Over the last few weeks I have become aware of some issues that warrant further review, and I brought those up for discussion at last night's school board meeting.
First, and most important, was computer education in the elementary schools. The computer aids were eliminated with the understanding that teachers are responsible for those classes (aids were there to assist, but not run the classes). What I've heard from numerous parents is that while some elementary teachers are still having computer labs, others are not. Clearly this was not what we wanted to happen, and so I asked Dr. Muenker for a thorough review of the situation. At last night's meeting he indicated that this has already been referred to Dr. Heble (Curriculum & Instruction). Stay tuned for updates on this situation.
The next issue of concern was the high school library, specifically that it is no longer available to students before or after school. An article in the school's Playwickian newspaper stated that "With a fast-paced learning environment in High School, students who do not have means to a computer are at a significant disadvantage compared to others." I had previously spoken to students about this issue, including my own children who attended NHS, and they didn't believe the library was utilized that much outside of normal school hours. But if this Playwickian article is to be believed, then the library may be more of a resource than we considered it to be. Dr. Muenker was already aware of this article in the school paper, and he confirmed he will be looking into this matter more closely.
The final matter I discussed last night actually had nothing to do with students directly, but rather our district's ability to effectively communicate to the outside world. Previously much of the district's communication came through a public relations person (Sandy Costanzo), but that position was eliminated after her retirement and her functions were absorbed by existing staff members. Since that time, I have received numerous emails from parents saying they have a difficult time reaching anyone in district administration and that their messages are never returned. And if you read the Courier Times regularly, you may have noticed many recent articles about our district which contained the phrase "District officials were not available for comment." This situation is frustrating to all those trying to contact the district, and it cannot be allowed to continue.
As important as all these topics are, there isn't a no-brainer solution at hand. Remember our fiscal situation is very tight, and any additions to the budget will have to be offset by a corresponding reduction. This reminds me of the words of our board president, Ritchie Webb, who said last school year that we can trim the budget with a scalpel or a chain saw - we've chosen a scalpel.
Mr. Webb was absolutely right - the scalpel was the much better way to go. Unfortunately even a scalpel wound hurts.
I'll keep you posted on updates to these and other matters.