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Breaking Down the Budget: What Teacher Layoffs Would Mean

Two district principals describe what kindergarten would look like if reduced to a half-day program, and what kind of effects increased class sizes would have.

As the Three Village Central School District copes with losses in state aid combined with unfunded mandates and rising costs, administrators have proposed eliminating nine full-time equivalent teaching positions at the elementary level in order to meet the reductions still necessary in a budget that would increase the tax levy by 4.5 percent.

Some of those proposed cuts can be attributed to a decline in enrollment and would have been made anyway, according to Jeff Carlson, assistant superintendent for business services.

But should the school board choose a school budget that increases the tax levy by the – or if the community votes down the budget in two tries, which would mean the district goes to a contingency budget of no tax levy increase – the current full-day kindergarten program would be relegated to a half-day program, and more teachers would likely be let go, thus increasing class sizes in grades one through six.

In a recent interview with Patch, Carlson explained that each full-time equivalent position eliminated would save the district about $70,000. Thus, eliminating 9 elementary positions across the five elementary schools – which is what the 4.5 percent budget proposal calls for – would save the district about $630,000 in personnel costs.

A half-day kindergarten program would leave teachers with two hours and 50 minutes of class time for each section.

At the March 20 school budget meeting, two of the district's principals – Kathryn White, principal of , and Gail Casciano, principal of , lobbied to preserve the full-day kindergarten program, saying the move would do the following:

  • Threaten teachers' ability to cover every subject and activity typically taught at the kindergarten level, as the district complies with state curriculum mandates (also known as common core standards);
  • Decimate teachers' ability to differentiate instruction to meet the needs of the students' various levels of learning abilties;
  • Prevent teachers from being able to facilitate deep social and emotional learning alongside the main subject areas;
  • Adversely affect teachers' ability to prepare students for first grade;
  • Cut music, art, and physical education from the students' daily activities.

During past board meetings, administrators and school board trustees pointed out that the fallout could also mean added costs for working parents who would need to find child care solutions for the "other half" of their children's school day.

"We all believe the negative impact this would have would be felt for years to come," White said.

Discussing the possible elimination of the district's sole elementary reading specialist, White said children who fall behind the standards in their ability to read would eventually require more reading specialists to help them catch up later. "A cost savings now could result in an expense later," White said.

Casciano cited multiple studies during the presentation. "Generally speaking, the research seems to favor full day or extended day programs," she said. "... To go to a half-day model, we feel that would be moving backwards."

Carlson told Patch that increased average class sizes would amount to the addition of one to two students, depending on the number of students in each grade and in each of the five schools.

Current Average Elementary Class Sizes in Three Village

Grade Class Size Kindergarten 19.1 Grade 1 20.4 Grade 2 22.5 Grade 3 22 Grade 4 20.5 Grade 5 21.4 Grade 6 22.1

Casciano said increased class sizes would put further crowd classrooms; cause teachers to spend more time overtly managing the classroom; lessen teachers' ability to promote social and emotion learning and develop a connection with each child; and, like half-day kindergarten, decrease teachers' ability to differentiate instruction to the students' various levels of learning in a class.

"Most if not all teachers feel strongly about the benefits of smaller class sizes," she said. "...There is also research to support the relationship between smaller class size and greater academic achievement."

Haig March 27, 2012 at 03:12 PM
Scare Tactics
Stony Brook Resident March 27, 2012 at 10:14 PM
There are WAY too many people being paid a ridiculous amount of money annually for nothing. They need to leave the teachers, special programs and sports alone. Start hacking away at the salaries of the higher-ups right down to the catering (yes CATERING!) the district does and I guarantee you the budget gap would be closed. Go to www.seethroughny.net to see the salaries of the administration working at North Country. You won't believe it.
A Stony Brook Resident March 28, 2012 at 04:59 PM
Why not cut administrator salaries instead?
A Stony Brook Resident March 28, 2012 at 05:02 PM
Seriously, how much more do they think they can squeeze out of us?! Shame on them!
LivingSmall March 29, 2012 at 12:47 PM
Why would the school hire on and retain a concussion doctor to oversee a very limited portion of students -- those on 'extracurricular' sports teams -- and even contemplate reducing K to 1/2 day (affecting ALL students with long-term implications) and cutting classes in both Junior Highs and High Schools? By the time all is said and done, the gutted formerly highly acclaimed TVCSD will be a mere shell of itself. At least we won't have to worry about the possibility of a lauded lacrosse jock having a concussion.
LivingSmall March 29, 2012 at 12:54 PM
Stony Brook Resident -- more people should know about www.seethroughny.net to get a good idea of how much our district pays in salaries and pensions at all levels.
Stony Brook Resident March 29, 2012 at 04:32 PM
Living Small: I hope a lot of the Three Village taxpayers see that sight. It is time we stand up to these people who are putting hundreds of thousands of dollars (literally!) in their own pockets at our expense and our children's.
Had Enuf! March 29, 2012 at 11:47 PM
Imagine this school board, backed by the teachers union, promoting a budget increase larger than the 2% state cap? Before you know it, the only residents of Three Village will be retired employees of school districts , current employees of school districts, and other public employees. The public employees pension plan is unsustainable, and Cuomo's "fix" will really only impact taxes 30 years from now. If there ever was a time for our school board to demand givebacks in salary and benefits, it has been the past few years....and they caved. Why shouldn't teachers and other public employees pay more for benefits, why shouldn't they give 20% reduction in salary? Many in the private sector have. GET OUT OF NY STATE BEFORE IT's TOO LATE........
Nick May 25, 2012 at 06:16 PM
Can you afford a 20 % give back. More importantly it's ez for you to say they should give back but If you were Asked, would you? No one can so that's a rediculous recommendation. No matter where teachers work they pay taxes too. The board didn't cave teachers have back 2 years in a row and if it wasn't for them last year the budget wouldnt have passed. Give them a break already they ate trying to earn a living too. They can't be too overpaid if most of the teachers working 15 years or less have to have a second job.

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