Representatives from the Levittown Board of Education held a public meeting at the Levittown Memorial Education Center on Wednesday evening to field questions and concerns from residents regarding budget cuts, full-day kindergarten and the restructuring of the district's driver's education program.
One teacher stood before the board and pleaded her case to spare the elementary school's motor skills cluster program from budget cutbacks.
"I have experienced teaching kindergarten students both before and after the inception of the extended kingergarten program," said Kathy Mundy, a Physical Education teacher at Lee Road Elementary School. "The primary difference the extended kindergarten program brought to our children was the addition of the literacy and motor cluster periods, which are classes taught by specialized reading educators in small group lessons.”
She went on to discuss the significant impact that this program has had on students.
“The benefits of being able to give individual and specialized attention includes increased visual perception, motor strength and spatial awareness in our kindergarten students," she said.
However Board of Education President Mike Pappas announced that the Board received a petition from 253 district parents in favor of eliminating clusters and replacing them with full-day kindergarten.
The petition read: "The parents of the Levittown School District hereby request full-day kindergarten for the 2011-12 school year. We would like to see our kindergarten teachers teach their students all day with the assistance of teachers' assistants. We want to see clusters eliminated as they do not benefit our children. We feel that the Levittown School District should run Full Day Kindergarten similar to the other full-day kindergarten programs in Nassau County."
The meeting also gave Pappas the opportunity to urge local residents to call or write to state legislators regarding the controversial tax cap bill that was recently proposed by New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo.
“We’ve got a 2 percent tax cap,” said Pappas. “Our expenditures on raises alone exceed that. The combination of pension costs and health insurance will also soon exceed that. It’s a nightmare. We urge everyone to get on the phones and write letters to have this nonsense repealed.”
In a seperate issue, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Debbie Rifkin discussed cost-saving measures for the district's driver's education program.
“We propose to eliminate a coordinator position and assign that to an existing director,” said Rifkin. “We would also like to add one more car, which would allow for 100 additional students to take driver’s ed over the fall, spring and summer semesters.”
Rifkin said the driver's education tuition currently costs $510.
"Under the new plan, we could charge $470 if we can fill at least 283 of the 308 available spots," she said.