A special Levittown Board of Education Meeting was held on Wednesday at the request of board member Ed Powers.
The main topics for discussion were class size and support staff throughout the district. It is projected that the district will have 175 fewer students next year, which will affect staffing needs.
Most of this comes from enrollment shifts, Board of Education President Michael Pappas said. MacArthur High School, and to a lesser degree Division Avenue High School, have large senior classes graduating this year with smaller freshman classes coming in.
"The same thing will happen again in two years when the current large 10th grade graduates," he said.
Several board members were concerned about the message in the community that class size is going to "max", according to Levittown United Teachers' (LUT) contract, and requested that Assistant Superintendent of Administration and Personnel Darlene Rhatigan clarify what the projected class numbers will be.
At this time on average each class runs two students below guidelines, and even with class size increase at least 60 percent of classes will never reach max. Going into the meeting, kindergarten through second grade was predicted to increase from 22 to possibly 25 per class and grades three to five were predicted to increase from 26 to 28 or 29 students per class. However, these numbers didn't make sense, Pappas said.
With six elementary schools in the district and six grade sections in each, the amount of teachers being excessed will not nearly have effects that large across the grades, Pappas said.
Board of Education Vice President Peter Porazzo and Pappas restated several times that since many classes run below the suggested guideline, even with the increase of possibly one to two more students added they would still not reach the "max". It was also made clear that it is the Board's objective to keep class sizes low for the betterment of the students.
To reduce staff without increasing class size, the Board has asked the Superintendent's office to reevaluate the ratio of support staff, such as Response to Intervention (RTI) teachers, to the amount of students in need. Board of Education Trustee Peggy Marenghi implored the Superintendent's office to provide the Board with the appropriate data to determine if we are overstaffed in this area, and if so by how many.
Currently, there are six teachers who lead kindergarten reading clusters. With full-day kindergarten, this staff could be restructured as clusters will no longer be needed, Pappas said.
"By restructuring the reading staff, there will be little to no increase in elementary class size next year," he said.
Superintendent of Schools Herman Sirois stated that updated budget information would be made available shortly and that many of the proposed cuts are still dependent upon possible union concessions as negotiations are still ongoing.
$12 million still needs to be cut in order to keep the projected tax levy at 3.43 percent, Porrazzo said. Otherwise keeping the status quo would require a tax levy closer to 12 precent, and that is not possible. It is hoped that all budget matters will be finalized by the next board meeting Tuesday, May 10.