Editor's Note: This is a letter written by a group of Three Village parents which was signed by a total of 197 community members. It was presented to the Board of Education on Tuesday, April 5 as a public address by Carol Castillo.
To the Three Village School Board:
April 5, 2011
We, the undersigned parents of children in the district, ask you to reconsider the phased out elimination of the elementary IG program that appears in the proposed budget. We also request that you reconsider the proposed cuts to advanced math and science courses at the secondary level.
We understand and appreciate the very difficult decisions that have to be made when cuts are necessary. We also understand that you need to make wise cuts, to maintain the integrity of the programs offered and the educational quality that the community has come to expect from this district.
We urge you to consider the value of each budgetary investment relative to its costs. Eliminating or diminishing the elementary IG program and advanced secondary courses not only hurts children whose educational abilities require accelerated curricula and an advanced pace in order to reach their potential, it would be counter-productive to maintaining the excellence of our district, which benefits all of the members of our community.
As to the proposed phasing out of IG: We implore you to keep the current program in place, unless and until a sound educational alternative has been developed for the 30 hours each week that students currently spend in IG. A replacement program should offer those students the same educational benefits that they receive now. The value of the IG program outweighs the minimal savings that would be recognized by eliminating the program: $80,000 amounts to approximately 1 percent of the stated goal to cut nearly $7 million.
It is important to point out that the IG program and the Pi program are fundamentally different, and that even though both are aimed at challenging more capable learners, neither is a substitute for the other. An evaluation of the effectiveness of Pi, and whether it has fulfilled the goal it was designed to meet, should be undertaken after the program has been in place sufficiently long enough to provide adequate data. However, this evaluation should be considered independent of current decisions about the IG Program.
As to the proposed cuts to advanced math and science courses at the junior and senior high level: although they are beyond what is mandated, these courses are critically important offerings that attract numerous students and provide them with the educational tools that promote high school and college success.
These courses also epitomize many of the strengths of our school district, strengths which have historically attracted residents to our community, preserved the high values of our property and homes, and maintained the well-deserved national reputation of our schools.
Also, by offering advanced mathematics and science courses such as these, we advance the competitiveness of Long Island, of New York, and of our nation in the global economy. Recent studies indicate that America is losing her foothold internationally because of declines in science and mathematics literacy relative to other countries. We must, therefore, continue to support the types of educational programs that identify exceptional talent at a young age and cultivate those who will lead our country in future breakthroughs in science, math, technology and other important areas.
In closing, we would like to thank you for your time and for considering our message: Cutting accelerated education to students at all levels is a mistake that we cannot afford.