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Budget news & information

Budget rumors: Fact or fiction?

Preparing a school budget is a complex process. While the district makes every effort to explain the nuances of all proposed changes in a clear and concise manner, rumors are bound to arise. Below are some of the more common questions and concerns being heard around town, as well as related clarifications on each topic.

 

Is the school district closing Lynnwood Elementary School at the end of the year?

No, the district is not closing Lynnwood Elementary at the end of the school year. In fact, there are no plans to close any district buildings at this time. Closing a building is not a simple decision. Whether or not to make significant changes to the district’s use of space requires careful study and planning. It also takes time. While the district will likely review its use of space and district buildings in the near future, there will be no significant changes in place for the 2012-13 school year. In addition, any study completed would look at the use of all buildings—not just one in particular.

 

I have heard that all elementary art teachers will be teaching six classes every day in the upcoming school year. Is this true?

Yes, under the recommended change to the elementary schedule, art teachers would go from teaching five classes each day to teaching six classes each day—increasing their overall student contact time on a daily basis from 200 to 240 minutes. There are 325 minutes of available instructional time each day, not counting teachers’ 30 minute lunch period and their contractually defined planning time. There has been some concern that due to the proposed change, elementary art teachers will need to prepare lessons for six different grade levels each day. While some teachers may have to provide instruction to six different grade levels in a single day, the lessons that they prepare will be repeated in subsequent days of the week, since students receive art instruction only one day per week. At this point in time, it appears that only one elementary art teacher will be affected in that manner. For the teachers who will need to travel between buildings, approximately 0.1 full-time equivalent of their assignment has been built in to accommodate travel time; this will not count against their planning time.)

 

Will students be offered fewer course selections due to the proposed change in art staffing at the high school?

Absolutely not. The proposed change to art staffing at the high school is a direct result of projected changes in enrollment. No K-12 art programs are being eliminated due to the proposed changes in art staffing, nor will minutes of instruction be lessened at any level.

 

My neighbor told me that if the proposed schedule changes at the high school are enacted, that students will not have study halls built into the school day. How will they receive extra help or be able to make up work?

Unless students request and are scheduled for an eighth class, they will have one study hall every other day—just as Advisory is currently offered every other (B/D) day. However, the day and the block of a student’s study hall will vary depending on each student’s unique course load. During study hall, students will have the opportunity to complete coursework and assignments. They will also have an opportunity to visit the library, counseling center, or one of several learning centers that will be available throughout the building to seek extra help from available staff in individual subject areas. In addition, students continue to have the opportunity to meet with their specific classroom teachers either before or after school.

 

Isn’t the proposed scheduling change at the high school just a way to save money?

While the district will see some savings from the proposed changes to the Guilderland High School schedule, the main impetus of the change is to improve the overall school schedule to allow more flexibility for students. By creating an eighth instructional block in the two day cycle in lieu of Advisory, students will now have an opportunity to take an eighth course or elective that they might not otherwise have been able to fit into an already full schedule. Adding an eighth instructional period will also result in more balanced class sizes across sections.
In addition, as mentioned above, the new schedule structure creates opportunities during each period (or half period) of the day for students assigned to study halls to visit learning centers for extra help, go to the library or counseling center, and/or receive other support services (such as AIS, reading, or social work services). By staggering the times when students are scheduled to seek out extra help and services, there will be less congestion in these areas and consequently more opportunities for students to receive one-on-one assistance.
In short, the proposed scheduling change at the high school provides flexibility for our students and staff that will ultimately allow them more opportunities to learn and receive support throughout the school day.

 

I’ve heard that the proposed changes to the middle school schedule will result in teachers having to teach an extra section of students every day. Is this true?

Under the superintendent’s proposed budget, Farnsworth Middle School would transition from a nine-period day to an eight-period day in the upcoming school year. As a result, teams of 7th and 8th grade teachers would go from teaching four classes of 27-29 students (plus “tutorial”) to five classes of 23-25 students each day. Teachers currently meet with one group of students for a second time each day in tutorial; however, the tutorial period would be eliminated under the proposed scheduling change. So while it is true that teachers will be teaching an additional section of students each day, the overall number of students they will be teaching each period will decrease. The total number of students with whom they work may increase by 4-6 students. In addition, by transitioning to an eight-period day, the length of class periods will increase by five minutes and block periods will increase by ten minutes—increasing teacher instructional time with students each day. 

 

Please be sure to sure to check back to this page often, as new topics will be added throughout the budget season.

 

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