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North Collins music department representatives talk about impact from budget

BY: Larry Wroblewski | November 28, 2012

At its Nov. 13 work session, the North Collins School Board heard from its Music Department on the continuing impact the budget and program cuts of the past two years are having.

The department was most effected, losing half its faculty from four to two.

Additionally, the two remaining instructors, Ruth Davis and Jill Finkley, are now responsible for the music program at both the Jr.-Sr. high and the elementary schools. The two reported that the tight scheduling necessary to cover both, do not allow them the time to offer components that historically were made available to student musicians.

Launching off the music review, Board member Richard Foster presented a comprehensive assessment documenting all the academic opportunities offered students by the district. The lengthy report lists not only what the school currently offers, but utilizes data from the past three years to show what has been lost as staffing has been cut. Foster said he was unsure what could be gleaned from his document but offered it to the Board as it begins a new budget process.

Reflecting on some of the more notable, advanced courses that were lost, Foster said “Are we preparing our students for life after high school? Are we creating graduates who will be competitive in life? Have we gone too far in our cuts?” Noting that his personal high school experience, despite offering only those courses necessary to meet State standards, produced many graduates who went on to achieve great things, he could not say with certainty that advanced and honor courses would improve students’ results.

One item that drew board members attention, the scattering of honor courses in various subjects that terminate after one or two years. Superintendent Benjamin Halsey said that those courses are remnants from his, and later current Principal Annie Metcalf’s long-range plans prior to the budget cuts of the past several years. The plan was to develop and enhance these areas but budgetary needs made it impossible.

The board agreed to use the assessment as it develops its next budget, and also agreed on a tentative calendar to meet its budget deadline.

Halsey reported that the van necessary to begin a bus route #10 for the furthest parts of the district has been received and is being lettered and having its radio installed. He reported that affected families have been sent a letter about the route change, and personal pickup and drop off times are being sent. He expects the route to commence Nov. 25.

Halsey also noted that he has delayed appointing an athletic director for a short time due to the fact that those most interested in the position were busy enjoying team successes this fall that extended their seasons. He also reported that less than $200,000 is outstanding from the $4.2 million property tax collection.

The board approved a Senior Class trip to New York City on June 9-10 and named chaperones Timothy Flanagan, Lindsay Koudounas and Robyn Turner. Flanagan, senior class advisor, presented the itinerary and safety provisions associated with the trip. It is expected that 35 students will participate at a cost of $185 per student. Flanagan also said the class will hold fund raisers to bring down the cost further.

The board approved the establishment of the “Never Give-Up Scholarship” which will fund a $100 scholarship each year over the next five. It was funded by an anonymous donor.

The board also appointed Eric Ring as unpaid assistant for the girls basketball team, approved Sharon Woronowski as a volunteer and accepted the resignation of John J. Buthy as a bus driver.

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