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Friday, May 14, 2010

Class size vs. athletics

Question: I was wondering how anyone would vote for sports over class size. I do believe that sports give students a chance to improve themselves, but in the younger grades the children's parents are expected to pay fees and get sports equiptment for their children and transport them if playing on travel teams. They should do that in high school as well and leave class size in the elementary grades alone. Increasing class size is why I moved my family from Amsterdam to Broadalbin. They were increasing class size and I didn't want that for my son. My feeling is that if you want to increase class size, then do it in the older high school grades. So my question right now is why were class sizes increased rather than cutting sports? I know that I will be voting down the budget just because you are increasing class size no matter what.

Answer: The night that members of the Board of Education adopted the proposed budget, they looked at four different options. All four of these options included the elimination of the seven staff positions that are reflected in the proposed budget. The other three options that the board rejected included additional staff cuts, and two options called for the elimination of the district's athletics program. So, of the four budget drafts that board members considered, the budget they adopted is the least severe when it comes to budget cuts.

Board members also had the option to go back to the drawing board and examine budget drafts that restored more cuts than are in the proposed budget. However, they spent seven months listening to the concerns of residents -- not just parents, but taxpayers who are on fixed incomes or who do not have children in the school system. The board's directive is to be responsive to ALL members of the community while staying true to the mission of the school district: Educate our students. In the end, board members decided that the proposed budget was their best option in terms of balancing those obligations.

As for choosing class size over athletics, please keep this in mind: If residents vote down the budget on May 18, it will not be a question of one or the other. Should the board decide to go directly to a contingent budget, all the cuts that are reflected in the proposed budget would remain and the board would have to cut an ADDITIONAL $487,395 from the proposed budget. In all likelihood, the bulk of those cuts would come from eliminating the district's athletics program. If the board decides to revise the proposed budget for a second vote, again, board members would likely decide to make additional cuts beyond the ones that are already in place. So, voting down the budget would not lead to the positive change in elementary class sizes that you're looking for.

That being said, our district's administration is committed to providing the best education for our students that we can under these difficult economic circumstances. During the summer months, we will examine enrollment figures at each elementary grade level and take into consideration the ages of children at each grade before making any final decisions about staffing that will increase class sizes.
- answered by Stephen Tomlinson, District Superintendent

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