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Region 14 Director of Curriculum Position Called Lightning Rod [POLL]

Superintendent Jody Goeler still supports the director of curriculum and development position but said it's clear the majority of the community doesn't share his opinion.

 

The Region 14 Board of Education discussed several options for a new budget figure at its Tuesday, June 12, special meeting, after the budget failed for the second time at the .

A special Board of Education meeting will take place at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 14, at .

"We're going into the third referendum and the thing we continue to hear is we don't want another administrator in the district," said Goeler.

He said that the position of director of curriculum and development is not a new position but rather a restoration of one that existed before.

"I understand people won't support the budget with that position in it," said Goeler. "So what do we do?"

He relayed the following options to the board.

Option One: A 1.53 Percent Increase Over the 2011-12 Budget

  1. Reduce the proposed budget by $153,000 by removing the director of curriculum and instruction position.
  2. Require current literary specialists to develop model instruction for each grade.
  3. Hire reading tutors to fill the gap left by the literary specialists' reassignment.

This option incorporates removing $153,000 from the proposed budget and adding in $110,000, Goeler said. Option A is $43,000 less than the $153,000 cost of a director of curriculum and instruction position.

Then, Goeler suggested removing $30,000 from various accounts, with the final result being the 1.53 percent increase over the 2011-12 budget.

Option Two: A 1.17 Percent Increase Over the 2011-12 Budget

"If we remove the director completely and didn't backfill and made a commitment as a district to put the work off for another year, which I wouldn't advise, we would be at a 1.17 percent increase," Goeler said.

Board members George Bauer and John Chapman said Goeler's options were a good place to start.

"I don't think its gong to be low enough to garner support from the public," said Bauer."I don't think a 1.17 percent increase is low enough."

Chapman said that between the two budget referendums, the votes were similar.

2012-13 Budget Referendum History

The Region 14 budget failed, 1,203 to 836 districtwide, at a . That budget, at $31,205,513, featured a 3.17 percent increase or  $959,484 over the 2011-12 budget of $30,246,029.

The community , 1,210 to 843, on Wednesday, June 6. That budget amount, at $30,817,765, reflected a $571,736 increase, or 1.89 percent, over the 2011-12 budget of $30,246,029.

"It's difficult for me to draw any conclusions other than, the budgets have not passed," Chapman said.

He echoed Chairman Chuck Cosgriff's assertion that there are three possible reasons for the lack of support: the director of curriculum and instruction position, frustration with the cost and benefit of the agriscience program at Nonnewaug High School or the overall percentage increase.

"In my mind, I'm not sure what the critical factor is," said Chapman.

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Readers weighed in on the reasons why the budget was rejected in

The votes, as of 2:45 a.m. Wednesday, June 13, were as follows:

  • The vo-ag program: 12 votes or 10 percent
  • The director of curriculum and instruction: 54 votes or 48 percent
  • The total percentage increase over last year's budget: 45 votes or 40 percent

Option Three: A Zero Percent Increase Over the 2011-12 Budget

Chapman asked Goeler to describe cuts that could occur in order to achieve a flat budget. Goeler said that as superintendent, he does not support a flat budget.

"Is there a way you can describe cuts we need to get to zero?" said Chapman. "I think that's been floated around as a budget that will pass. What kind of things will happen to this budget? I think people need to see it. I need to see it."

Director of Fiscal Services Jim Reese said achieving a flat budget will require approximately $450,000 in reductions. That could equate to reducing staff, increasing class sizes, eliminating electives and advanced placement classes, disbanding clubs and looking at athletics.

"If you're going to take out $450,000, there are going to be some very significant changes," said Reese. "If you're going to take out that kind of money, we're really looking at staffing."

There is nothing in the Region 14 charter indicating the region must have interscholastic athletics programs, arts or music, Goeler said. Suslavich suggested a possible activity fee for clubs and sports.

Board member Maryanne Van Aken said she does not want residents to think the board is threatening voters.

"This is reality," she said. 

Resident Wayne Anderson said he voted for the last two budgets but feels the majority of the community wants a flat budget. He recommended the board succinctly list what will be eliminated if a flat budget is achieved.

"I think the important number now is a zero increase budget," he said. "I also think the priority for this board is that curriculum director."

Anderson said that if the board presents a flat budget but includes the administrative position in that budget, they must explain what the district will retain and what the district will lose.

"What concerns me is that we're talking about two different things — a zero percent budget and the director of curriculum being a lightning rod," said board member Van Aken. "Are we going to hear that the budget will go down in flames because we still have that position in there?"

Parent Candace De Felice said she does not support a budget without a director of curriculum.

