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CPCS will cut math position despite CPTA efforts

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COLTON - The Colton-Pierrepont Central School Board of Education has decided that in order to stay under the tax cap they will need to cut one high school math position.

The decision came shortly after one last pitch to save the post Wednesday evening by Colton-Pierrepont Teachers Association representatives.

“We are here to share with you our concerns about the recommendation to cut another teaching position. We discussed this with the administration and now we would like to present the same information to you,” school librarian Melinda Miller said.

“We do believe that we are down to a bare bones number in our teaching staff and that another reduction will have significant student impact as well as cause a host of other problems.”

Ms. Miller, English teacher Bonnie McGee, math teacher Donna McGinnis, 5/6 special education teacher Jenny Morrill, and social studies teacher Megan Leger spoke on behalf of the association last night, each outlining what issues a cut to the position would create.

“With the schedule the way it is and the staff technically at bare bones, it’s very difficult to provide AIS (Academic Intervention Services) to those students that need it here at CPCS. More classes and study halls have been added to the schedules of individuals with the loss of the social studies position last year. It will only be worse if you decide not to fill the math position this year,” Ms. McGee said. “With the Common Core rigor, there is more direct need for AIS for more students. It can not be done with our existing schedule. ... We cannot eliminate another position in which we impact our students even more.”

Ms. McGinnis discussed the repercussions that the decision would have on the math department’s flexibility in their schedules. She noted that due to the recent decrease in faculty members, students are unable to fit enough electives into their schedules, which subsequently leads to students having more study halls.

She said, the requirement for students to carry 6 1/2 credits per year has not been able to be fulfilled as easily.

Ms. McGinnis pointed to the decline in grades three through eight math testing scores in comparison to ELA numbers.

Ms. Leger was also outspoken in her opposition of the looming staff reduction. “As our staffing numbers dwindle, our vision of one to one computing is becoming blurred. I fear we are losing the focus of what our goal is here at CPCS,” she said. “If our goal is to merely get our kids to graduate then yes, depleting our staff to let our students just graduate is the answer. But if our goal is to create graduates with forward thinking mentality who participate in our society in innovative ways, then we have to keep our staff. In the end, we are investing in something much larger than ourselves and that is what we must keep our focus on.”

According to Ms. Miller, the school has gone from 11 to seven teacher assistants in recent years, lost two teachers from grades one through four, one in fifth and sixth grades, one social studies teacher, an elementary special education teacher, and a business teacher.

“These are just the things that have happened in the last seven or eight years,” she said. “... We don’t want to lose that which makes us special. We are a small school that has a lot to offer the children who go here. It is our specialness that keeps us competitive with the larger schools and we don’t want to see that change.”

Superintendent Joseph A. Kardash told the representatives that he was impressed with their dedication and understood their concerns. But he noted that because of the budget numbers the move had to be done.

“The fact that about a third of the staff is here to defend a position that doesn’t have a face - it’s just a position - just shows how much you guys care about the kids. The things that were said all have merit and we’ve had that discussion with the administrative table and they don’t disagree with most of it,” Mr. Kardash said.

“We have a projected revenue increase of $130,000 and a tax cap of $60,000 for a total potential of $190,000. That would leave us short (of the increased appropriations) approximately $250,000. ... At this point, in order to fill the gap, I would not recommend any reductions beyond a recommended math reduction. We do not want to lose what makes us special so I would recommend at that point to appropriate whatever is left out of the savings to make sure our budget is whole.”

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