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Colton-Pierrepont School Board votes to keep social studies position


COLTON - A recommendation by Colton-Pierrepont Central School Superintendent Joseph A. Kardash to eliminate a 7-12 social studies position gained a 3-2 vote Wednesday night by the board of education.

But with board members Michael Dumas and Sharon Andrews absent from the meeting, a simple majority of present board members was not enough to pass the resolution.

“We still need a majority. It’s Civics 101,” board member Jeffery Angleberger said explaining that with a seven member board, at least four votes are required to pass any resolution, regardless of how many board members are in attendance.

Mr. Angleberger, President Shelli Prespare-Weston and Kayc Stone each supported the superintendent’s recommendation.

“In the 11 years I’ve been on the board the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do was abolish an active position,” he said. “I would rather see us leave the position vacant and eliminate it than fill it and eliminate it down the road when there is somebody in it.”

Mr. Angleberger said the district has done a good job of keeping its budgets reasonable and the elimination of this position would be a step toward more reasonable budgets again in the future.

“We’re not the district the paper is writing about that has to lay off half their staff and have a double-digit tax increase,” he said. “We rely heavily on our tax base and there are changes out there brewing.”

Ms. Prespare-Weston agreed.

“I agree with everything Jeff said,” she said, adding that while the reduction may increase class sizes slightly, 14 or 15 students per class is not unreasonable.

“We can still offer our children smaller class sizes and individualized attention,” she said. “I think we can still do a good job by our kids.”

Mark Lee, who teaches science in the district, was the lone staff member to speak at the meeting.

“When I first began teaching here, I remember remarking to my wife what a wonderful place this was,” he said, adding that in his mind there was only one thing that needed to be addressed and that was more offerings for the district’s top students.

“In the last decade, we were able to bring in lots of very strong academic programs,” he said. “What we have right now is a really incredible school.”

Mr. Lee said that he was afraid staff reductions will hurt the school’s students and eventually lead to decreased course offerings.

“We know what’s going on in other schools,” he said. “Programs are being cut. We have the potential now to attract new people moving into the area.”

While acknowledging that he hasn’t had an opportunity to thoroughly review the budget, Mr. Lee said that he doesn’t feel like the district is in such bad shape that they need to cut a position this year.

“I don’t think we’re at that point now,” he said.

Mr. Kardash said the recommendation wasn’t an easy one to make, but given they have the opportunity to reduce a position without laying anybody off he felt that was an opportunity the district should take.

“Reductions are never fun, but with the fiscal pressures on us we have to take them when we can,” he said. “It’s not a fun recommendation, but I think it’s good for the long-term financial health of the district.

The two board members who voted against the measure, Tracy Hoose and Jo Ann Roberts, both explained why they voted against the reduction.

“I think the teachers presented some good arguments both tonight and last month,” Ms. Roberts said. “I think there needs to be further discussion and thought.”

Ms. Hoose, who is a former teacher, said she thought long and hard about which way to vote at Wednesday’s meeting.

“It was a hard decision,” she said. “I went back and forth on it up until last night, honestly I did.”

Ms. Hoose said that as a former teacher even though the class sizes may not be abnormally large, she said was worried about “the preps,” referring to the number of different classes teachers have to get ready for.

She also said that with the implementation of the common core and APPR (Annual Professional Performance Review) now was not the time to increasing a teacher’s workload.

“I personally did not think that this year was the right time to cut a teacher, because I don’t think teachers need anything else on their plate.”

Following the meeting Mr. Kardash, said he is planning to bring the move up again at next month’s meeting, “unless I’m directed otherwise.”

“I think it’s only fair that the full board votes on it,” he said.

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