School Board Debates Preschool Program Schedule Changes

Recent discussions at the local school board meeting focused heavily on proposed changes to the preschool program’s hours, drawing considerable input from concerned parents and community members.

One notable issue at the meeting was the proposed adjustment to preschool program hours. Community members and parents expressed their apprehensions regarding the potential reduction of the preschool day by 45 minutes and the removal of specials programs such as art, music, and library. Concerns were particularly heightened about the impact these changes could have on children’s development, especially those with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) who require a specific amount of instructional time. The board and Superintendent Michael Portas addressed these concerns by explaining that the proposed changes were suggested by teachers to improve the continuity of instruction. Additionally, challenges related to scheduling specials, potential for Aftercare programs, collective bargaining agreements, dismissal times, and space requirements for classrooms were discussed.

During the workshop portion of the meeting, the discussion about preschool hours garnered substantial attention. Alternatives were explored to address the well-being of preschoolers, with suggestions to look at other solutions that could mitigate the negative effects of reduced hours.

The debate extended to the school calendar, considering the possibility of extending winter break and moving a professional development day to align with Columbus Day. There was also a proposal to shift spring break to the week before Good Friday. The potential impact of these changes on both staff and parents was discussed, weighing the benefits of a longer break for students against the challenges it could present.

Further discussions included the response rate for a request for proposal (RFP) concerning school schedules. The board requested more information and a detailed breakdown of the proposed changes to better understand the potential impact on preschool students and their families. Concerns about the logistics of pick-up times, vendor coordination for aftercare services, and the loss of instructional time during transitions were also raised.

In addition to the preschool program concerns, the board discussed the staffing shortage and the hiring of a new algebra teacher. The continuation of the Conquer Math professional development program for the upcoming two years was announced, and the budget was reviewed with a particular focus on state aid numbers, which remained flat with slight increases in special education and school choice aid. The need for policy updates, including a new regulation on vandalism and revisions to sports-related concussion policies, was also addressed.

The meeting included acknowledgment of student achievements, including Ryan Trokar’s state championship in the 400-meter dash and Sophia Ketcher’s fourth-place finish at the state wrestling tournament, along with various winter sports accomplishments and academic milestones like World Language Honor Society inductions. Attention was also given to the high school music department’s growth and achievements, with a call for increased funding to support its continued success.

The board covered the Learning Acceleration Program High Impact Tutoring Grant, which targets at-risk students in grades three and four, and discussed the upcoming Professional Development Day focused on math and differentiated instruction. The effectiveness of these programs was noted, with concerns about attendance and tardiness potentially diminishing the progress being made.

Public comments included concerns about the preschool and before and after care programs, with a plea to ensure that decisions would not negatively impact enrollment. Additionally, high school drop-off and pick-up safety, the progress of the veterans wall committee, and the dedication of a project to Ruth Kellett were discussed.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.
Michael Portas
School Board Officials:
Brian Senyk, Danielle Esposito, Joseph Blumert, Sam Ciresi, Megan Dempsey, Timothy Gitin, Greg MacSweeney, Vincent Pompeo, Cara Shenton

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