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Watkins predicts $1.8M school budget gap

WATKINS GLEN—The Watkins Glen Central School District board of education has started plugging in preliminary budget numbers and expects a possible $1.7 to $1.8 million budget gap.
Gayle Sedlack, business manager, gave an initial 2011-12 budget report at the Tuesday, Jan. 18, school board meeting. She explained this includes a five percent cut in New York state aid over the previous year. However, Sedlack explained Gov. Andrew Cuomo has yet to release his proposed state budget, scheduled for February.
Superintendent Tom Phillips spoke again that just making budget cuts each year will not fix the problems in the education system. Phillips described it as a band-aid approach. He said over the last three years Watkins has decreased staff, “but when does it start affecting programs?”
Phillips added the state has shifted Regents grading and evaluation costs to school districts. He sad, “it handcuffs us.”
The board will hear budget presentations from the operations and maintenance department next on the budget schedule.
In other business:
Nan Woodworth-Shaw, director of special services, gave a midyear Response to Intervention (RTI) report. She described how the program’s focus has shifted. One such change she noted was the teacher as a lecturer to the teacher as a facilitator of learning.
Woodworth-Shaw said changes to RTI implementation at the elementary school level were based on state guidance. She explained universal screenings are done three times a year to determine which students need higher levels of Academic Intervention Services (AIS).
She said weekly School Based Intervention Team meetings are held at the high school to discuss individual or building concerns. If the team talks about a student, he or she is included in the meeting to discuss the help to be provided.
The board approved 12 students from the high school Mandarin Chinese class to travel to New York City, Feb. 13 and 14. Principal Dave Warren said the students raised the money for the trip themselves and got a grant.
The next school board meeting is Monday, Feb. 7. The regular session is expected to start at 6:30 p.m. following an executive session. There is no workshop meeting scheduled for February.



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