I want to begin by thanking you (Superintendent Richard Nathan, ' administration and Board of Education) for your dedication to the children, the schools and the community, and for the long hours and hard work that you freely offer to us.
I know the budget process is difficult in good times, and especially so in bad. That being said, I’d like to offer you an idea that occurred to me after the March 27 meeting, during which time another community member repeatedly asked you about your objectives.
I’d like to propose that you create a pie chart and slice it into pieces representing various segments of the budget. You’re the experts, and I am not, so my suggestions of allocations are for illustration only.
If slices are designated for contractual obligations, school-hour electives, after-school electives, transportation, etc., then you’ll have a visual for where the money ought to go and a set of parameters to guide your decisions about what’s kept and what’s cut. Slice size is flexible and just an aid to your process, but it could help you put allocations into perspective.
Next I need to address the decision to eliminate the Orion program from grades three to five. This program is the only resource the academically gifted children have to enhance their education.
Their academically challenged peers have speech, reading, resource room, occupational and physical therapy, extra help, and push-in and pull-out programs - most of which are mandated and, granted, possibly or probably unfunded - but all of which are designed to help the children stay engaged in the learning process and promote a successful academic career.
I haven’t heard anyone challenge the management and teaching models used by any of these specialists; they’re employed as specialists to reach their objectives, and their methods work.
I believe the same is true for the specialist we have for the Orion program, and it grieves me when the teaching methods and strategies are blindly criticized by anyone unfamiliar with the process and objectives of the Orion program.
I also want to point out there are many programs in the district that are limited to a few individuals who have demonstrated abilities beyond those of their classmates: AP classes, NYSSMA, All-Lindy Band/Orchestra, jazz band, varsity sports, marching band and others.
All children have the right to compete for positions in these elective programs, but not all kids make the cut. The same is true for the Orion program. All kids try out when they take the InView test, but not everyone makes the cut.
I beg you to look at the $130,000 that’s spent on 73 children and the per-child costs of other programs for which not everyone qualifies - including speech, reading, resource room, OT, PT, extra help, and our various push-in and pull-outs, as well as non-academic, after-school programs.
And I implore you to reconsider eliminating a program that’s enriched the academic environment of our community for decades.
I cannot stress enough how passionately I believe in this program and the life-long benefits it provides. Please, please, please reconsider your decision to eliminate it as a school-day program.
is a Lindenhurst resident of 10-plus years and a concerned parent with two children in Lindenhurst Schools. McKee’s attended this year’s 2012-13 school budget . Click to read about the Orion program and the changes it’ll undergo after the BOE voted to transform it to save money on March 27.
It was those cuts and changes to the gifted and talented program that prompted McKee to originally send this letter to Superintendent Richard Nathan, several other members of the administration and the entire BOE a few days after the March 27 meeting before sharing it with Lindenhurst Patch.
She feels strongly about the Orion program, and says she was “distressed” by the board’s decision to transform the in-school program into an after-school program. She also feels the program is “misunderstood and underappreciated.”
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