2009-09-30 / Features

State Reduces Class Size

BY RICHARD GENTILVISO

District 30 parents association and parent/teacher associations were welcomed at the first Community Education Council meeting of the school year, amidst some bleak economic news for the class size reduction effort.

"We honor and acknowledge you tonight," CEC 30 president Isaac Carmignani told newly elected PA and PTA officers on September 17 at the Queens Integrated Service Center in Long Island City.

For the first time, CEC 30 also hosted a public hearing on the proposed plan for state funding due this year (2009-2010) under the Contracts for Excellence. Total FY'10 funding is $387 million, the same as it was in FY'09.

Contracts for Excellence, or C4E, support specific programs, notably class size reduction and full day pre-kindergarten programs. They also predominantly benefit students with the greatest educational need: English language learners, students in poverty, students with disabilities and students with low academic achievement or at risk for not graduating.

Due to the severe economic downturn, District 30 Superintendent, Dr. Philip Composto said New York state cannot provide funding for new or ex- panded C4E programs for this school year or next (2010-2011). Essentially, the 2009-2010 plan is a "maintenance of effort" of the 2008-2009 plan, he said.

For class size reduction, District 30 has proposed $2,393,908 of its allocation for the creation of additional classrooms and $1,815,603 for reducing teacher-student ratios through team teaching. That amounts to $4,209,511 or 29.4 percent of the total $14,325,771 District 30 will receive. Every school in District 30, with the exception of I.S. 126, is at full utilization of its space.

Composto said other factors in class size planning that must be considered are teacher salaries, and an average 4.9 percent cut to schools. To comment or ask a question regarding C4E, e-mail ContractsForExcellence@schools.ny.gov.

Elected PA and PTA officers, responsible for selecting councilmembers during bi-annual voting most recently conducted last spring, were given copies of Robert's Rules of Order to help with their meetings. Suggestions for keeping up with current items, such as budgets, etc. were also distributed. The September CEC meeting was the first of quarterly PA/PTA meetings with the council, which meets monthly.

In other business, a resolution reaffirming council actions and votes taken during July and August was passed due to delay in approval of a new school governance law. A resolution adopting a council mission statement was also passed.

Amendments to the council's bylaws regarding attendance by electronic voice or video communication and PA/PTA grievance hearing process were passed as well.

DOE's Office of Portfolio has advised Dr. Composto that the acquisition of Blessed Sacrament School is proceeding and could be ready for a new elementary school there by September 2010.

P.S. 111 has requested a grade reconfiguration from pre-kindergarten through grade 8 to pre-k through grade 5, while P.S. 78 has asked for a reconfiguration from pre-kindergarten through grade 5 to pre-k through grade 8.

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