter. I look forward to seeing the hallways filled with the smiling faces of our students once again in September, eager to take on the challenges of the new school year and the important lessons ahead.

As a district, you can expect some new changes this year as we have welcomed a number of bright new administrators and faculty members into the Levittown family. I am confident that their experience and insight will help our district grow. We will also continue to reinforce enhanced security in each building with the addition of new security cameras and the implementation of an ID system for visitors. Every visitor will be scanned through a database before gaining entry to our schools, and all secondary school students will be required to use a student ID to enter their building. Seniors who leave the building for lunch will be required to enter and exit through only one set of doors and will be required to use a student ID to reenter the building. With these changes, we continue to make the safety and security of our students and staff the highest priority and take it very seriously, to ensure a successful year.

As with each year, a new school year means new and exciting opportunities. From making new friends to mastering a subject, I wish each and every one of our students the best in the next chapter of their academic career. It's going to be a wonderful year!

February, 2018

Since my last communication with you, we have had an opportunity to meet with our internal stakeholders to discuss our security measures and protocols. I have also had many conversations, both in person, by email and on the phone with parents who have shared with me their thoughts on the alarming rise in school shootings in our country. Although I do not feel comfortable sharing all of our security protocols, I feel that I can share, without compromising the safety of our students and staff, some information about what we have done, continue to do and plan to do to enhance the safety of our students and staff. For more information, please see my Letter to the Community Regarding Our Security Measures.

February, 2018

The sad and tragic loss of young lives in Parkland, Florida has left us all numb. As this event continues to be discussed on the News and on social media, your children may look to you for information and guidance on how to react. Please feel free to use the resources below to help you as you talk with your child. Our hearts and prayers go out to those hurt, either physically or emotionally, by this senseless tragedy.

November, 2017

Dear Parent/Guardian:

We are experiencing one of the most disturbing trends we have seen in quite some time. Vaping, which was developed as a way to use tobacco without causing "secondary smoke," has become a vehicle not only for the active ingredients in tobacco, but for the active ingredients in a variety of drugs, including THC and opiates. Vaping, in addition to smoking, is a violation of our Code of Conduct and students caught vaping on school property are subject to discipline. The rise in detentions and suspensions as a result of this trend is troubling, as our students are losing valuable classroom time.

We are very troubled, as I am sure you are, about the uptick in the use of these devices and we will be focusing efforts, more than ever, to educate our students about the dangers associated with these devices. We hope that these efforts will lead to open discussion of this issue, which has plagued districts across Long Island and our nation.

If you believe your student is involved in vaping, smoking or any kind of drug use, kindly contact your school's social worker directly for help.

Tonie McDonald, Ed. D.
Superintendent of Schools

September, 2017

Our summer has drawn to a close, and we are at the beginning of a new school year. Everything's new, possibly even your school. I hope you take the time to get involved in clubs, sports and all of the wonderful and exciting things our district has to offer.

As the year begins, we will be working to collect items to bring to the people devastated by Hurricane Harvey. We hope that you will be involved in that initiative. We cannot control the weather, but we can help those who have been affected in such extraordinary ways. If you are interested, please inquire at your school about how you can help.

I look forward to seeing you at our schools.

Tonie McDonald, Ed. D.
Superintendent of Schools

Alliance To Save Public Education

School superintendents from Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties gathered in Rockville Centre to discuss Gov. Cuomo's proposed education reforms. They are pictured with a letter they recently drafted to legislators urging them to separate education reform from the state budget process.

I am proud to be among group of superintendents from Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties who gathered at South Side High School in Rockville Centre to discuss a legislative proposal to establish a special commission that would create a new teacher evaluation system.

We first came together in late February to draft and sign a letter that urged legislators to separate education reform from the state budget process. To date, the letter has 150 signatures, representing support from 13 percent of the school districts in New York State, which span a wide range of demographics - poor and wealthy, big and small, urban, rural and suburban, upstate and downstate. I am extremely proud that our Levittown Board of Education was the first Board to unanimously endorse this letter.

We are in favor of testing that values education and works for students, and believe that if the state is willing to create a commission to study the NYS teacher evaluation system, it should include relevant stakeholders as well as specialists in the field of education.

The letter drafted by the committee is linked here.