Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Parents Speak Out On Potential School Budget Cuts: Superintendent Floats the Idea of School Closing

Pat Charles indicated that the district faces the potential closing an elementary school to meet the needs of budget cuts to the Board of Ed budget presented by the mayor.

"I can't get to the $700,000 number without drastic cuts.," Charles said.  "I've asked Milone and McBroom to study which school would make most sense to cut to achieve savings of between $475,000 and $500,000."

Charles noted that Macdonough is the smallest school with the oldest physical plant, but that it is used more than other as a community school, and if closed, because no children ride buses to Macdonough, transportation costs would be large.

Addressing potential cuts, Assistant Superintendent Enza Macri spoke about the academic effects of those cuts.

"We will lose ground. This is going to be very catastrophic for our district," Macri said.  "You will see a downward academic shift."

"I don't know how we can cut anymore," board member Marilyn Dunkley said.

Board Votes to Notify Fifteen Teachers of Non-renewal

At the end of the meeting the superintendent requested a motion to non-renew fifteen teachers.  After calling for the motion she read each of the names of the non-tenured teachers.

"It's a horrible situation to meet with the best, the brightest, the youngest, the most enthusiastic teachers and tell them they will not be invited back," Charles said.

Chris Drake made a motion to notify the fifteen teachers.

Charles explained that early notification was the most humane method, allowing teachers to pursue positions in other districts.

In a vote, the motion failed in a four to four vote (Drake, Daniels, Loffredo, McClellan for/Dunkley, Szynkowicz, Cain, Dempsey-White), and a second vote to reconsider was made by board member Deborah Cain.  Before the second unanimous vote, both Dunkley and Szynkowicz indicated that their original vote had been in principal to protest the layoffs before the budget was finalized by the Common Council.

If the Common Council restores funding, some of the teachers may be called back to teaching duty.

Parents protest potential cuts

Lacrosse student plead for funds to advance their sport.

More than 20 parents and students stood and spoke out against potential school budget cuts proposed by the Mayor in his budget.

Many of the parents and students attending the meeting stood in support of boy and girls lacrosse at the high school which is potentially on the chopping block if support from the city forces the Board of Education to drop support in making lacrosse a varsity sport.

Dan Reynolds, a father of three sons involved in lacrosse explained that his father first came to Middletown to attend Wesleyan and that his father had graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School.  Reynolds himself was raised in Buffalo, but returned to town and has been a resident for 20 years.

Reynolds explained that the rise of lacrosse in town defies expectations.

Dan Reynolds defends lacrosse.
"You can't do what you've done in just five years in this town,"  Reynolds said.  "Lacrosse is the fastest growing sport in the country, and you can't take this from the kids and volunteers who have built it."

Members of the girls lacrosse team spoke with passion about the sport, and how it transformed their lives. Some of the young woman spoke with unsteady voices, wiping tears.

Several other parents and students addressed the potential cuts the Board of Education is facing in the proposed mayor's budget.

Emma Kaskel, a Bielfield student, implored the Board to work hard to get the needed funding.

"Talk to the mayor and try to get more money for our schools," Emma Kaskel implored.

Emma Kaskel addresses the board.
Emma's dad, Brian Kaskel, a longtime supporter of appropriate funding in the district asked board members to fight for the budget.

"You are Dr. Charles' boss, and Dr. Charles needs your help," Kaskel said.  "If you trust Dr. Charles, then this is what we need."

Moody parent Carolyn Maye addressed the issue of overcrowding at schools if 17 teachers are laid off as is expected if the budget is not increased.

She explained that as of the end of March there are 2329 students in Middletown elementary schools and that if teachers are laid off classroom averages can move from 18 to 22 students in the elementary classes.

Several teaches also spoke in favor of an increased budget, including three teachers who are among the seventeen who face potential layoffs.

Rebecca Sutay, a 2nd grade teacher at Bielfield fought off tears as she explained how important small class size is.
Bielfield second grade teacher Rebecca Sutay addresses cuts.

"It's the only way students get the one to one attention that they need," Sutay said.

Stephanie Atkins, another at-risk second grade Bielfield teacher spoke of the recent accomplishments at the school which were due to smaller class sizes.

"We are off the focus group list and that is a great accomplishment," Atkins said.

In addition, members of the Kids Connection group spoke in favor of small class sizes and funding for their program.

"Without the small class sizes, the kids won't get the attention they need to succeed," Reverend Lucille Clay said.

Reverend Lucille Clay and the Kids Connection.
Parents vowed to attend Thursday's Common Council community meeting at Council Chambers in City Hall at 7PM to urge council members to restore funding to the school budget.


Anonymous said...

The Mayor is giving himself a raise, his assistant a $15k raise, and treasurer $4k. Why not give that money to education?

Lisa Reeve said...

As always coruuption runs deep in Middletown. The ony difference now is that your doing it at the sacrifce of the children of the community! Shame to those that took raises instead of putting that money to the education of our children!!

Anonymous said...

I find it amusing that double d (aka boy mayor) has been spreading inaccurate information about the BOE budget on social media for over a month. But when the BOE tries to take a page out of his playbook and provide information about the city budget he whines that the information the BOE presents is wrong. Wha wha wah. Sauce for the goose duplicitous dan.