Story by Shelley R. Clapper
Greenwood Lake School District Superintendent Dr. Christine Ackerman gave a presentation on the proposed pre-kindergarten program for the 2017-18 school year during the school board meeting on Tues., Apr. 18 . She explained that it would consist of a half-day program of two and a half hours, with one session in the morning and one in the afternoon. Enrollment would be automatic for teenage parents, single parent households, low-income households and families where English is a second language. All other students would be eligible through a lottery system. Transportation would be provided, even though, as she explained, it is not required under state education guidelines.
“It is something we have wanted to do for a long time. With a 0.22 percent tax levy increase we can support it in our budget,” Ackerman replied when a board member asked why she was proposing to do it now. She said, “I am proposing a research-based method.”
Sarah Hadden, the Director of Curriculum and Technology, showed that there was a downward trend from the 2012-13 year till the 2016-17 year in the math and reading skills of students coming into kindergarten at Greenwood Lake. A display showed that 83 percent of students are not projected to meet the proficiency in English Language Arts and 56 percent of students are not projected to meet the proficiency target in Math. A list of all the schools in the mid-Hudson area that offer pre-kindergarten was displayed, including Monroe-Woodbury and Highland Falls.
Board member John Finn asked why the proposed pre-kindergarten cannot be located in the Elementary School as opposed to the present plan of the Middle School.
“There is no space but if the board wants us to figure it out we will. I just don’t want the issue of space to prevent us from moving forward,” said Dr. Ackerman.
During public comment on agenda items, the owners of a local preschool expressed their disappointment with the proposed pre-kindergarten program at G.L. They said that the District is data driven and asked if the District is using common core to assess students. They said that they find it hard to believe that 83 percent of the students are below average in ELA.
Project Lead the Way Presentation
At the beginning of the meeting, Project Lead the Way teachers Victor Pignataro and Alex Vinelli provided a presentation on work the students have been doing with a laser engraver. Students used a laser beam to physically remove the surface material to expose a cavity that reveals an image.
“We have done wood, ceramics and soap,” said Pignataro. “It looks like someone using a blow torch. I can’t believe how quickly fifth graders have picked this up.”
Students made personalized soap dishes using the engraver. The Board then moved to the Project Lead the Way classroom to view examples of their work and listen to student Courtney Romano explain how the laser printer works. Project Lead the Way provides students with real-life learning opportunities in the fields of computer science, engineering and biomedical studies. Dr. Ackerman thanked the board for their support in developing the space for Project Lead the Way. She also thanked the community for supporting the project.
Dr. Ackerman said that in the new budget there will be a continuity of programs such as Reader’s Workshop, Writer’s Workshop, Singapore Math, and Project Lead the Way, all from kindergarten to eighth grade. Spanish from kindergarten to sixth grade will also be provided in the budget.
She reported that there will be a budget reduction by not using BOCES for ESL and having their own staff member provide this service. Another reduction will come from sharing data services with another district.
The total tax levy for 2017-18 is $16,246,256, showing an increase of 0.2 percent over the previous budget. The total budget for 2017-18 is projected at $25,693,920, an increase of $248,605 over the previous budget.
Next Board Meetings & Budget Vote
On Wed., May 3 at 5:30 p.m. there will be a public hearing on the proposed budget at the Middle School Library, located at 1247 Lakes Rd. in Monroe.
On Tues., May 16 there will be a budget vote and election business meeting. The budget vote will take place between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. at the Elementary School and the business meeting will take place at 7.30 p.m. at the Elementary School, located at 80 Waterstone Rd. in Greenwood Lake.