Mam’k School Budget Cuts “Painful”- Newer K Proposal Gains Steam
Sixth grader Spencer Solomon addressed the Mamaroneck School Board and Superintendent Paul Fried Tuesday night at the second public hearing on the 2010-2011 school budget at
Mamaroneck High School. He was one of many members of the community to address the Board during the four hour meeting.
"We are worried because you may be cutting the opportunity to be in (the Hommocks) play from the budget," he said nervously as a group of Hommocks acting students stood behind him. "What’s next, music class?"
"This is why," responded School Board President Linnet Tse, "it is so painful for us to be before you…studies have shown these types of connections lead to academic success."
The Board is charged with reducing the school budget by about $7.5 million in order to achieve just under a 3% budget increase.
At the last meeting February 2, the most controversial proposal, or at least the most talked about, was the proposal to cut the Kindergarten curriculum down to five half-days at 3 of the 4 elementary schools in the District.
A new elementary school budget proposal, "Option E," seemed to be gain momentum Tuesday night. Option E would not reduce the Kindergarten schedule, now a hybrid of short and full days in all elementary schools except Mamaroneck Avenue, which has 5 full days. This option includes cutting 4 elementary teachers, 2 class and 2 contingency; an art teacher, after school academic support, and eliminates school trips, the Lincoln Center projects and certain testing and assessments for Grades 3-5. The total savings in "Option E" would be $1,051,460, according to Fried.
"This is obviously much less of an impact," said School Board member Anant Numbiar. "It’s a good alternative to what we were proposing last week."
A full day Kindergarten schedule was also acknowledged as "budget neutral," as compared with the current hybrid model, because additional staffing is not needed. The difference would be in the afternoon teacher student ratio, because each half the class stays a full day, two days a week.
The Superintendent again acknowleged almost all the proposed cuts, specifically the length of the Kindergarten day, are "the best of the worst," because, he said, one of the "givens in education" is that "greater instructional time equals greater achievement."
Proposed cuts in staff, including teachers, clerical and support across the District would be 52.3 with Elementary Option E and "Option A" at Hommocks Middle School and "Option B" at Mamaroneck High School.
The Board will convene a 3rd, previously unscheduled, public meeting on the Budget between now and the March 16 presentation of the Budget by the Superintendent.
Bravo to the 6th graders from The Hommocks who stood up and defended the importance of the arts in our schools. “What’s next, music class?” Sadly, those 6th graders don’t even realize that the general music program at The Hommocks has already been cut down to the bare minimum required by the state. A total of one semester (10-weeks) of general music over the course of grades 6, 7, 8 is all that is offered.
It is not true that Mamaroneck Ave School’s K’s schedule is budget neutral. In order to accommodate all students for a full day the classes are limited to 16 students. All of the other schools have classes from 20-23 students per class. The large #’s are balanced by the small groupings on the longer days’ afternoons. MAS’s K set up is designed to accommodate working parents and the additional needs of ESL students. The other school Kindergarten schedules are designed with the expectation that there will be a parent or other adult in the house on a nearly full-time basis.
I still support Option A–cutting full day kindergarten from Murray and Chatsworth students. It is absolutely not ideal, but it cuts $1.4 million dollars from the budget, and will not damage any of these kids educationally in the long run. Kindergarten teachers will be able to adjust the curriculum to this new schedule to work with kids. They will all be reading and writing by the middle of first grade. If you find it unfair that Mamk. Ave. School retains it, you aren’t acknowledging the differences in demographics and school body and the needs of those students. My guess is that many do not come into kindergarten having attended pre-schools that now cost thousands of dollars–where many Murray and Chatsworth kids learn basic letters, numbers, etc. Sometimes things shouldn’t be even-steven-they should address the different needs of the student body. So I support Option A because I think it will do the least harm to the students–and I think an option that cuts more teachers in the elementary schools, an art teacher and arts programs, after school help etc. and saves about $400,000 less dollars is just plain foolishness!
I totally disagree. To have kindergarten for a couple of hours a day is useless for everyone. Children that are five and six years old are absolutely ready and crave more school time then just nursery school hours. I think this would be a huge mistake.
Everyone will have to give up something.
I understand the difference in the demographics. I just think that everyone should have to get cut in some way. I hate to sound harsh but I wasn’t aware that our educational system is part of some wealth redistribution plan (I already pay income and property taxes thank you very much). I don’t think our kids should take it on the chin b/c some of the families here (that’s right – not everyone who lives in the Murray and Chatsworth schools is swimming in cash) can afford expensive private pre-schools. Every school should have to have cuts. If we’re so concerned about the at-risk kids (and there is more than economics that puts kids at-risk) let’s have an optional wrap program to supplement half-day kindergarten in ALL the schools with a sliding scale based on income. Also, remember that busing all the Chatsworth and Murray K’s who are in need of a full-day (there will be plenty of kids who need speech and OT, etc) to Central and MAS will be very expensive.
The district should explore the Princeton Plan in more depth. Our long term issues are not going away even if the teachers “come to the table”. More needs to be done to streamline the way we provide education in our district. Using our 50 year old model might no longer be appropriate. The population has changed, special-education has changed and the cost of education has increased dramatically. A Princeton plan would be an intelligent way to bring our community into the 21st century. First, it would provide educational parity across the district, something many feel does not currently exist. Secondly, it would save much more than the $1.4-$1.6 mm proposed. Option D did not include the cuts of 1 instructional coach, 5 special ed. aides and 5 special ed teaching assistants that were included in every other option. Why not? These cuts have a value of $408,000! And there are more savings to be had: if there were two K-2 schools and two 3-5 schools, perhaps two principals could be cut. (Keep one AP at each school and 1 Principal overseeing K-2 education and 3-5 education.) Our principalsâ€™ salaries and benefits press the $200k number. Hence, an additional $400k could be saved. Plus each principal has their own secretary, so another 2 clerical positions could be eliminated. Lastly, option D only listed the teachers cuts that would result…there was no accounting for the reduction in aides and assistants that would naturally occur with the reduction of 12-14 classrooms. Additional cuts in support staff could add another $200k to the savings in Option D. Grand total: $2.4-2.6mm, a million dollars more than the district presented. Let’s find out what the bussing costs will be and explore this option further.
Can we just say that our board of ed are ****, well at least we got that great new field. How bad could things be in that other school district that they would think the guy we got is a step up? Well at least we got that neato field. I mean who could of seen this economy coming? Oh yeah everybody but the board