"It's the essence of what we do," she said.

Why Goeler Supports the Director Position

Without a director of curriculum of development in Region 14, the district lacks coherence, he said.

"If we don't have a coherent curriculum, what the students learn one year isn't being reinforced the next year," said Goeler.

Goeler submitted a June 1 editorial to Patch explaining in more detail why he feels .

Selectman Dave Deakin of Bethlehem said he feels a budget between a one and one-and-a-quarter percent increase will pass. He also said he had a big topic to bring up.

"Reconfiguration was taken out of our school system last year and reconfiguration appeared to be on the trend of answering some of the questions in this district," he said.

During the years of reconfiguration, the budgets were flat more often than not, said Deakin.

"I'm not saying 'let's go back to K-2, 3-5'," he said. "But this conversation needs to happen again. It could be K-8. You need to study the trend of those four years. I think those years proved that the administration was on the right track."

Privilege of the Floor

Jim Crocker Sr. said he read about declining Mastery test scores in Region 14 wants to know why the town pays so much for a district that is not doing too well.

"I don't think that a lot of people in the community understand that our performance is not good," he said. "We as a community need to understand why those tests are poor."

Van Aken said a lack of cohesive curriculum contributes to low test scores.

"I think people need to understand that it costs money to educate our kids," she said. "Change and improvement won't come cheap."
 

Bob June 13, 2012 at 12:58 PM
I don’t understand why the Curriculum position has to be an admin job at 153k. Why does the superintendent need an assistant which is what this job would be? The town could save a lot of money (especially benefits) if teachers and department heads were given stipends to do this job instead. It would help out some of the staff, and the curriculum would be more effective because the person designing it actually teaches the material. I will support the 1.53, but not with this position. I won’t even support a zero percent if it includes this position. If other districts have their own non admin staff (and therefore cheaper) do this job, so can we.
socrates June 13, 2012 at 01:25 PM
Good grief, why does a curriculum have to be entirely redesigned every year? That's absurd. How on Earth did we as kids ever get educated without such a position???
Dave Terry June 13, 2012 at 06:55 PM
After reading the article twice, I think everyone involved with this budget process is "only re arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic"! What are the current personnel being compensated for? I thought the assignment of all school personnrl was to provide a coherent curuiculum for all the students from the get go. What are department heads and Adminstrators there for? They should be providing the leadership and guideance to accomplish any and all changes deemed necessary without adding individuals each time a change is needed. Do the teachers (or someone else) develop only one lesson plan and use it year after year or are they keeping up with current trends and modifying the lesson plans each year? The BOE should rethink the entire process, not just try to tweak things just to get a budget passed.
Jon Thulin June 13, 2012 at 08:38 PM
There is a growing hew and cry about "administrators." All across the USA, taxpayers are taking a much harder look at administrative positions. In the past, If a problem arose, a "consultant" was hired and another study was done, all at taxpayer expense. BOA's then adopted the study and its recommended fix, told the tax payers that "we" have a serious problem" and need more money to fix it. Then, of course, we have to find an "expert educator is this field" and hire that person. Once the alleged problem is fixed then that hired person doesn't go away. That person is re-classified and assigned other "educational duties." Hence, we now have another drain on the salary pool. Often "temporary positions" are reclassified and become "permanent positions" or full time equivalents (FTE). With declining school enrollments, the educational cartel must protect its own.So,what you do is create another "administrative position." This is how it works! Now,with a depressed economy and loss of tax dollars, school systems must learn to cut from the top, not from the bottom. Usually the first thing to get cut are maintenance positions and teacher aides. Then we cut school supplies. We let the physical plant deteriorate and roofing leak while preserving administrative positions and teachers with tenure. Later on, we go back to the town or city and tell them that we need float a bond issue to fix deferred maintenance projects. The school system does not need a curriculum administrator.
WoodburyResident June 13, 2012 at 08:46 PM
Obviously the superintendent has a crony who he would like to see in the office next to him as the director of curriculum. I am amazed that this budget has failed twice and he still refuses to budge on this issue. As an educated taxpayer, it has actually become insulting at this point. Even more infuriating is the suggestion to punish the students for this disastrous budget by eliminating electives, athletics, and increasing class sizes. The students shouldn't have to pay for the administrations mistakes. The problem I have with rhe budget is not the need for curriculum development. It is the addition of another high-level administrator with a lucrative salary. A coherent curriculum could be developed and aligned by the current staff. Other districts pay teachers stipends to develop and align curriculum or pay them for summer curriculum hours every 5 years as needed. Has our superintendent looked into any of these alternate solutions? It sounds to me that what he really wants is an assistant superintendent.

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