Sleepy Hollow Educators Make Requests in New District Budget

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|  by Janie Rosman  |  

Educators from the Tarrytown Union Free School District’s elementary, secondary, middle school and high schools discussed needs for next year at last month’s budget workshop.

Assistant Superintendent for Business John Staiger said the proposed budget is  $72,986,834, a 1.82 percent change from last year. The new budget will not affect raises, and nothing will be cut from technology. It also comes in under the governor’s mandated 2 percent tax cap levy.

Although the operational budget is status quo, Sleepy Hollow High School Principal Carol Conklin-Spillane “looks forward to doing exciting things next year.”

“We have leaders who are content experts, and we’re requesting resources for a technical chairperson at the secondary level,” Conklin-Spillane said. “With all the money we invest in technology, it’s important to have someone who stays on the cutting age and who is also a teacher practitioner.”

“We’re also looking at STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and technology) to continue the part-time person and make the position full-time to keep this initiative moving forward,” she said.

A third initiative would expand the school’s dual enrollment course via Advanced Placement or by having faculty certify as adjunct college professors so students can earn college credit for advanced work.

The middle school asked for a reallocation of a .4 (part-time) foreign language teacher whose position was assigned to the high school about two years ago when the middle school was required to offer more Academic Intervention Services (AIS). Since then the state lowered its requirement for AIS.

The middle school asked that Read 180 be moved back to the 7th grade, and while the biggest cost is moving the class, once moved, the only cost to the district is relicensing. A math curriculum is needed since right now the district relies solely on Common Core; the school has appropriated $30,000 if it finds a program appropriate for students. The “Digits” and “Big Ideas” math programs did not have enough differentiation.

When the Board asked why the school needs a .4 teacher, it learned the 7th and 8th grades programs are year-long with between 30 and 34 students in each of the foreign language classes. The 6th grade foreign language class swelled from 128 students last year to 196 students this year.

Pupil Personnel Services Director Scott Dorn’s department is considering another speech therapist. “We’re servicing some of the district’s most needy kids at home,” he said.

Board President Mimi Godwin cited one day at Winfield L. Morse school where training dogs were brought in to play with autistic children. “It just took your breath away, the reaction of the little ones to the dogs, and the reaction of the dogs,” she said. “What Dorn is doing in the schools, and for the district, is a credit to the department.”

For the 2016-2016 school year, Dorn said, “Looking forward, we’re going to need a classroom at Washington Irving; we have room at the high school.” He cited the unique programs at the Neighborhood House and thanked the district and JCC on the Hudson for their support.

Director of Athletics, Chuck Scarpulla, said students asked about a ski team and want the district to consider that request in terms of the athletic budget, which includes support for girls’ tennis.

Recently four or five female students tried out for the boys’ tennis team. “It seems like the Board is interested, so I came up with a figure,” Scarpulla said. With an okay to use the village’s tennis courts in the fall, he said, “I set up a budget for the district business office to review.”

Scarpulla proposed the school start a ski team. “Two years ago three students said they were interested and raised money through donations and fundraisers to compete,” he said. It worked out so well, he said, that this year the number tripled, “And about nine kids wanted a team and again did fundraising.

“I think more kids will be interested in it, and a ski team is not as expensive as most sports,” Scarpulla said. “Plus we only ski about 20 or 22 days of the winter, depending on the amount of snow on hills.”

More information will be forthcoming at the board’s third and final budget workshop on Saturday, April 11.

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