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Small Class Sizes, Spending Limits Top Priorities

School district reveals results of Community Budget Survey.

Maintaining small class sizes while keeping any potential tax increase to a level near or below the tax levy cap were among the top takeaways from the school district’s recent on-line Community Budget Survey.

Superintendent Richard Simon unveiled the survey’s results Wednesday night at a budget work session held at Beach Street Middle School.

The survey’s 1,198 respondents provided a great deal of insight into the community’s priorities for the 2013-14 school year and beyond.

When asked about class sizes, 82 percent of respondents were in favor of keeping average class sizes low versus raising class sizes. In fact, 57.1 percent said it was “essential and critical” to keep class sizes low.

When asked about the draft budget for the 2013-14 school year, 57.6 percent said they would support a tax levy increase only to the cap, which for West Islip is 3.8 percent.

However, the question about the tax levy increase for the coming school year’s budget was criticized by a number of survey respondents. They complained that there was no choice given for those who wanted no tax levy increase or an increase that was less than the school district’s tax levy cap.

“Approximately 50 comments indicated a preference for a tax increase that is less than the cap, including some that requested no tax increase,” Simon said.

One money saving proposal now on the table, reducing the middle school day to eight periods from nine periods for a savings of about $700,000 annually, was met with split results. In the survey, 51 percent viewed maintaining a nine period day at the middle school level as “essential and critical” or “very important,” while 49 percent said it was “good but not essential” or “not important enough to preserve.”

Other survey result highlights:

• A majority of respondents (56.8%) favored some type of furlough to help the school district save money.

• Nearly 7 in 10 respondents said the school district should use additional reserves in the 2013-14 budget.

• 76.9 percent of those who took the survey said they were the parent of a school-aged child currently attending West Islip schools.

Simon also said that IP addresses were used to monitor the survey and avoid anyone “stuffing the ballot.” He noted that there were a few IP address that had “30 or 40” responses and the decision to limit responses from a given IP address to five was made.

A copy of the full survey results are attached with this story.

pampatriot March 25, 2013 at 11:32 PM
Hi Mr. Knots, I want to stick with the common core standards for a minute. Personally, I don't appreciate the way Race to the Top money was dangled in front of every states governor, states that are (like NY) fiscally challenged at this point in time. Attached to that money was the common core curriculum. The ‘Race to the Top’ funding is available for each state to implement the teacher evaluation process that is to be used for uniformity in education. It’s supposed to help raise the levels of teaching to meet the common core standards which links students grades to teacher accountability. It's a lock box. I've been reading where the teachers union in some cities are not going along with this evaluation process because of the way it forces teachers to adhere to a method of teaching that they do not approve of or embrace. The money must be used to improve teacher evaluations, improve data collection and use, while moving toward the common core. How about teacher autonomy? There is something wrong with accepting a common standard of education for every child in America and across the globe. Individual states shouldn't be falling for this one size fits all educational product. Now the teachers, whose livelihood has always hinged upon creativity in the classroom, exceptional education, and a love for teaching, will be subjected to a one size fits all standard, if they don't measure up, fail to comply, what then, will it be bye-bye? That is why I am concerned.
pampatriot March 25, 2013 at 11:43 PM
First you need to understand the common core curriculum. Teacher evaluations are hinged upon being able to teach the common core standards and get all of America's children on the same page, actually all the global children on the same page. It's a lot more complicated than that. Individual states should be working with school districts to create best teaching methods and curriculum. Now our children are the guinea pigs. Diane Ravitch, former US assistant secretary for education, She writes in The Washington Post, “The common core curriculum was developed by an organization called Achieve and the National Governors Association, both of which were generously funded by the Gates Foundation. There was minimal public engagement in the development of the Common Core. Their creation was neither grassroots nor did it emanate from the states, in fact the Heritage Foundation, believe it is undermining states’ rights and local control. I'm worried about our teachers, there is always another way to evaluate our teachers if we really WANTED TO, but not when it hinges upon adoption of this common core, one size fits all, curriculum. That's when it gets very scary as Mr. Knots said.
Donald Knots March 26, 2013 at 12:51 AM
Two seats are open Patriot I think you have the makings of a candidate for the BOE!
pampatriot March 26, 2013 at 02:23 AM
No I don't. I have the makings of someone who stays on the fringe and holds those who CHOSE to run and be elected accountable. We all play our roles. We all know our abilities, some of us are there for the wrong reasons while some run for very clean, righteous reasons, with only service is mind. I don't understand, and probably never will, why the human psyche is such that it can CHOOSE to IGNORE the magnitude of BOE responsibilities, while being blessed with so many awesome talents and gifts, just to use them for self serving, political, and very cowardess, agendas. Hiding behind state mandate formulas, tax levy increases, union conundrums, all in an attempt to successfully fake out the constituency. Where is the nobility in that? Where is the honor in that? Yuk, it's junk, it makes me sick, like making an off handed comment about cementing all the fields in WI, thus hurting the children in WI. Why is something so off handed said, with such sarcasm? Why should a serious issue like security of our high school become a "did you mean to say that" issue...as though a perceived and alleged personal attack of the HS principal needed to be clarified in order for the message to be received. Talk about divisiveness. So to point out anything, question anything, with an absolute understanding of the material involved is taboo? Insulting! The BOE I think were sitting in aluminum chairs, not THRONES. I hope they realize that. So much discuss, so much not being discussed.
Tired of This March 26, 2013 at 02:00 PM
Once again leave it to politics to get this all wrong. When most of us were elementary age we all took standardized test. The difference was that these test were used both as a guide to evaluate the student and as a guide to evaluate the teacher by having the students tested two or three times throughout the school year. The evaluations should be based on the improvement of the child. It's ridiculous that the testing occurs once a year, it is the core for which the teachers' teach and misses the entire concept of how the child is developing. It pains me to say that my third grader has not participated in a reading group in over three months because her teacher is trying to have each child conceptually understand the state exams. This teaching style hurts the children and truly does not reflect the quality of the teacher. Testing is crucial to evaluate the needs and strengths of any individual, it's just done the wrong way in the education system.

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