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.