Schools and Libraries
February 17, 2014
The Feb. 11 Long Beach Board of Education meeting began with a presentation of certificates of recognition to the editors and contributors of the award-winning high school literary magazine "Fragments" and their adviser Rachell Koegel. Students were invited to read sample works from the 2013 edition of "Fragments," which earned top awards this year from the American Scholastic Press Association, the National Scholastic Press Association, the National Council of Teachers of English and the Empire State Scholastic Press Association. Ms. Koegel estimated that over the past six years, her students have earned more than 100 regional, state and national awards for their work.
This celebration of excellence provided the perfect segue to a budget presentation about secondary school programs. With the assistance of Middle School Principal Dr. Michele Natali, High School Interim Principal Neil Lederer and High School Vice Principal Dr. Timothy Piciullo, Chief Operating Officer Michael DeVito presented information about secondary programs. The team discussed the success of the International Baccalaureate program at the high school, the middle school's progress in receiving authorization to introduce the IB Middle Years Program next spring, the use of interdisciplinary teaming in grades six to nine to support academic and social-emotional growth of students, and the use of proactive preventive discipline by support personnel to decrease suspensions and boost academic achievement. The team also highlighted the rich array of elective courses, extracurricular activities and athletic teams open to secondary students.
On the budget side, Mr. DeVito explained how the growth in enrollment of Island Park students, which has doubled since 2009, has provided a steady source of increased revenue for the district. Likewise, the enrollment of out-of-district students in the special education program has doubled during that same period.
At the high school level, a rollover budget that would maintain all programs at their current level would result in a 2.24 percent increase, mostly in personnel costs. A staffing increase of 1.4 positions was recommended to support additional staffing for special education and English language learners. To offset the additional staffing costs, the high school is examining ways to introduce efficiencies in the Nike alternative education program and the delivery of homebound instruction services. As a result of staffing efficiencies, no increase in staffing will be needed to add eight courses to the high school curriculum next year.
A projected increase of 2.90 percent at the middle school would be needed to support a rollover budget. A recommended staffing increase of 2.2 would support an additional sixth-grade section, the addition of a seventh-grade special education teacher and a 0.2 increase in staffing to better meet the needs of English language learners.
As the next step in the budget process, administrators will be meeting with the superintendent to review all budgets to identify opportunities for further efficiencies.