The Levittown Board of Education approved a motion to offer an SAT Classroom Prep course through Kaplan Inc. at a rate of $200 per student Wednesday evening, a decision that did not sit well with board president Michael Pappas.
The district currently offers an SAT course taught by its own faculty to students before school at both Division Avenue and MacArthur High School for a materials cost of $25. Pappas, who first initiated the Kaplan plan, felt to take away $175 from district families was unreasonable.
"I have a problem with the entire way this is set up," said Pappas. "This program, the conception, came from me. I was looking to improve something for our students and it bothers me what it has morphed into."
"The program we have right now costs the district $8,000 per year and students pay $25 each," he added. "The new program, that my name is now attached to, raised the price 700 percent. I no longer want this associated with my name."
Pappas continued to say how the matter was never discussed in public, only executive session, which was his mistake as leader of the Board of Education and a mishap that could have taken this proposition off the table for something more affordable.
"It's not supposed to be that way," Pappas explained. "Any time we discuss public money it should be on the schedule, on the agenda and given to the public to have a chance to hear about it. It's my fault, I'm the board president. The initial vote should have been out here."
Board trustee Peggy Marenghi argued a different side, explaining that the quality of education from Kaplan is something the district can't offer themselves and will lift the students to a higher standard.
"We're offering a different service," said Marenghi. "It seems that it's being misrepresented here if people are thinking it's the same service. It's not. Kaplan will give our kids a greater edge. I think the idea is to give our kids a boost and make them more competitive."
Marenghi also added that the normal cost of Kaplan courses could range from $500 to $600, so an individual tuition rate of $200 is well worth the material the students will take away.
Board of Education Vice President Peter Porrazzo asked Pappas if his opinions were based on students who would be unable to afford the class.
"I'm worried about the person whose not on the free and reduced program and is ashamed to ask for it," Pappas responded, "the middle class parents or lower middle class parents who have nothing to give up to pay that $200 for their child."
Superintendent of Schools James Grossane suggested that for now, the board offer families an option by keeping both the early morning course offered by the district as well as the new Kaplan program.
The board will reconvene for a planning session Aug. 22 at 7:30 p.m.
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