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Fourth Grade Parents Speak Up at East Rockaway Board of Ed Meeting

Unhappy with current class structure, parents take a stand.

A group of concerned parents filed into on Tuesday night with one thing on their minds - improving classroom conditions for their children.

This issue, as well as a multitude of opinions surrounding the highly-debated Princeton planning, dominated the two-hour long East Rockaway Union Free School District Board of Education meeting.

Janine O’Connor spoke on behalf of a committee of fourth grade parents who are unhappy with the board’s recommendation that another teaching assistant be installed in the two class grade level at Center Avenue Elementary School.

“We came to the board in the second grade requesting a third section, but were told it was too late in the year to split the sections,” O’Connor said.

O’Conner said in her statement that in past years, students have not completed a full curriculum by June and are behind in many areas when compared with students in Rhame Avenue Elementary.

“How is another teaching assistant, who does not plan lessons, going to get these children where they need to be and complete the fourth grade curriculum?” she asked.

O’Connor added: “…These children are not getting the proper education. We hope that you reconsider your recommendation. Adding another teaching assistant is only solving the scheduling issue. It’s not solving the problems and the needs of this class.”

Following her presentation, the board thanked O’Connor and asked for copies of her research.

“We want these kids to be split, have a small class environment, and have the opportunity to learn,” O’Connor told Patch following the meeting.      

The Princeton Plan dominated the rest of the Privilege of the Floor section of the meeting. If enacted, the plan would reconfigure elementary school by grouping students by grade level, not residence location.

Parents expressed concerns about the actual effectiveness of the plan and transportation issues that could arise after such a dramatic realignment.

Resident Cathy Tierney requested that the board present state scores of schools that have recently executed the Princeton Plan before making a decision. The board stated that they would provide such statistics, but stressed that they are still in the early stages of investigating the plan.

“When we came about this concept, we were not a go-ahead,” Trustee Patti Nicoletti said. “If that were the case, we would be learning about the reconstruction. We hired a consultant to get as much information as possible, but have not made any decisions.”

Prior to the meeting, Director of Curriculum and Technology John Piccarella gave a presentation on the upcoming changes in the English curriculum.

Based on both national and international studies, state and national education standards now put a higher emphasis on literacy and analytical writing skills.      

The next Board of Education meeting is scheduled for December 13 at 7:30 p.m. at East Rockaway High School.

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