If the Malverne school board adopts the budget currently proposed by the administration and taxpayers approve it, students in the district could see some significant changes to life as they know it next year.
This was the focus of Tuesday's budget review session, where principals from each of the district's four schools - , , and - presented what a typical day in the life of its students looks like now and how it would be impacted by the recommended budget cuts.
For instance, right now Downing and Davison students receive library instruction once every six-day cycle, but under the proposed budget the full-time librarian that works at both schools would be eliminated to save the district roughly $100K. It would then become the classroom teachers' responsibility to bring their students to the library and teach them how to use the resources available to them.
The board appeared to be split over this issue, with Trustees Karen Aker and Gina Genti advocating to preserve the "library experience," while Patrick Coonan and Peg O'Connor argued that the teachers could provide this service. A handful of parents also made their case for keeping the librarian on staff or to create a media specialist position that would teach both library research and computer skills.
“It’s not going to be the same. Even though we all say we are here for the children, at times I wonder,” Aker said. “No matter what we do, the children always suffer.”
Students at both elementary schools would also receive one less art class and one less music class in their cycles. (Physical education, which is mandated, will remain the same.)
The recommended elimination of 14.5 full time equivalent faculty members would also result in a slight increase in class sizes. In Kindergarten through Grade 5, classes range from 19 to 23 students right now but could swell to 22 to 25 students.
Superintendent James Hunderfund said elementary students would still receive at least one special course each day, because the district uses the time that the students are at music, art or PE, to provide teachers with the daily prep period required in their contract.
“It’s not just to provide prep periods,” Assistant Superintendent Richard Banyon added, saying the courses make the children “well-rounded.”
With the fifth grade moving into Davison next year, Banyon said that the introduction to foreign language course currently being given in this grade will have to be eliminated. These students will also have to postpone getting their mandated half-year of technology and family consumer science until they get to Herber. Because a schedule for the class hasn’t been finalized yet – a committee has been working on this and making recommendations to Banyon – it’s too soon to say how else these students will be impacted by the reductions.
The situation is more complicated in the middle school and even more so in the high school, where students are placed on different tracks based on whether they take advanced courses or not, which math and sciences they choose to study and what electives they opt to take.
Malverne High School Principal Jim Brown said that in order to graduate, the state mandates that all students take a minimum of 22 credits and those pursuing an advanced regents diploma need even more. Therefore, the cuts will have to come from electives, the ones that have the lowest enrollments. Brown will be able to determine which ones will be eliminated in the coming weeks after students make their course selections for next year.
The proposed budget also calls for cuts in non-classroom services the district provides including psychology and social work. As far as extracurriculars are concerned, intramural sports would be eliminated from all four schools to save $22K. Paid clubs advisors would also be reduced, resulting in a decrease in the number of clubs offered. (There were 53 in 2010-11, but the district estimates the proposed budget will only fund 27.) Student Council, Science Olympiad and Garden Club in the Middle School are on the chopping block too.
The high school would also lose winter bowling, which costs $8,600, and one assistant track coach, so it would have just one assigned to both the boys and girls teams.
“I don’t think intramurals should be cut,” Genti said, to which Coonan added, “I kind of agree.”
Genti did suggest eliminating the athletic trainer to save $25K. “I know she’s a value added but we’ve only had her for a few years,“ she said, stating that her “priority” when looking at the budget is “in the classrooms.”
“She’s worth that $25K though when something happens to our kids,” Board President Danielle Hopkins responded.
From there, the board continued its line-by-line review of the proposed budget, and sought input from the public. Check back this afternoon to see what was discussed during these parts of the meeting.
To view more articles about the 2012-2013 Malverne school budget, click here to access our topic page.
Later this morning, you'll also be able watch footage from Tuesday's school board meeting right here on Patch. You can see the full presentation delivered by the principals regarding the cuts and the first part of the board's line-by-line budget analysis. (Sorry our battery died halfway through the three hour meeting, so we were only able to record the first half!)
Sound Off: What you think of the proposed cuts? Tell us in the comments section below!