There will be no Princeton Plan in East Rockaway.
That news, revealed almost one hour into Wednesday night’s board of education meeting, elicited a collective exhale from residents in the jam-packed auditorium. However, the board stressed that, while many in attendance heard what they wanted, the rejection of the plan should not be treated as good news for the district.
The budget, hampered by the state’s new tax levy limit, would not be able to support Superintendent Dr. Roseanne Melucci’s “instructional vision” of the plan. Because of this, Melucci declined to issue a recommendation, effectively ending the discussion for September of 2012.
The proposed plan would have reorganized the district’s elementary schools by grade level, not geographic location.
“This is not the right time for this instructional vision,” Melucci said. “Please know that we will continue to do our best to address the main purposes that were given for researching the elementary reorganization, increase the consistency of curriculum instruction and assessment across grade levels, and provide equitable distribution of staff and materials.”
The decision, which was scheduled to come in March, came during Monday’s budget work session, according to Melucci.
“As we went through our budget discussion and saw the devastating cuts we’re getting this year, we realized that there was no way we could implement what was needed, particularly in the area of busing,” Board President Neil Schloth told Patch following the meeting. “A lot of the school district said they wanted transportation. There’s no way we could afford that.
"A lot of the other things that we would need going forward, we just don’t have the assets for right now," Schloth added.
Schloth also said that the overwhelming negative feedback from the public contributed to the decision.
“It was a big part of it,” he said. “We calculated that about 53 people spoke (at the forums) and only three people spoke positively about it. They weighed in significantly. We know that we need the community behind us.”
Residents also recently formed an online petition against the plan.
The budgetary concerns that halted the plan include the need for new textbooks and teaching materials as a result of the new common core curriculum, a decrease in state aid, an increase in unfunded state mandates, and a 2.28 percent tax levy limit, according to the board.
A budget that exceeds that 2.28 percent limit would need to be voted in by a super majority. Based on past budget vote data reviewed by the board, they intend to produce a budget within the cap in 2012, according to Melucci.
As a final plea to a happy crowd, the board urged residents to write to their Congressman or Senator asking for a review of many of these policies and mandates.