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General Brown may offer physics to 30 students

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DEXTER — The General Brown Central School District Board of Education may hire a part-time physics teacher and offer the course to up to 30 students in the 2013-14 school year.

During its monthly meeting at 6 p.m. today in the General Brown Room of the junior-senior high school, 17643 Cemetery Road, the board is expected to vote on hiring Clarence Bockus to teach the course.

Superintendent Cammy J. Morrison said Mr. Bockus will teach one physics class and one lab daily. Mr. Bockus is an adjunct instructor at Jefferson Community College, Watertown, and works full-time in the lab at Kraft Foods, Lowville.

“I saw an article in the Watertown newspaper that they were going to lose their physics,” he said. “When you lose something like that, it’s hard to get it back.”

Mr. Bockus said he does not want to see schools lose science offerings completely, nor have to be forced to consolidate high schools to stay afloat.

“This at the very least will keep their program going,” he said. “I wish we could work out something for all small communities. For me, I’ve always felt high school is the heart of a community.”

Mrs. Morrison said seniors will receive enrollment priority for the physics class, if Mr. Bockus is approved today. She said she recognizes the solution is not perfect, but it is a start to helping meet the needs of some of the 50 original students interested in taking the course.

“We see this as a step in the right direction,” she said.

Mr. Bockus approached the district last week, and throughout the first couple of days of school checked his references and put together details about the potential hire for today’s meeting.

District officials wanted to fill the position, which recently had been advertised as half-time, but could not find many qualified candidates. Only two came forward, and one person was offered the job but declined. In the 2013-14 budget planning process earlier this year, the physics teaching post was reduced to half-time in an effort to cut costs while still maintaining a physics program. As the district heads toward financial insolvency, it reduced its budget by about $1 million.

The full-time teacher resigned after the position was reduced.

Mrs. Morrison said the district worked diligently to fill the half-time post, but had no luck. Following local news reports on the matter last week, Mrs. Morrison said, the district “heard from several nice people who made suggestions and offered to help.” Many of those people lived too far away, she said.

“Certainly we had parents and some community members who were disappointed, as were we,” Mrs. Morrison said. “Most were understanding. We just ran out of time. It became a time issue and schedules had to be put in place.”

If Mr. Bockus is approved, class and lab will be held from 12:24 to 1:47 p.m. daily, beginning Wednesday. If all 30 spots are filled, the remaining 20 students originally interested in taking the course will have to remain in another science class to achieve their advanced Regents diploma. Mrs. Morrison said she hopes the situation will improve for juniors who will be seniors next school year.

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